Zero Hour Campaign Assistant, Imogen Sylph, writes about the importance of tackling the climate and biodiversity crises together ahead of a parliamentary debate on COP15 and nature restoration.

In recent years, the climate emergency has started to get the attention it deserves—in politics, the media, and amongst the public. It's become clear that climate change is an immediate issue that needs to be addressed now. The CEE Bill aims to do this by providing a legislative framework for the UK to reduce the impacts of climate change and, crucially, to restore wildlife. The climate and biodiversity crises go hand in hand and must be tackled together. This is the focus of Caroline Lucas’ upcoming Backbench Business Committee debate on COP15 and nature restoration, coming up in Parliament on 17 March.

The Government has currently hedged its bets on technology that has not been fully developed with questionable integration into our infrastructure. Scientists have said again and again that we need to act about climate change immediately or it will soon be too late. The reality is, not enough is actively being done by the UK Government to combat climate change—despite great pressure from the public and scientists alike.

As well as urgent action on climate, biodiversity deserves much more of a focus on the UK Government’s agenda. The phrase “nature-based solutions” is becoming more common, but what does this mean and how could they actually help? Nature-based solutions have a focus on our natural world and the animals and plants it contains. As the CEE Bill recognises, if we protect and restore our wildlife and biodiversity, we will also be taking positive steps to solve the climate crisis at the same time.

Biodiversity is at the heart of nature-based solutions. Changes in biodiversity are some of the direct impacts of climate change that we talk about—bleached coral reefs, polar bears’ disappearing Arctic ice and devastating forest fires, just to name a few examples.

As our climate reaches extremes in temperature and weather—while natural disasters become the 'norm'—we lose animal and plant species, and a resulting loss in biodiversity. Very close to home, British garden birds such as blue tits are struggling with every breeding season to provide food to their chicks. As the global temperature rises and seasons are blurred, animals are out of sync with their food, leaving offspring hungry and causing higher death rates.

Nature-based solutions focus on increasing and maintaining biodiversity. Current projects include nature restoration and rewilding. Some of our CEE Bill allies are leading figures in this, such as Knepp Castle Estate—the most successful rewilding project in the UK. Not only does this bring back the animals and plants we need to see, it also develops carbon sinks. Natural carbon sinks are the best way to lessen climate change. They take carbon from the atmosphere and putt it back into storage (oceans, peatland, soils, etc.). They go some way to repairing the damage we have done to our planet, with the added benefit of being home to endangered species, including albatrosses, blue whales and sundews.

Ahead of COP15 later this year, there is a parliamentary debate on the topic of COP15 and nature restoration coming up on 17 March, which will provide a crucial opportunity for MPs to discuss nature restoration and the UK's Government's plan to get nature back on the path to recovery by 2030.

Zero Hour has set out proposals for COP15 (in addition to the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework) set to be adopted at the summit in Kunming, Chine. An essential outcome of COP15 is for the UK Government to take action on the climate and biodiversity crises simultaneously. Zero Hour also proposes that the destruction of nature is tackled at its root causes, which would aid with both stopping and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030. We are urging MPs from all parties to raise these points in the upcoming debate. 

The CEE Bill demands immediate action to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises in a joined-up way, and it's clear that nature-based solutions with a focus on biodiversity are key to this global effort. With COP15 around the corner, biodiversity should be at the forefront of our minds. To overcome the climate crisis, we cannot overlook biodiversity. The two emergencies of climate change and biodiversity loss must therefore be tackled together.