Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma

At the beginning of November many of our colleagues were actively participating in COP26 in Glasgow – running events and meeting country’ delegates, in between formal meetings and negotiations, to raise nature’s profile and demonstrate its important role in tackling climate change.

The RSPB’s Principal Climate Change Policy Officer, Melanie Coath shared her reflections after the event, which included some high points as well as some disappointments (chiming with the wider, prevailing sense of frustration that more progress was not made during COP26).

Welsh representation at COP26

The Welsh First Minister and the Minister and Deputy Minister for Climate Change also participated, and BBC Wales’ Steffan Messenger’s reflections on COP26 are well worth reading. One of his observations was that

looking people in the eye had an obvious impact on Welsh government ministers. We interviewed Climate Change Minister Julie James just moments after she had held a meeting with the Wampis indigenous people of Peru. She appeared so taken aback by what she'd heard about the impact of tree-felling on their rainforest community that she pledged to change rules around public procurement - so schools and hospitals for instance have to make sure the goods they buy in from abroad are deforestation-free.

RSPB Cymru’s joint report with WWF Cymru and Size of Wales shows that an area 40% the size of Wales is needed overseas to grow a handful of key agricultural commodities to satisfy our demands in Wales, highlighting the importance of global responsibility and consideration of supply chains in addressing the global nature and climate emergency.

What next for Wales?

At home, the Welsh Government has published its new Net Zero plan, which includes welcome recognition of the nature emergency and recognition of its interconnectedness with climate change. Much work remains though, to ensure adequate investment in nature’s recovery through our protected sites networks; well-designed nature-based solutions; reforms to agricultural payments to reward provision of public goods; sustainable marine management; and good planning to enable renewable energy to be developed in harmony with nature.

We now look forward to COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which was heavily delayed due to the global health crisis, and looks like it may be further delayed following the emergence of the Omicron variant. However, the aim is still the same – to agree a new suite of global biodiversity targets. RSPB Cymru are calling on the Welsh Government to lead the way by committing to a legal framework of targets for nature (equivalent to the 1.5 degree limit we have for climate), to showcase domestic ambition on halting and beginning to reverse biodiversity decline by 2030, and achieving substantive recovery by 2050 so that we realise the CBD vision of living in harmony with nature.

For further information, please contact Annie Smith – annie.smith@rspb.org.uk