Zac addresses United Nations Climate Fund. UK launches new biodiversity fund and doubles climate spending

Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Minister of State for International Development and Environment, Zac Goldsmith called for urgent action to address the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. To watch Zac’s speech please click here.

Zac also welcomed UK commitments to significantly increase its funding to help turn the tide on extinctions and invest in nature based solutions to tackle climate change.

In addition to announcing significant new funding for nature and biodiversity around the world, the UK Prime Minister pledged to double UK climate funding

Zac said: “Our planet’s rich biodiversity is under threat. As we destroy the world’s forests, we drive ever more species to extinction, we erode nature’s ability to cope with climate change and we undermine the livelihoods of millions of people. The UK recognises that we are at a tipping point and that action now is both urgent and essential. Our contribution reflects that and will help turn the tide on the environmental crisis we face.”

Addressing the UN, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told world leaders that biodiversity and climate change are two sides of the same coin and must be addressed in tandem if we’re to protect the planet for future generations. Calling for greater global action to address these twin threats, he announced that the UK would double its funding for climate change.

The new funds will include: 

  •  A £150 million investment in the UK’s successful Darwin Initiative, which supports projects to protect species, fund and test innovative new ideas, and provide fellowships for promising conservationists in UK institutions; critically-endangered spoon-billed sandpiper from extinction 
  • A new £100 million Landscapes Fund to preserve habitats and support biodiversity including through the creation of ‘green corridors’. This could help 250,000 elephants in the KAZA region of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe migrate safely from one reserve to another along a new ‘elephant corridor’.
  • A £45 million in further funding to tackle the Illegal Wildlife Trade, including through new projects under the existing IWT Challenge Fund.
  • A new programme to tackle climate change across Asia – including by preserving and restoring forests, and protecting mangroves – which absorb carbon dioxide and act as a natural barrier to protect coastal areas from flooding caused by climate change. 
  • New efforts to prevent illegal deforestation in Ghana, Liberia, Indonesia, Cameroon, Vietnam and the Republic of Congo by working with local communities to tackle illegal logging and helping build markets for sustainable products;
  • The Just Rural Transition - an ambitious programme to help transform the way we use land. The OECD estimates that the major economies of the world will spend over $700 billion in conventional agricultural subsidies. The programme aims to redirect that money towards supporting genuinely sustainable agriculture, the effect of which would be transformational for nature, climate and humanity.

    Zac told leaders; “even though deforestation accounts for almost 20% of global greenhouse gas increases, it receives a paltry 2% of climate finance from governments and development organisations.”

    He added; “The world’s scientists have warned us that even a 1.5C will be utterly devastating to nature and to humanity. And only a few months ago we saw the results of most comprehensive yet assessment of the state of nature. It told us that a million species are facing extinction. Appallingly, we lost 30 football pitches worth of forests every single minute last year.”

    “In our efforts to tackle climate change, the extraordinarily important role of nature has been overlooked. In reality, the two are inextricably linked. Forests provide the clearest proof of that. Deforestation itself is the second leading cause of climate change globally. But in protecting forests, we are also tackling the extinction crisis. 80% of the world’s biodiversity exists in our forests. And protecting forests means tackling poverty. Forest destruction directly undermines the livelihoods of 1.2bn of the world’s poorest people.”

    To read more about the biodiversity funding, click here

    To read more about the PM’s commitment to double climate funding, click here.