A landmark global scientific assessment warns one million animal and plant species face extinction as a result of human activity.
The Australian Government must be a driving force for a strong new global deal to save nature following an urgent scientific warning that the natural world is deteriorating at unprecedented rates, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) says.
The landmark scientific assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), released on Monday, warns that across the planet one million animal and plant species now face extinction as a result of human activity and the decline of natural systems on which humanity depends for food, water and a stable climate is rapidly accelerating.
The IPBES assessment comes as countries prepare to meet in Kunming, China, next year to negotiate a new international deal, dubbed a ‘Paris Agreement for nature’, to save the natural world. The deal would act as the successor to the global 2020 Aichi Targets for protecting nature, which the IPBES global assessment found will not be met.
ACF’s Nature Program Manager, Basha Stasak, said the IPBES global assessment detailed the fundamental decline of the planet’s animals, plans, forests, coasts, oceans, rivers, landscapes and everything else that makes up the natural world.
“The global assessment is clear – there are limits to the destructive human activity nature can withstand. We are not just pushing those limits, we are breaking them at unprecedented rates.
“Australia is blessed with some of the world’s most extraordinary creatures and diverse landscapes. Many of our animals are found nowhere else on earth.
“We should be stewards, not destroyers, of the natural world because of all it gives us. That requires fundamental change, more funding and climate action, which would ultimately be an investment in the natural systems that support humans.
“Sadly, by the standards needed to stop the destruction of nature set out by the IPBES’ global assessment, our state and federal governments are failing.
“Australia is facing a species extinction crisis. In the last decade three native species have been wiped out and scientists predict 17 animals could go extinct in the next 20 years.
“Since our current national environment laws came into force at the turn of the century more than 7.4 million hectares of threatened species habitat, an area larger than the state of Tasmania, has been destroyed. This has been driven by the destruction of old-growth forests in Victoria and other states and deforestation rates in Queensland and NSW that rival those in the Amazon.
“At the same time our national environment budget has been slashed by 38 per cent since the Coalition government took office, representing a $533 million cut to the annual environment budget by 2022.
“Next year nations will meet to negotiate a new global deal to restore and protect nature. As a mega-diverse, developed and prosperous nation, Australia must be at the forefront of pushing for the strongest deal possible by showing leadership in our own efforts and by pushing the negotiations towards the best possible outcome.
“Our next federal government must strongly argue for a global deal that has clear measurable targets and obligations that halt the extinction, ensure species populations recover and protect critical ecosystems.
“This would include a goal to protect 30 per cent of Earth’s land and waters by 2030, which scientists tells us is key to tackling mass wildlife extinctions and climate change.”
More information about Australia’s role in establishing a new global deal for nature can be found in a joint report by the Australian Committee for IUCN, ACF and other organisation: Starting the conversation on Australia’s priorities for the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.