COP15 Biodiversity: “There are many points on which we have not yet agreed”, recognizes Christophe Béchu

The road to an ambitious agreement for the protection of biodiversity is still long. This is essentially the message delivered to French journalists, Thursday, December 15, by Christophe Béchu. “There are many points on which we have not yet agreed as we speak”recognized the Minister of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, who now heads the French delegation to COP15 in Montreal.

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Gathered in Quebec City since December 7, negotiators from 196 countries are struggling to agree on ways to stop the disappearance of animals, plants and natural environments. “I can’t say it otherwise, we are blocked, on funding and on ambitions”said Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, on Thursday morning. Negotiators have left ministers with a mountain to climb in the coming days.”.

The thorny issue of funding

Christophe Béchu, however, wants to believe that progress is possible, particularly on the thorny issue of funding. The least developed countries, which are often reservoirs of biodiversity, are asking the developed countries to provide them with the financial assistance necessary for the application of the measures proposed in Montreal. “Some countries said, as long as we haven’t resolved the financial question, we don’t talk about the rest. Today we have positions that are no longer those, with people open to discussion”he assures.

On this issue, he reiterated the position of the European Union, which is negotiating on behalf of the Member States at this summit: use of existing funds rather than creation of a new mechanism, parallel progress on the objectives of the global framework. “If in the end, we end by saying, we have reached a sum, but that in addition, on pesticides, on agroecology or protected areas, we remain on the status quo, what is the money for?he pretends to wonder. An agreement on biodiversity cannot be reduced to a level of funding decorrelated from ambitions and commitments. And the whole challenge of the coming days is to move forward on all the subjects in parallel”.

Christophe Béchu insisted on the fact that France, according to him, already gives a lot for biodiversity (1 billion euros per year by 2025), compared to other countries. “As we speak, France has no equivalent commitment to its population and wealth than Germany. The other countries, despite the level of commitment they have formulated for the moment, are at levels of commitment relative to their GDP or relative to their number of inhabitants lower than what we do”, he launched. The Minister also observed that only 11 countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom, United States and EU) had pledged to pay aid dedicated to biodiversity (for an amount of 10 billion). “The question of China and the other countries absent from this list arises”he believes.

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The EU “isolated” on pesticides

The Minister also mentioned the reduction of pesticides. The EU, which is however struggling to reduce the use of these products on its soil, pleads for a 50% reduction in the global framework. “This is really one of the subjects on which we are most isolated. We have few allies who are ready to engage in a precise and quantified way”acknowledged the Minister.

Christophe Béchu generally believes that it is crucial that the objectives of the agreement be quantified. “We are also there because in Aichi [la COP de 2010 où les objectifs 2010-2020, non respectés, ont été décidés], we left with no quantified and binding objectives. The subject is how we don’t come out of Montreal with big, uninviting statements”, he believes. The Minister assured that France wishes “eagerly to obtain a deal that is not a bargain deal”. Response Monday, December 19, scheduled closing date of the summit.

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