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Extinction crisis: Fear Australia is watering down global agreement

Australia could water down language in a new agreement aimed at stopping the world’s extinction crisis, environmentalists fear.

With over 40,000 species at risk of being wiped out globally, the UN Convention on Biodiversity is meeting in Geneva this month to draft a framework of principles to help reverse the trend.

Words chosen by the delegates will determine how the natural world is managed through to 2030.

Deforested landscape.
Australia has suggested a number of targets be removed from an agreement designed to stop extinctions. Source: Getty/UN

As an active participant in the talks, Australia’s environment department say they “support” setting strong targets within the agreement.

This includes “strong, realistic and measurable goals” that recognise the link between climate change and biodiversity loss.

The country also supports an agreement to protect 30 per cent of the world’s land and sea, and were one of 114 nations to sign on at COP26 to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation” by 2030.

Conservationists warn Australia could weaken biodiversity targets

Despite Australia making these bold environmental commitments, Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) are warning the country could insist on making number of subtle changes during current negotiations that could weaken the framework.

Campaigner Nat Pelle is concerned by the delegation's preference to delete a number of milestones within the agreement that he says would allow progress to be measured.

These could include removing a $700 billion dollar target which is intended to close the gap in funding of biodiversity loss.

While Australia is not the only nation to call the figure into question, AFC say they would like to see Australia leading the world towards stronger commitments.

Those attending the talks are working to stall the world's biodiversity crisis. Source: Getty
Those attending the talks are working to stall the world's biodiversity crisis. Source: Getty

Australia is asking that businesses aren't compelled to “reduce negative impacts by at least half”, but rather "reduce negative impacts".

Pesticide use would no longer be cut "by at least two thirds" and instead be "reduced".

When it comes to the determining what type of extinctions parties will be held to preventing, they suggest adding the words "direct human caused", because some extreme weather cannot be directly linked to human activity.

This is a red flag for ACF who are concerned signatories could distance responsibility when it comes to climate induced extinctions.

Mr Pelle told Yahoo News Australia that without measurable targets, both governments and the business community will struggle to plan for the future.

“Countries should work together to ensure the agreement includes the clear, measurable and transformative goals, milestones and targets that are needed to reverse biodiversity destruction, including a commitment to end human induced extinction,” he said.

“Anything less would be a step backwards from the last agreement and obviously a failure."

Global biodiversity framework negotiations are expected to continue until March 29.

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