Paris, France, 12 December 2015 (IUCN) – IUCN welcomes the new climate agreement adopted today by the world’s governments at the UN climate summit in Paris (COP 21), and its recognition of nature’s critical role in tackling climate change.
The role of forests, oceans and other natural ecosystems in absorbing carbon emissions and helping nations adapt to a changing climate has been clearly acknowledged in the new agreement, which has been adopted by nearly 200 countries following two weeks of intense negotiations. The agreement notes the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems and the protection of biodiversity when taking action to address climate change.
“Nature is a powerful ally in our fight against climate change,” says Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General. “We are encouraged to see such a strong focus on nature-based solutions in the new agreement, which lays a solid foundation for the world to move towards a more sustainable, resilient and low-carbon future. We cannot afford to leave nature out of the equation; no climate action can possibly succeed without it.”
While biodiversity and ecosystems are threatened by climate change, their conservation, restoration and sustainable management generate significant and practical nature-based solutions to climate change. Terrestrial ecosystems store almost three times the amount of carbon found in the atmosphere, while healthy oceans absorb over 25% of annual carbon dioxide emissions.
The Paris agreement signals the will of the international community to mobilise all sectors and stakeholders to keep the global average temperature rise well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. The deal sets the stage for accelerated action on climate change at all levels, while promoting environmental integrity and respecting gender equality, intergenerational equity and human rights – including those of Indigenous Peoples.
“We congratulate all Parties, and particularly the French government, on the successful hosting and conclusion of this landmark summit,” says IUCN President Mr Zhang Xinsheng. “The world has finally realised that what was at stake here in Paris was a deal that will ultimately define the future of our planet. Our eyes now turn to Hawai’i, where next year the IUCN World Conservation Congress will bring the global conservation community together to ensure that the ambitious promises laid out today are translated into even more ambitious action on the ground.”
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