The global commitment to combat climate change agreed by 195 nations in Paris at the COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference holds potential to benefit natural areas and wildlife. The agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees, even 1.5 degrees if possible, above pre-industrial levels. The agreement also requires countries to develop action plans on how they intend to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and how they will adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change.

One of the ways to achieve this ambitious goal, according to the agreement, is to reach a balance between carbon sources and carbon sinks, which includes areas like oceans, prairie, peatlands and forests, between 2050 and 2100. Therefore, investing in our ecosystems should be an important part of Canada’s action plan. Canada is home to about a third of the world’s boreal forests and peatlands, a diminishing prairie, and is bordered by three oceans. These ecosystems, if they remain healthy, can make a world of difference in reducing atmospheric carbon at a global scale, while also providing clean water, food, fibre and other services that are the foundation of much of our economy.

Wildlife is an indicator of the condition of an ecosystem, so by ensuring wildlife populations and habitat are healthy, we are also making a critical contribution to helping people and communities.  An important step is to minimize the impact of any threat (habitat loss, contaminants, over-use, etc) on top of climate change so that wildlife and our ecosystems have the greatest chance to adapt and survive.

Natural areas are one of our greatest allies in the fight against climate change, so adaptation must include more than people.  It must include wildlife and the ecosystems that wildlife – and people – depend upon.  CWF and our supporters look forward to working to ensure adaptation that includes ecosystems and wildlife is also part of Canada’s solution to climate change.

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The CWF COP21 Delegation
The CWF COP21 Delegation