Earthly Deals

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Nearly 200 countries signed a historic agreement this week to halt the destruction of the Earth’s ecosystems, a pact that could put humanity on track to live in harmony with the environment by the middle of the century, the Guardian reported.

The agreement was reached during the two-week Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), co-hosted by both Canada and China.

It follows more than four years of negotiations, amid declining insect populations, acidifying oceans filled with a growing volume of plastic waste and a ballooning human population that recently passed eight billion.

The new deal aims to protect 30 percent of the planet by the end of the decade, revoke $500 billion of environmentally damaging subsidies, as well as restore 30 percent of the of Earth’s degraded terrestrial, inland water, coastal and marine ecosystems.

It also urges action to halt human-caused extinctions of various species known to be under threat and promote their recovery.

Scientists have warned that humans are causing the start of Earth’s sixth mass extinction event, the largest loss of life since the time of the dinosaurs.

Although not legally binding, the agreement tasks governments with reporting their progress on the targets with national biodiversity plans.

Observers said the new deal could herald significant changes in agricultural and economic supply networks, and also the role of Indigenous communities in conservation.

Still, some African countries criticized the agreement because it did not create a new fund for biodiversity separate from the existing UN fund, the global environment facility (GEF).

China, Brazil, Indonesia, India, and Mexico receive the most GEF financing, while some African countries wanted more money for conservation as part of the final agreement.

Canadian Minister of Environment Steven Guilbeault, meanwhile, hailed the agreement as a “bold step forward to protect nature.”

However, some analysts expressed disappointment at the watered-down language on consumption and pesticide usage, both of which are key causes of biodiversity loss.

The phrase “nature positive,” which some scientists predicted would be the biodiversity equivalent of “net zero,” was not included in the accord.

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