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Biodiversity And Climate Crises Need To Go In Tandem: GreenBiz


Climate finance talks about finding the means to source funds – such as from the Corporate Social Responsibility measure – to finance strategies and action-oriented plans to minimize the impacts of climate change upon biodiversity.

By Salam Rajesh

“Addressing the Biodiversity and Climate crises in tandem is increasingly urgent”. This note of urgency forms part of the assessment report featured in the annual ‘State of Green Business 2023’ presented by Joel Makower and other science writers of the GreenBiz group.

The assessment opines that one key example of how biodiversity and climate change are intertwined is the low-carbon transition “which will require a huge expansion in the supply of elements like lithium and copper to support new infrastructure”.

It is generally accepted that the two are intricately connected in terms of one’s influence upon the other, so much as the evident impacts of global temperature rise is largely seen to have drastic negative impacts upon species as their habitats die down from fast changing climatic conditions. Erratic rainfall pattern is causing extreme droughts in many parts of the globe, forcing species to migrate to new pastures in search of water and food, and in the process shifting the biodiversity table across regions.

Referring to an analysis of the S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment data, Richard Mattison (President, S&P Global Sustainable) writes, “At present, financial institutions’ offerings related to biodiversity or ecosystem services are far less developed than their products geared toward climate change”.

This basically brings out the crucial discussion on how companies that are in the extractive business need to look at alternatives in order to spare biodiversity rich areas from unwanted destruction in their search for minerals and oil, or for commercial plantation.

Quite interestingly, the assessment report refers to business entities’ activism in terms of ‘No Gross Deforestation’ and ‘No Net Deforestation’ while analyzing the level of impacts by companies on the biodiversity. ‘No gross deforestation’ refers that companies have made commitment to end all deforestation, while ‘No net deforestation’ indicates that “damages linked to business activity are offset by at least equivalent gains, avoiding a net loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services”.

It again brings back the critical discussion on how companies are liable to compensate for damages on account of their businesses and the subsequent impacts on biodiversity rich pockets such as the tropical rainforests. The concept and practice on ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ is founded on such assessment, wherein corporate are held responsible to contribute funds for undoing some of the damages they had done in pursuit of their several businesses particularly connected to nature reserves.

The other interesting reference to business entities in the report is the reference to ‘Net Positive Impact’ and ‘No Net Loss’. Referring to the percentage of companies making nature-related commitments by industry, the ‘Net positive impact’ (NPI) means that “corporate actions on biodiversity, such as habitat protection, are greater than the impact from its business activity”.

The reference to ‘No net loss’ indicates that damages linked to business activity are offset by at least equivalent gains, avoiding a net loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The assessment study says that “Commitment to NPI typically goes further than the one to No Net Loss”. It basically would mean to say that companies have a bigger responsibility to mitigation measures on impacts that they had committed in the very first place.

During this decade and in the past, there have been numerous instances of Indigenous peoples across the globe fighting back the intrusion of companies and business entities on the ground that their purposes of business undermine the importance of biodiversity conservation and the protection of vital forests and the species that these forests nourish.

It is not only about forests that the concern is centered on. The concern is also about wetlands disappearing under anthropogenic pressures, and wetland species facing extinction at a rapid pace. For instance, Wetlands International says, “One in three freshwater species and 25% of all wetland species face extinction from wetland decline. 81% of inland wetland species and 36% of coastal and marine species have declined in the last 50 years”.

Wetlands, too, are being reclaimed for different human activities and impacted by business entities for commercial activities, and also their natural environment are being destructed rapidly or altered dangerously as in the case of major hydro projects and damming.

The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), Ramsar Convention secretariat, Wetlands International, the World Conservation Union, and others are deeply concerned with the assessment that, “More than 80% of all wetlands have disappeared since the 1700s”, while referring that the trend is accelerating ever since, with at least 35 percent of wetlands lost since the year 1970.

On the other side of the fence, as per an assessment of the Global Forest Coalition’s ‘Briefing AFR100: Driving Commercial Plantation Expansion in Africa?’ (2022) report, “30 participating countries currently have targets involving commercial plantations and this involves over 4.5 million hectares of commercial tree plantation expansion and 770,000 hectares of improved plantation management. This is equivalent to a 91% increase in the land area currently occupied by commercial plantations in Africa”.

“This expansion of commercial timber plantations will have devastating impacts on ecological integrity, indigenous diversity and ecosystem services, compromising water and food security for many rural communities”, the Global Forest Coalition report stressed.

Recent global discussions at the UN forum had laid emphasis on affecting a mechanism to address Damage and Loss caused by climate change processes. This outlines the urgency to find solutions towards mitigating the impact of climate change processes in order to prevent further loss and damages to nature and biological resources primarily due to drastic weather and climate events.

Climate finance talks about finding the means to source funds – such as from the Corporate Social Responsibility measure – to finance strategies and action-oriented plans to minimize the impacts of climate change upon biodiversity.

The concern on biodiversity loss is based on the stated argument that with every species lost the chain in the natural system is being broken, endangering further loss to other species when their food cycle breaks down. The grasslands disappearing could impact the angulates which in turn could impact the predators, thus leading to a chain of species disappearing one after the other.

(The writer looks at environmental stories through the journalistic lens. He can be reached at [email protected])

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