COP15 in under way in Montreal, Canada and Ireland has sent a delegation to attend these negotiations that will hopefully deliver a plan to address global biodiversity loss.
The talks are centred around the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) which consists of 21 targets that will not only support the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but will serve to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.
We have eight years to halt the destruction of our natural world or it might reach a state where is becomes beyond repair. So why is COP15 and the GBF important for business in Ireland?
Of the 21 GBF targets, the business community should be tuned into two specifically:
Target 15: All businesses (public and private, large, medium and small) assess and report on their dependencies and impacts on biodiversity, from local to global, and progressively reduce negative impacts, by at least half and increase positive impacts, reducing biodiversity-related risks to businesses and moving towards the full sustainability of extraction and production practices, sourcing and supply chains, and use and disposal.
This essentially means that all Irish businesses, from your local hairdresser to global multinationals operating within the state will now have to understand how their actions and activities impact on nature. How do they contribute to pollution? How are they using land? Does the business contribute to or facilitate the introduction of invasive species? What is their contribution to climate change? Does the business drive the over-exploitation of natural resources?
They will also have to appreciate how their business depends on the natural world, and how the degradation of nature may pose risks to their ability to continue operating. Furthermore, Irish businesses will be expected to develop a strategy and action plan to reduce their negative impacts by half and start the healing process by investing in nature restoration.
Target 18: Redirect, repurpose, reform or eliminate incentives harmful for biodiversity, in a just and equitable way, reducing them by at least US$500billion per year, including all of the most harmful subsidies, and ensure that incentives, including public and private economic and regulatory incentives, are either positive or neutral for biodiversity.
In 2019, the Irish Government spent €4.1bn on environmentally damaging subsidies (Lee, 2019). These included subsidising the use of fossil fuels to the tune of €2.5bn, and €1.5bn to support agricultural activities that could cause significant environmental damage.
For example, rather than providing low income households with fossil fuel subsidies, that money would be much better spent retrofitting older properties to become more energy efficient. Most of the environmentally damaging subsidies are disguised as zero or low tax rates which incentivise the use of a potentially damaging commodity like chemical fertilisers.
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