China delivers its draft agreement for the protection of biodiversity, an agreement is very close

After tough negotiations, with several stumbling blocks, the Chinese presidency of COP15 has just presented its draft agreement. The main objectives are well inscribed there, but gray areas persist. Country representatives have until tomorrow to come up with a final text. COP15 is coming to an end soon, and an agreement remains to be concluded.

It is the decisive day in Montreal to conclude a new global agreement on the protection of nature and biodiversity within the framework of COP15. While the hope of finding a compromise resurfaced yesterday, China, which chairs this edition, has just presented its project from which the final text must be defined. Ministers from nearly 200 governments are now to work out the details by Monday, a deal appears to be within reach.

The 30-by-30 is on the table

Among the 23 objectives contained in this project, China finally retained the principle of ”  30-by-30  ” which establishes the protection of 30% of land and coastal and marine areas by 2030. If the negotiations are finalized , this would be one of the main actions of COP15. A key point of the negotiations, it was presented as the biodiversity equivalent of the Paris objective of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

However, as Reuters reports, the ” 30-by-30 ” target contains no global target and makes only limited mention of the oceans, which could leave international waters unprotected. To date, only 17% of the land and 8% of the seas are protected.

The other major stumbling block in the negotiations relates to the financial mobilization to be provided by States and the private sector in favor of biodiversity. China is gradually proposing the level of financial resources to reach at least 200 billion dollars per year by 2030. Of this total, the most developed – or voluntary – countries should contribute by 2025 at least 20 billion dollars per year of international assistance to least developed countries, small island developing states, and countries with economies in transition, and 30 billion by 2030.

Some countries in the South are demanding more financial resources from rich countries

The developing countries demanded an increase to 100 billion dollars a year in the aid paid by the rich countries for the protection of nature, currently estimated at between 7 and 10 billion euros. The project does not mention the creation of a new fund to manage these sums, again requested by the countries of the South, which was one of the main points of contention beyond the amounts allocated. Some countries in the South, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, continue to demand more financial means from rich countries to give their final approval. Braulio Dias, who represents the future Brazilian government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, asked again on Sunday for ”  better mobilization of resources “. China proposes as a compromise to establish from 2023 a branch dedicated to biodiversity within the current Global Environment Facility (GEF), the current functioning of which is considered very deficient by the least developed countries.

 A compromise that does not satisfy everyone

The monitoring mechanisms have been better taken into account to avoid the fiasco of the last ten-year plan signed in Japan in 2010. This had not achieved any of its objectives, for lack of appropriate mechanisms. The text also leaves shadow points. It asks states to “encourage and enable” companies to assess and disclose how they affect and are affected by biodiversity, without making it mandatory. Reducing the use of pesticides is also evaded, but the text only states that risks from pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals should be reduced by at least half.

We have made enormous progress “, welcomed alongside him the Canadian Minister of the Environment Steven Guilbeault, de facto co-leader of the summit which could not be held in China because of the Covid-19. An optimism that is not shared by the New Zealand Minister of Conservation Poto Williams: ” We cannot continue to ask nature to make compromises “.

An “  open invitation to greenwashing  ” (Greenpeace)

For their part, the NGOs are divided. For Brian O’Donnell, of the NGO Campaign for Nature, this text “  gives nature a chance. If approved, the outlook for leopards, butterflies, sea turtles, forests and populations will improve markedly  .” But An Lambrechts of Greenpeace International is worried about a ”  weak draft agreement  ” that will ”  not stop biodiversity loss, let alone reverse it “. It could even be an “  open invitation to greenwashing  ”.

 Chinese Environment Minister Huang Runqiu told him on Saturday that ” it is not a perfect document, not a document that will satisfy everyone, but it is a document based on everyone’s efforts over the past four years, a document which must be adopted .