This statement was published by the Jane Goodall Institute global family, of which JGI Canada is a proud part.

The Climate crisis is here with us as we approach COP 28. Forests are burning. Oceans are rising. Studies show we have less than a decade to prevent temperatures from growing more than 1.5 degrees. Anything more would be catastrophic. 

Earth’s vital signs appear worse than ever in human history. 

According to a recent scientific report [i], many climate records were broken by enormous margins in 2023. The highest monthly surface temperature ever recorded was in July and was probably the hottest the planet has been in 100,000 years. 

• The planet suffers from the convergence of three closely related crises and needs a global approach to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental inequity. Biodiversity loss and climate change are driven by human economic activities and mutually reinforce each other. They have severe consequences for people – especially the most vulnerable of the planet – and the ecosystems on which we depend. Neither will be successfully resolved unless tackled together. 

• Limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C is crucial to minimize the negative impacts of climate change on both people and nature. Achieving this goal is essential to ensure that natural systems continue to provide critical ecosystem services such as carbon storage, climate regulation, and adaptation. This requires taking immediate and fair action to phase out fossil fuels and subsidies supporting them and deploying sustainable clean energy systems worldwide. 

• Wildlife trafficking and habitat loss are a leading cause of biodiversity loss, endangering many species and aggravating climate change. The Jane Goodall Institute’s years of research and conservation efforts have revealed that this is a complex global issue rooted in poverty, corruption, lack of enforcement, and the growing demand for exotic species. Education and awareness are essential; however, we are running out of time. Political leadership is more necessary than ever, from high-level authorities of the countries’ source of illegally trafficked species to those at the point of destination and transit, as well as international agencies and social networks. Moreover, an updated global legal framework is needed to address this problem and its negative impact on climate, biodiversity, public health, animal health, and the sustainable livelihood of Indigenous and local communities. 

• In Africa, temperatures are rising faster than the global rate. The frequency of droughts has nearly tripled in sub-Saharan Africa since 1979, and sea level rise along African coasts is faster than the global average, which contributes to increasing the frequency and intensity of coastal flooding and erosion. These impacts have severe consequences for local communities and the habitat of many species. One of the main problems of the temperature increase is food scarcity. Food shortages threaten not only the people who depend on the productivity of their crops to generate income and nutrition but also the animals with which they share their environment. The increasingly frequent and prolonged droughts are causing a loss of vegetation, increasing the risk of fires, and threatening the habitats of many species, including chimpanzees. The scientific community estimates that African great apes will lose between 84% and 95% of their current habitat by 2050 due to climate change, land use, and human population growth. That is why, in Africa and across the globe, the Jane Goodall Institute is tackling the issues of biodiversity loss, climate change, and environmental inequity with a holistic vision. Its approach integrates indigenous knowledge, scientific data, and innovative technologies with locally-owned decision-making processes and solutions. We work in partnership with local communities to facilitate and support sustainable initiatives that improve land use and combat deforestation, monitor landscapes of biodiversity significance, assess potential climate change effects on natural systems, integrate climate adaptation strategies, protect endangered wildlife, and take action to ensure a viable future for all life on Earth. 

We are seeing the consequences of the crazy idea that there can be unlimited economic development on a planet with finite natural resources and a growing population. Decisions are made for short-term gain at the expense of protecting the environment for the future. Now, the world’s population is estimated at over 8 billion people, and it is expected to be closer to 10 billion by 2050. Then there is our greedy lifestyle, our reckless burning of fossil fuels, the demand for meat, poverty – and, of course, we must also tackle corruption. 

Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, and UN Messenger of Peace. 

• Delivering on finance is indispensable to achieving climate objectives. 80% of global biodiversity is in the hands of local communities and indigenous peoples who receive less than 1% of climate funding. The Jane Goodall Institute calls for an ambitious scaling up of global climate financing and funding to support meaningful action across the entire continuum of mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage, including through the scaled-up implementation of high-integrity nature-based solutions, with an increased proportion made directly available to indigenous peoples and local communities. Low-income countries that have contributed the least to global emissions are now disproportionately bearing the costs of the climate crisis. Addressing this environmental inequity requires high-income countries to set bold targets and meet financial commitments to support climate adaptation in the most affected communities. 

• It is essential to accelerate the implementation of renewable energy systems, including community-based renewable energy and micro-grids, considering that the need to ensure a fair transition does not harm the environment or communities. 

• The Jane Goodall Institute adheres to the call to all Parties to avoid overshooting the temperature rise targets agreed to under the Paris Agreement and particularly cautions against reliance on the deployment of unproven, untested, and unregulated geoengineering technologies to reach net-zero emission goals such as solar radiation modification (SRM), ocean fertilization and alkalinization and other carbon dioxide removal methods (CDR). Aside from the risk of delaying or lowering national ambition on emission reductions, there are unresolved sensitive issues around these technologies’ ethics, consent, equity, and governance. 

Globally, the Jane Goodall Institute has chapters in 25 countries dedicated to tackling the most pressing biodiversity challenges and fostering environmental leadership. Our youth-led Roots & Shoots program highlights the intergenerational inequity, as children and young people today will be most impacted by the devastating effects of climate change and biodiversity loss in the future if we fail to act now.

The Jane Goodall Institute calls on all the participants of the COP28 to make urgent, courageous decisions based on scientific recommendations [ii] [iii] [iv], consider our children’s common future more than the short-term interests of certain countries or businesses, and move towards accelerating the energy transition. The climate emergency is not just an isolated environmental issue; it has become a systemic, existential threat to all life. 

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