The UK government has been excoriated for its failure to hit 85% of the environmental and biodiversity targets it pledged to meet a decade ago.
The government’s own report submitted to the UN, admits a failure to meet 14 out of 20 targets it committed to at the 2010 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held in Nagoya, Japan.
However, the reality is even worse according to a report by conservation charity, the Royal Society for the Protection Birds (RSPB). They state the UK has missed 85% of its Aichi Biodviersity Targets – 17 out of 20 commitments – set at the CDB, and had actually worsened in six of the targets.
‘Gov’t creates an impression of taking this stuff seriously’
The government’s report is a “rose tinted interpretation,” according to the RSPB’s Kate Jennings. “What we have seen is an awful lot of positive rhetoric, what we’re not seeing is the action to back that up.
“The government creates an impression of taking this stuff seriously but as soon as you dig down into the action that’s just not reflected.”
According to the government report : “The results show that overall the UK is making good progress, with five targets on track to be achieved, and progress being made for 14 more.”
Jennings, who authored the RSPB report, strongly disputes the government’s claims and said: “We are not making progress at a slow rate, it’s getting worse, at an alarming rate”.
‘One-in-ten species faces extinction’
The charity has also condemned the government for its failings to assist threatened species at serious risk of extinction, saying “no progress” has been made.
The RSPB described the falling numbers of rare birds as “catastrophic” and warned “it won’t be terribly long before we lose these birds permanently” without government intervention to reverse the trend.
“If the next decade is like the last one, I’d be surprised if we have any left at the end of it,” commented Jennings, adding: “There is a massive gap between the government’s rhetoric and the reality of what’s actually happening”.
The charity says 40% of species in the UK have been in decline since 1970 while the 2019 State of Nature report states one-in-ten species is threatened with extinction.
‘God help the lot of us’
Chief executive of the RSPB Beccy Speight, quoted in the Telegraph, said: “The UK is not alone in failing to meet the ambitious targets set out 10 years ago, but it is now time that the high ambitions set by successive governments becomes action at home as well as leading the international effort.“
Speight, quoted in the Guardian, added: “We have targets enshrined in law to tackle the climate emergency, but none, yet, to reverse the crisis facing nature. We cannot be in this same position in 2030 with our natural world vanishing due to inaction.”
Jennings said: “It could not be more clear that what we’re seeing is overall decline,” and added: “We’re fundamentally dependent on nature, so God help the lot of us if we don’t make serious headway in the next decade … Past performance doesn’t inspire confidence.”
‘Humanity is at a crossroads’ – UN
The UK government is not alone in failing to hit its targets as today’s publication of the UN’s Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 report attests. Its findings show the world combined did not meet one of the 20 Aichi targets – for the second consecutive decade.
The highly alarming report follows those published in the last week by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the WWF.
Humanity is at a crossroads, said the UN’s biodiversity head, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema. “Earth’s living systems as a whole are being compromised. And the more humanity exploits nature in unsustainable ways and undermines its contributions to people, the more we undermine our own wellbeing, security and prosperity.”