“Climate change and biodiversity loss are threatening human well-being as well as society,” said report co-chair Hans-Otto Portner, a German biologist who helps oversee the impacts group of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Earth’s naturally changing climate shaped what life developed, including humans, but once people in the industrialized world started pumping fossil fuels into the air, that triggered cascading problems, Portner said.
“It’s a high time to fix what we got wrong," he said. "The climate system is off-track and the biodiversity is suffering.”
There are many measures that can address both problems at once, the report said.
"Protecting and restoring high-carbon ecosystems," such as tropical forests and peatlands, should be high priority, said co-author Pete Smith, a plant and soil scientist at the University of Aberdeen.
While some climate solutions can increase species loss, scientists said efforts to curb extinctions don’t really harm the climate.
Yunne Shin, director of research at French National Research Institute, said the bulk of measures taken to protect biodiversity will also help curb climate change. While she applauded growing interest in nature-based solutions, she said, conservation measures “must be accompanied by clear cuts in emissions.”
“This report is an important milestone,” said Simon Lewis, chairman of global change science at University College London, who was not part of the report.
“Finally the world’s bodies that synthesize scientific information on two of the most profound 21st century crises are working together," he said. “Halting biodiversity loss is even harder than phasing out fossil fuel use.”
Read stories on climate issues by The Associated Press at https://apnews.com/hub/climate
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FILE - In this March 19, 2019 file photo, blades turn at a wind farm atop a hill behind a large tree in Canton, Maine. To save the planet, the world needs to tackle twin crises of climate change and species loss together, using solutions that fix both not just one, two different teams of United Nations scientists said in a joint report released on Thursday, June 10, 2021.(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
Credit: Robert F. Bukaty
Credit: Robert F. Bukaty