Push to Scale-up Ecosystem Protection at Global Climate Strike

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Push to Vastly Scale-Up Nature Protection as Conservationists Join Greta Thunberg’s Global Climate Strike – the largest environmental protests in world history!

Key Points:

**Today Endangered Ecosystems Alliance (EEA) supporters and other conservation groups will join the Global Climate Strike protests, the largest environmental protests in world history (today’s protest in Montreal potentially could be the very largest environmental protest in history, rivalling or exceeding the 250,000 climate protesters in New York City a week ago), across the country. 

**The EEA is calling for greater ambition of the federal and provincial governments to scale-up the protection of Canada’s diverse land and marine ecosystems, which draw down vast amounts of atmospheric carbon each year, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. EEA is calling for 50% protection of Canada’s land and marine ecosystems by 2030. The federal Liberals announced a 25% protection target by 2025 yesterday for Canada’s land and ocean environments, and a 30% target by 2030 – an important step forward that must still be scaled-up with ecosystem-based targets and that must mandate participation by the provinces.

**Scientists note that protecting and restoring native ecosystems on a large scale is a vital game-changer to help avert both the extinction and the climate crises by drawing-down about 1/3 of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions into forests, grasslands, wetlands, and oceans. 

Vancouver, BC - Endangered Ecosystems Alliance campaigner Ken Wu will be at the Global Climate Strike today in Vancouver (1 pm, City Hall, finishes 5 pm), while thousands of activists from hundreds of nature conservation organizations will take part in rallies and marches across the country, calling on all levels of governments to strengthen emissions reductions targets, end fossil fuel subsidies, increase carbon pricing, stop support for fossil fuel megaprojects, expand support for clean energy and energy efficiency – and to quickly scale-up the protection of native ecosystems, including forests (including old-growth forests in BC), grasslands, wetlands, and marine ecosystems. 

The Global Climate Strike rallies, on the last day of a weeklong series of protests between Sept.20 to 27, is the largest environmental mobilization in world history, with an estimated 4 million people around the world participating in protests on the first day on Sept.20. Today’s protest in Canadian cities is expected to be huge, with Greta Thunberg attending the Montreal protest which may very well rival or exceed the New York City protest a week ago in scale (250,000 people last week).  

“It’s hard to believe that little Greta Thunberg, starting last year as a lone 15 year old protesting outside the Swedish parliament, has touched-off a global movement that has expanded into the largest environmental movement in world history! I’m pretty floored and exhilarated by it all. This is a movement to protect the climate that also involves ‘natural solutions’, as Greta has called it, that is, the protection of native ecosystems on a large scale. As someone who has worked in the environmental movement for almost three decades on nature and climate campaigns, the current situation is a rare expansion of environmental consciousness that comes every few decades for a brief duration – roughly 1989 to 1990, 2005 to 2006, and now 2019 to 2020, when the environment is the number one concern in the western world. Now is the time to ensure the key policy, legislative, and structural changes to save the planet and humanity. This momentum won’t last forever - it will diminish sometime late next year with an expected recession – and in the meantime the environmental movement needs to build a broader, more resilient movement involving diverse businesses, unions, faith groups, and multi-cultural outreach, to have the long-term power to even outlast the popular upsurge right now,” stated Ken Wu, Endangered Ecosystems Alliance executive director.

The Endangered Ecosystems Alliance is beginning a national tour and mobilization, which was launched last week at a Sept.18 event in Victoria, followed by a series of hikes and forthcoming rallies and events across Canada in the lead-up to the UN Biodiversity Conference in October, 2020, when a new international protection target for land and marine ecosystems will be negotiated by nations across Earth.  The Endangered Ecosystems Alliance is a new Canadian environmental group, with about 24,000 followers on Facebook, working for the science-based protection of native ecosystems across Canada and that supports Indigenous Protected Areas. 

Greta Thunberg and writer George Monbiot make the case for massive ecosystem protection and restoration as a vital climate solution, as forests and nature draw-down vast amounts of atmospheric carbon and are needed along with major emissions reductions to achieve our climate targets. They make the case to support organizations, movements, and policies and to vote for those who protect native ecosystems. See: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/19/greta-thunberg-we-are-ignoring-natural-climate-solutions

This is based on the recent research showing that we can’t meet our Paris climate targets by emissions reductions alone, given that governments have left emissions reductions too late – and thus the major protection of native ecosystems is needed. See: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/04/science-study-outlines-30-percent-conservation-2030/ 

Scientists have now stated that we are entering the greatest extinction crisis in human history due to climate change, which will exacerbate the crisis caused by habitat destruction and invasive species, threatening 1 million species with extinction this century:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/05/06/extinction-report-1-million-animals-plants-risk-uns-ipebs-says/1115842001 
 
“In terms of a climate solution, the greatest carbon capture devices that exist are called ‘trees’ and ‘nature’. Protecting large areas of forests, grasslands and wetlands would be a huge game-changer to draw-down vast amounts of atmospheric carbon that may give us enough time to transition our entire society into a low-carbon economy,” stated Wu.

 The Endangered Ecosystems Alliance is also calling on the federal government to mandate that the provinces - who are responsible for creating most protected areas in Canada – commit to the national targets, including both the near-term target of 17% by 2020 and a more ambitious 50% by 2030 target, and develop ecosystem-based action plans to achieve them.  See our media release from June at: https://www.endangeredecosystemsalliance.org/news/2019/6/5/june-5-world-environment-day-conservationists-call-for-an-ambitious-50-protection-target-for-canada-by-2030nbsp

In BC, the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance and numerous BC conservation groups are calling on the BC NDP government to implement an annual land acquisition fund to purchase and protect endangered ecosystems on private lands, to undertake conservation financing for First Nations sustainable economic development tied to the implementation of Indigenous Protected Areas and old-growth forest protection, to fully recognize, fund, and legislate protection for Indigenous Protected Areas, to commit in BC to our federal and international protected areas targets, and to end the logging of endangered old-growth forests across the province. 


“We need a World War 2-scale mobilization to avert the climate and biodiversity crises, and the expanded protection of native ecosystems is a fundamental part of this effort. While 50% protection may sound like a lot, it could be done by adding about 3% protection each year until 2030,” stated Wu.
 
Canada currently has adopted a target of 17% protection of its land area by 2020 under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity’s protocol. Currently less than 12% of Canada’s land area is protected, but the federal government has stated they intend to reach the 17% target by the fall of 2020. 
 
Importantly, the federal government has not mandated that the provinces adopt the targets, nor mandated that targets be set for all ecosystem types – resulting in most new protected areas being established in the Arctic and subarctic regions (certainly positive steps forward) in the territories, but with relatively few new protected areas in the more diverse and biologically richer southern ecosystems (deciduous and mixed forests, grasslands, old-growth temperate rainforests, etc.) in the provinces that are of greater interest for timber companies, agriculture, or human settlement.