Canadian Manufacturing

Prime Minister Trudeau says countries are ready to agree to conservation targets

The Canadian Press

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Negotiations with some of the five biggest countries in the world, including Russia and China, pose a diplomatic and political challenge.

As negotiations officially began at the COP15 UN nature talks in Montreal on Dec. 7, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said almost two-thirds of the countries at the table have already agreed to protect 30 per cent of the world’s land and water by the end of the decade.

But he said the negotiations with some of the five biggest countries in the world, including Russia and China, pose a diplomatic and political challenge.

“International relations are complicated,” said Trudeau during an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the COP15 negotiations.

COP15 is the negotiations of all 196 parties to the UN convention on biodiversity that was first drafted in 1992. The convention is to nature, including habitats and all wild species, what the climate change convention is to global warming.


The discussions in Montreal — which have been delayed two years because of COVID-19 — are meant to draft a new biodiversity plan that would halt and restore natural habitats and wild species that have been damaged or are in decline mainly due to human activities.

The UN assessed in 2019 that one-quarter of animal and plant species in the world are at risk of extinction by 2100. It also said three-quarters of land-based ecosystems and two-thirds of marine environments had been “significantly” changed by human actions, including agricultural and industrial expansions, consumption patterns and population growth.

When it comes to protecting nature, size matters. The five biggest countries by land mass — Russia, Canada, China, the United States and Brazil — are home to more than half the world’s forested lands. Russia alone has one-fifth of it.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault made the point that 30 per cent of Canada’s land mass is equivalent to the entirety of every country in the European Union.

Losing forests, wetlands, grasslands, and damage to coastlines and pollution in marine areas, all negatively affect the harmony of biodiversity humans depend on for everything from clean air and water to food security and a safe climate.


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