Brazil’s incoming president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, backed calls for rich nations to provide more money to protect the Earth’s ecosystems at COP15 as talks resumed in Montreal after a series of strikes.
More than 100 environment ministers arrived at the biodiversity summit in Canada ahead of a weekend of intense negotiations on this decade’s United Nations goals to protect the natural world.
On Thursday, several countries in the global north presented financial pledges for biodiversity, including new contributions from Spain, the Netherlands and the United States. The donors stressed that the money must be matched by conservation ambition in the final deal, especially the draft goal to protect 30 percent of the Earth.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU environment commissioner, has ruled out the creation of a new biodiversity fund as part of the final deal, a key call for some developing countries at COP15. “It is extremely important that there is no new fund. It took seven to eight years to negotiate the Global Environment Facility,” he said. “Those talk about new funds, I think they are misleading. So far they are not providing any value.
Lula’s incoming administration wrote to the summit to underline the need for more money for biodiversity echoing his COP27 speech, where he pledged to ensure rich countries meet their $100bn (£82 billion) for the southern hemisphere.
Some delegations have tried to portray the Brazilian negotiators at COP15 as representatives of the outgoing president, Jair Bolsonaro, seeking to cause chaos, after they played a leading role in Wednesday’s strikes over money and the creation of a new fund for biodiversity.
But the letter from Lula’s transition team seems to underscore support for the negotiating team from Brazil and other developing countries.
“How can the developed world recognize the scale of the triple planetary crisis and not respond to calls for greater ambition in biodiversity financing beyond the existing financing architecture through additional and innovative strategies and instruments?” the letter asks.
“Funding proposals from developing countries to generate new and additional funding dedicated specifically to biodiversity-related initiatives need to be taken seriously. Developing countries hold the vast majority of the world’s biodiversity and have a key role to play in this agenda.”
On Thursday morning, COP15 chairman China outlined his plans for the final days of the summit, which is expected to end on Monday. They said Canada’s environment minister, Steven Guilbeault, would host talks on resolving key issues, which observers say is a sign the co-hosts are working well together despite differences between Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Xi urged countries to work together to promote “the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature,” via video link on Thursday.
“As an old Chinese saying goes, ‘all living things should thrive without harming each other, all ways of life should thrive without hindering each other’. Let us work together to open a new chapter in building a community of all life on Earth and create a bright future of harmonious coexistence,” he said.
Huang Runqiu, China’s environment minister and COP15 chairman, wrote to countries on Thursday to explain plans for the final days of the summit. He has paired ministers from developed and developing countries to try to resolve three key issues: conservation targets, money and the use of digital forms of biodiversity.
Li Shuo, a political adviser to Greenpeace China who has been following the talks in Montreal, said environment ministers should start working to resolve as soon as possible the differences that technical negotiations have failed to conclude over the past three years.
“The technical negotiators have completed their mandate. Ministers are now being asked by the presidency to broker deals. Ministers must get to work immediately. There are still too many problems to solve. Leaving them all in the final days will mean a prolonged endgame,” she said.
China held a meeting with COP15 heads of delegation on Wednesday following the strikes, where it was understood there was a “violent deal” linking money and goals on extinction prevention, nature restoration and new protected areas. Negotiations resumed shortly after, but the atmosphere remains tense.
“Discussions on finance are key to the success of COP15. So far, the truth is that the lack of international solidarity has stalled negotiations,” said one negotiator.
“The European Union and other countries such as Canada and Japan are directly responsible for this situation, constantly trying to delay negotiations to avoid a discussion on a numerical target for resource mobilization and refusing to engage constructively on the basis of proposals made by developing countries.
“Those same developed countries are excited about ambitious numbers for conservation targets, but they won’t agree on substantial numbers once we get to the finance and ODA discussions. [overseas development aid].
“Hopefully attitudes change during the top-tier segment.”
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