World Conservation Congress urges CO2 cuts

Posted: 15 October 2008

An international meeting of governments, scientists and conservationists has called for deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and said financial turmoil must not sideline work to safeguard animals and plants.

Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN
Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN
Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director-General. Photo: IUCN/Group J. Muntaner
"The clear message coming out of this meeting is that biodiversity underpins the well-being of human societies and their economies," said Julia Marton-Lefèvre, head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in a statement at the end of a 10-day IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, attended by more than 8,000 delegates. "But conservation can only succeed if we attack the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, and action is taken at the same time to reduce the impacts of that loss."

"We're showing how saving nature must be an integral part of the solution for any world crisis," Marton-Lefèvre added.

The Congress sent a clear message to the UN's Climate Change Summit taking place in Poland in December. IUCN is demanding more specific goals in line with the Bali Plan of Action - calling for a 50 to 85 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 and keeping rises in temperature below 2°C - and actions on biodiversity, ecosystem services and livelihoods protection.

Biofuels were a major focus as members of the world's oldest conservation organization called on governments to regulate and manage biofuels to limit their potential impacts on people and nature. A call was also made to develop guidelines and improve standards used when considering biofuels projects.

Tuna fishing, Sardinia, Italy. Photo: Antonio Pais/FAO
Tuna fishing, Sardinia, Italy. Photo: Antonio Pais/FAO
Tuna fishing. A raised landing net brings the tuna to the surface in Sardinia, Italy.© Antonio Pais/FAO
"Participants underlined... that the cost of biodiversity losses are not only greater than those of the current financial problems, but in many cases, they are irreparable," the IUCN statement said.

The IUCN also called for a ban on fishing of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna, a highly prized species threatened with extinction, and for the creation of a sanctuary for the fish around Spain's Balearic islands.

Congress also endorsed the need to proceed with biodiversity-based climate change mitigation actions such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), as long as it remains just and equitable.

Among some of the other commitments made to support IUCN's mission during the World Conservation Congress:

  • The MacArthur Foundation will invest $50 million in climate change mitigation and adaptation;
  • The Mohammad Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund will invest €25 million for worldwide biodiversity;
  • Russia pledged to protect 80 million new hectares;
  • Sumatran provinces agreed to stop clearing old-growth forests;
  • The Government of Paraguay announced zero net deforestation by 2020.
  • Regional heads of state agreed to a summit at Manado, Sulawesi next May to launch the Coral Triangle Initiative to protect the world's richest coral reefs.