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Environment ministers try to get Montreal biodiversity talks on track in last days

More than 60 nations from the global south walked out Wednesday over funding concerns
Police officers walk past the convention center at the COP15 biodiversity conference Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Environment ministers from around the world are gathering in Montreal for the last few days of a conference aimed at preserving what’s left of the planet’s biodiversity.

Talks at COP15 hit a speed bump early Wednesday when more than 60 nations from the global south walked out over concerns that pledges from rich countries to fund conservation were too small and too vague.

But Canadian Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says he doesn’t expect the dispute to affect the overall success of the conference.

Guilbeault says the walkout was initiated by a Brazilian delegation that was operating under policies left over from that country’s government under President Jair Bolsonaro.

He says the Brazilian government of president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said it will be much more progressive.

A meeting of delegation heads was held Wednesday to resolve the dispute.

A Canadian government official says financing of conservation from rich to poor countries will be spelled out by the end of the conference.

“I would describe the meeting as three hours of ‘violent agreement,’ with all parties agreeing that ambition and resource mobilization go hand in hand,” the official said in a text.

“(The European Union) acknowledged that target 19.1 (on financing) will have a number by the end of COP.”

The environment ministers have five days to reach a deal before the conference ends on Monday.

While negotiators report progress on many of the proposed deal’s 22 targets, many of the most contentious — including the amount of land to be preserved and how that conservation will be paid for — are still to be worked out.

Advocates are hoping the nations will agree to set aside 30 per cent of the world’s land and oceans by 2030, the bare minimum scientists say is needed to stop the collapse of ecosystems as well as limit climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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