Despite some modest progress, wildlife groups have expressed their deep disappointment at the outcome of COP27 (27th Conference of the Parties), the United Nations climate change conference that concluded on 18th November in Egypt.


With wildlife around the world already experiencing the widespread effects of climate change, it was hoped that this year's COP would significantly build on the global agreement reached at last year's COP26 in Glasgow.

“By failing to deliver progress on cutting (greenhouse gas) emissions and phasing out fossil fuels, governments have failed to reach a more ambitious agreement than in Glasgow and put our health and security at risk,” says Katie White from WWF.

“The sense of urgency wasn't there and this was absolutely a missed opportunity,” agrees Katie-Jo Luxton from the RSPB.

On the plus side, groups welcomed this year's final summary of COP negotiations which for the first time included references to biodiversity and nature-based solutions in tackling climate change.

Nature-based solutions refers to the way in which ecosystems such as forests and peatlands take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere thereby acting as natural carbon sinks.

“Approaching climate and biodiversity challenges as two sides of the same coin is essential for effective international decision making and action,” says Bethan Laughlin from the Zoological Society of London.

Please note external videos may contain ads:

In a speech to COP delegates, the UK environment secretary Thérèse Coffey signalled the government's aim for the forthcoming UN Convention on Biological Diversity in December:

“We will strive for an ambitious agreement that includes a global target of protecting 30 per cent of land and ocean by 2030 and a commitment to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.”

The minister also committed £30 million of seed finance for the Big Nature Impact Fund, a new public-private fund for nature restoration in the UK.

Whilst welcoming new funding, Kathryn Brown from the Wildlife Trusts questioned the government's commitment to protecting biodiversity:

“The level of action from UK government needs to match its own rhetoric on nature. We are nowhere near the goal of restoring 30 per cent of land and sea for nature by 2030 as we are nearer just 3 per cent.”


Main image: plenary session of the UNFCCC COP27 climate conference, November 2022, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. © Thomas Trutschel/Contributor/Getty


Simon Birch is an award-winning freelance journalist who has specialised in environmental and ethically themed features for 20 years. He regularly contribute to a wide range of national newspapers and magazines.