Saturday at COP26 was Nature Day, with governments turning their gaze to agriculture, forests and other natural bodies.
95 UK businesses have made a joint commitment, aiming to deliver operations deemed “nature positive” by the end of this decade. This commitment is being overseen by the COP26 unit and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Tesco, Severn Trent, the Co-op and OVO Energy are just a few of the companies taking part in this commitment. These businesses will have to develop targets for their practices and have them verified by the Science-Based Targets for Nature initiative.
The Declaration on Forests and Land Use created on the first day of the COP26 summit now has 133 signatures, accounting for 91% of all global forests. This declaration includes commitments to end and ideally start reversing deforestation by 2030 as well as the commitment to provide financial aid to protect indigenous communities and their rights.
45 nations have signed onto a Policy Action Agenda, which should help policymakers make changes to the food system to create a new one that is free of deforestation and uses less carbon. It should also enable support for farmers and create less waste. The same nations, along with over 100 organisations have signed a Global Action Agenda on Innovation in Agriculture, which aims to utilise over $4 billion (~£3bn) towards new technologies that could help make climate-resistant crops, soil improvement solutions and digital aids for agriculture.
The UK’s COP26 Unit has made the claim that around 40 times the amount of money being put towards conservation and restoration of nature is being put towards land-use practices that degrade it. To break this trend, 33 financial institutions with over $8.7 trillion (~£6.4trn) in assets have committed to stop putting funding towards deforestation for agriculture by 2025 with risk assessments aiming to be completed by the end of 2022 for large sectors like beef, paper and palm oil.
The Scottish government has formed a Nature Restoration Fund, looking to provide £55 million to domestic projects over the period of five years. Such projects that would be supported include large-scale, multi-partner and multi-year projects, including those relating to wetlands, peatlands and lochs. The UK government has also confirmed a £500 million package will be put towards conserving 5 million hectares of rainforest with hopes that this package will garner £1 billion of investment from the private sector.
It should also be noted that Nature Day featured a gathering of 100,000 protestors in Glasgow, formed by groups such as the COP26 Coalition. This was done as part of some 200 marches taking place globally. “The era of injustice is over. We need climate action that works for all of us, not just the people with the most money in their pocket,” stated the COP26 Coalition whilst also promoting the following on social media. “We reject false solutions. We reject empty promises. We demand system change and we demand it now.”