Reflections on Global Conferences: COP15 & COP27
At the Australian Museum’s Climate Solutions Centre we are delighted by the historic outcome of the global summit for nature, just concluded in Montreal. The 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) resulted in an agreement signed by nearly 200 nations to protect 30% of the planet for nature by 2030.
The 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) resulted in an agreement signed by nearly 200 nations to protect 30% of the planet for nature by 2030.
The agreement crucially places a strong emphasis on indigenous leadership in conservation, redirects US$500billion of environmentally destructive subsidies, and triples funding for conservation in developing countries. The commitment also includes restoring 30% of the planet’s degraded ecosystems and some (limited) reduction to pesticide use. Global cooperation on these fronts has been a long time in the making and it is critical to ensuring a liveable biosphere.
COP 15 had started with the UN calling for a ‘ceasefire’ on nature. Negotiators, including Australia’s Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, finally resolved the agreement on 19th December at 3:30am Montreal time. Australia was an important contributor, signing up for the global leaders’ pledge for nature. During the two weeks of COP15 Plibersek introduced an ambitious target of zero new extinctions in Australia and is on board with ’30 by 30’ - protecting 30% of land and sea in Australia by 2030.
At the AM, we support species conservation through research and education. The research carried out by the scientists in the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI) increases our understanding of animal life and the impacts of climate change and other pressures on species over time, through fieldwork, wildlife genomics, other collections-based and lab-based research and data collection through citizen science projects. All of this builds the knowledge needed for more effective biodiversity conservation. The AM’s exhibitions, digital resources, public programs and education programs help to bolster awareness of how individuals and groups can support species conservation. The Climate Solutions Centre contributes to this work, highlighting nature-based solutions to the climate crisis.
This year’s global climate conference, COP27 (the 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), in Sharm el-Sheikh last month may not have achieved the significant ratcheting up of emissions reduction targets that we need, but it did bring some wins for climate solutions. Most notably, the assembled countries forged an agreement for long-term high emitters to send ‘Loss and Damage’ funds to developing nations being hit hard by climate-induced disasters. Another reason for optimism was the strengthening of the united efforts of governments, business and community leaders in the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP). The partnership established actions to advance the hugely significant commitment by 140 countries at COP26 to halt deforestation and land degradation by 2030.
Australia joined the Global Offshore Wind Alliance and our Climate Minister, Chris Bowen, announced a bid to host COP31 in 2026. Australia’s improved emissions reduction target was noticed, but overall global reduction commitments are still insufficient to deliver a safe climate. The final Sharm-el-Sheik agreement failed to include a reference to the emissions needing to peak by 2025 to keep the goal of 1.5°C warming alive. Fossil fuels are not being phased out quickly enough and global emissions, unfortunately, continue to rise.
We were therefore glad to see advances in the area that the Climate Solutions Centre works in most directly: Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE). Advancing ACE is a Paris Agreement commitment – to advance public education and engagement, to enable fully-informed, effective responses to the climate crisis. To tune into panel discussions relating to ACE, including a Ministerial Session, ‘Youth Demand Quality Climate Education’:
- ACE & Civil Society Day COP27 recordings and reports.
- Network of European Museum Organisations (NEMO) – webinar with Henry McGhie on ‘Museum action for climate empowerment’.
If we want informed communities, able to ramp up solutions and prepare for disasters, then museums and other institutions interfacing with the public need to do much more to support ACE. We need to open up awareness about the climate and ecological crisis and highlight ways to take action. At COP27, there were talks and pavilion displays by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the Climate Heritage Network, Climate Outreach, America Is Still In and others representing the cultural sector. At the AM’s Climate Solutions Centre we are curating on-site and touring exhibitions, events, digital content (visit our climate change pages!) and developing new climate education resources.
We continue to need everyone, everywhere, to tackle this crisis. To find out more about what you can do, visit our Climate Solutions page or our ‘Changing Climate’ exhibition on the 2nd floor of the AM or, from now until the end of January, our ‘Future Now’ touring exhibition of dioramas about the benefits of regenerating nature and living sustainably in the AM’s Hintze Hall.
Feel free to email the Curator of Climate Change at the AM’s Climate Solution Centre, Dr Jenny Newell, if you have questions or if you’d like to join our mailing list to be kept up to date on our climate programs.