The need to ensure a carbon-free future
In the atmosphere, gases such as water vapour, CO2, ozone, and methane act like the glass-roof of a greenhouse by trapping heat and warming the planet.
These gases are called greenhouse gases. The natural levels of these gases are supplemented by emissions resulting from human activities. Rising levels of greenhouse gases are already changing the climate.
In general, the faster the climate changes, the greater the impact on people and ecosystems. Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can lessen these pressures, giving these systems more time to adapt.
The links between bio-diversity and climate change run both ways: bio-diversity is threatened by climate change, but proper management of bio-diversity can reduce the impacts of climate change.
The rich variety of life on Earth has always had to deal with a changing climate.
The need to adapt to new patterns of temperature and rainfall has been a major influence on evolutionary changes that produced the plant and animal species we see today.
Variation in the climate is perfectly compatible with the survival of ecosystems and their functions, on which we each depend for the essentials of life.
Climate change now poses one of the principal threats to the biological diversity of the planet, and is projected to become an increasingly important driver of change in the coming decades.
There are several reasons why plants and animals are less able to adapt to the current phase of global warming.
One is the very rapid pace of change: it is anticipated that over the next century, the rise in average global temperatures will be faster than anything experienced by the planet for at least 10,000 years.
Many species will simply be unable to adapt quickly enough to the new conditions, or to move to regions more suited to their survival.
Equally important, the massive changes humans have made to the landscape, river basins and oceans of the world have closed off survival options previously available to species under pressure from a changing climate.
There are other human-induced factors as well. Pollution from nutrients such as nitrogen, the introduction of alien invasive species and the over.
Harvesting of wild animals through hunting or fishing can all reduce the resilience of ecosystems, and thus the likelihood that they will adapt naturally to climate change.
This has major implications not just for the variety of life on our planet, but also for the livelihoods of people around the world. The rural poor are especially vulnerable to the loss of essential services when an ecosyster becomes degraded.
The formation of soils suitable for crop-growing, the availability of medicinal plants, the provision of fresh water and the income gained from eco-tourism, for example, are all underpinned by the web of life and the interaction of species ranging from the smallest micro-organisms to the largest predators.
Designing, funding and implementing these strategies requires co-operation and co-ordination at the global level. In this respect, the Convention on Biological Diversity is working closely with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
Such co-operation can ensure the proper design and implementation of policies aimed at improving adaptation to climate change.
The overall message is clear. If the threats of biodiversity loss and climate change are tackled together, the prospects for adapting successfully to the challenges of the coming decades will be very much improved.
I call upon all citizens of the world to ensure that we take the necessary steps to facilitate the adaptation of bio-diversity to a changing climate, and therefore ensure the livelihoods of the poorest of the poor.
Working together to create a carbon-free future for everyone!
- Mrs. Palak Patel
Executive-EHS, Apcotex, Valia