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 The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) will be on-site in Dubai for COP28 next week, urging governments and other stakeholders to recognise wildlife conservation’s critical role in leading urgent efforts to confront the climate crisis.

The 28th Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, commonly called COP28, will take stock of progress in reaching the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global warming 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

With the world currently woefully off target and heading for close to 3°C of warming, there is a growing understanding of the importance of nature in combatting climate change. But discussion of nature-based solutions to date has tended to focus on critical ecosystems for addressing climate change—forests, wetlands, mangroves, or seagrasses—as if these are static spaces that exist in isolation from their parts—including animals—that enable them to function and absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere.

“IFAW believes we can still reach the Paris Agreement goals but only if we halt and reverse nature loss. Wild animals are some of our most powerful allies, driving ecosystem processes that capture carbon from the atmosphere – we need to harness this role as a nature-based solution to the climate crisis,” said Simon Addison, IFAW’s Climate Change Adviser.

Wild animals protect the carbon already stored in nature, prevent it from being released into the atmosphere, and help nature soak up and store even more carbon. Recent scientific evidence has shown the remarkable potential of wild animals to mitigate climate change.

It is estimated that protecting and restoring populations of only nine species and species groups—marine fish, whales, sharks, grey wolf, wildebeest, sea otter, musk ox, African forest elephants, and American bison—could collectively facilitate the capture of more than 95% of the amount of CO2 needed every year to help keep global warming below the 1.5°C threshold. Yet this potential has remained largely unrecognised in discussions at climate COPs so far.

“Restoring wild animal populations offers an inspirational vision and practical action we can take to combat climate change today,” says Addison.

Source of original article: Africa Science News (africasciencenews.org).
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