U.N. chief backs new blueprint to end "suicidal" war on nature

LONDON (Reuters) - A new scientific blueprint for tackling climate change, pollution and the accelerating loss of plant and animal species published on Thursday shows how to end the world's "suicidal" war on nature, U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said.

FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech at the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, December 18, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

The United Nations Environment Programme report builds on the findings of previous global studies to help governments, businesses and other actors adopt a more joined-up approach to tackling interlocking environmental crises.

“Humanity is waging war on nature. This is senseless and

suicidal. The consequences of our recklessness are already

apparent in human suffering, towering economic losses and

the accelerating erosion of life on Earth,” Guterres wrote in the preface.

The climate emergency, the biodiversity crisis and the pollution kill millions of people every year and have left the planet broken, he said.

“But (the report) also guides us to a safer place by providing a peace plan and a post-war rebuilding programme.”

Among the recommendations was that more than $5 trillion in annual subsidies to sectors such as fossil fuels and industrial agriculture, fishing and mining should be redirected to accelerate a shift to a low-carbon future and restore nature.

Governments should also look beyond economic growth as an indicator of performance and take account of the value of preserving ecosystems, the report said.

It aims to encourage governments to take more ambitious steps at a U.N. climate conference in Glasgow in November and during parallel talks to agree a new global pact on preserving biodiversity.

With countries launching economic recovery packages in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the authors hope their policy prescriptions will encourage more coordinated action to rapidly transform destructive industrial and financial systems.

“We have to be more holistic both in the way we look at the issues and the way we address the issues,” said Robert Watson, a British environmental scientist and a lead author of the report, called “Making Peace with Nature,” told Reuters.

Reporting by Matthew Green; Editing by Angus MacSwan