A most interesting development has occurred in the campaign to save the biodiversity of Planet Earth, as world leaders begin to engage with the idea of laying down strict rules to save the planet from climate change.

The development comes in the form of an “open letter” that the chief executives of some leading multi-national companies, including Unilever, ten other companies have penned, warning world governments to take meaningful action on mass extinctions of wildlife and the collapse of ecosystems, or risk “a dead planet”.

China is set to assume the presidency of a major UN environment meeting for the first time by hosting the opening phase of the “Convention on biological diversity (CBD)” meeting in the city of Kunming later this week, Because of Covid-19, most of the delegates will attend the meeting “virtually” – that is, through video communications applications (such as “Zoom”).

In the “open letter”, the heads of some of the people most associated with the ruthless exploitation of Planet earth’s resources, seem to recognise that the role they have been playing has put Planet earth at risk of becoming a dead planet. Calling themselves “The Business for Nature” coalition, the companies said the current draft of a Paris-style UN agreement for nature (which includes targets to eliminate plastic pollution and reduce pesticide use) “does not go far enough to halt the destruction of the natural world”

Additionally, more than 1,000 companies with $4.7tn in revenue have signed a call by the group for governments “to adopt policies to reverse nature loss by the year 2030.”

The Paris climate agreement was adopted in 2015. It is a legally binding international treaty aimed at tackling the climate crisis by pledging to “hold global heating to below 2C,” (2 degrees Celsius.) That is the scientifically-determined limit at which The Earth can be expected to continue to be a “safe” habitat. 

The letter to world leaders by the business executives, shared with the London Guardian newspaper, declares: “Nature is at a tipping point and time is against us. We must recognise nature loss for the crisis that it is. We must understand that while it is critical for tackling climate change, nature represents more than simply a climate solution.”

The companies affirmed further that the proposed biodiversity meetings offer “our last and best chance of turning the tide of biodiversity loss. The draft Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework lacks the ambition and specificity required to drive the urgent action needed.”

The business executives urged world leaders to commit to an equivalent of the 1.5C climate target for nature around which businesses and civil society could unite. They pointed out that current proposals were “unclear”, and urged governments to eliminate and redirect “all environmentally harmful subsidies”. World leaders should also “embed the economic value of nature in decision-making”, they added. 

Climate change experts are said to be pleased at the change of attitude that appears to be occurring within the world’s big companies. Many of them have been responsible for he wanton destruction of rain forests (through timber-felling), water systems (through the building of excessively large dams) and insensitivity to wild life and fauna destruction, generally, during the construction of road and railway projects. 

One of the signatories to the Open Letter, Unilever (for example) has, in the past, been criticised severely for acquiring vast tracts of land in developing countries to cultivate oil palm plantations, thus depriving local communities of land for food farming, and driving wild animals away from their natural habitat.

Others have been at loggerheads with environmental campaigners over the creation and use of pesticides (ostensibly to safeguard food protection but which eliminate animals, birds and insects from huge areas formerly teeming with wild life.) Other companies have wantonly dumped plastic products that do not decay naturally, on to the world, with the result that oceans and rivers all over the world have lost – and continue to lose – corral reefs as well as fish and other species of aquatic vegetation. ”

The need to safeguard bio-diversity against over-exploitation of Nature’s resources, was aptly noted stated by one company’ chief executive – Mr Roberto Marques of Natura & Co, which owns the Body Shop
, – who signed the open letter to world governments, when he said: “ We need to track our impact on the climate and nature with the same discipline we track our profit and loss”.

,Mr Marques said China’s emerging leadership of the governmental group on climate change was “an important moment, as decisions made by [China], the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter would decide whether or not the world met environmental targets this century.”

According to The Guardian, China’s president, Mr Xi Jinping, is expected to speak this week at the largely ceremonial first phase of the group called “Cop15.” A second meeting is scheduled to be held in-person (rather than virtually) in Kunming from 25 April to 8 May 2022. But it “may be moved from China due to pandemic border restrictions”, The Guardian notes. 

The concern being shown by companies and all manner of institutions about the terrible – and growing – nightmare effects of climate change are a sign that at long last, events like the environmental disasters we have seen in the year, 2021, are increasingly being seen, not as accidental phenomena but Nature’s systematic response to the damage humankind has carelessly been inflicting on the earth’s atmosphere, through the lack of concern with which we burn fossil fuels in particular. 

Apart from earthquakes (Haiti) and hurricanes (USA) wild fires have graphically revealed to world TV audiences that the world is in great danger. In 2021, several countries have been seen record wildfire seasons. Most stem from the extreme and often record-breaking heat and associated drought, over the past several years. In Germany, a broadcast on 5 Aug. 2021 said that “The month of July was the second-hottest ever recorded in Europe (and the third hottest globally).”

Temperatures in Greece t peaked at 47 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) at one stage. Turkey too was in the midst of a heatwave that was said to be the worst in 30 years. The European Forest Fire Information System has estimated that within European Union countries alone, between 868,145 acres (351,326 hectares) and 1.2 million acres (468,434 hectares) of vegetation have burned. In Russia, too, wildfires in the Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia, and Siberia caused enormous damage. And, of course, in “glamorous” California, (USA), forest fires have become a fact of life to be faced each year. 

It all makes sensible, helpless people cry out: WHAT AT ALL IS WRONG WITH THE LEADERS OF THE WORLD? You have all sworn to ensure the welfare of your peoples and would go to war to achieve that objective. And yet you watch those same charges of yours continuing to use the disastrous inherited production processes that are killing the Planet on which they [AND YOU] exist! Are you proud of yourselves?

Letter From Afar by Cameron Duodu

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