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UK nature needs almost 100 billion stg investment over next decade - report

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By Reuters
UK nature needs almost 100 billion stg investment over next decade - report
UK nature needs almost 100 billion stg investment over next decade - report   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

By Simon Jessop

LONDON – Tens of billions of pounds-worth of private investment will be needed for the United Kingdom to achieve the nature-related targets it has set as part of its climate change and biodiversity commitments, a report said on Tuesday.

Commissioned by the Green Finance Institute (GFI), the report added that public finance would not be enough to make up the gap between required and committed spending, which it put at a minimum of up to 97 billion pounds ($132 billion).

The report, entitled ‘The Finance Gap for UK Nature’ covers England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the UK’s overseas territories, said England had the most ground to make up, with a gap of up to 53 billion pounds.

Biocarbon projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration were the biggest single area, needing 20 billion pounds over the decade, the report said. Such projects include planting woodland, preserving peat bogs and switching to more regenerative farming practices.

“The data is conclusive that public investment – even if funding commitments increase – will not be enough to fund the UK’s nature recovery ambitions,” said GFI Chief Executive Rhian-Mari Thomas.

“Private investment is therefore urgently required in addition to public sector funding if we hope to transition to a net zero and nature-positive economy.”

The GFI, a forum for public-private collaboration in green finance, commissioned the report from environmental economics consultancy eftec.

“Natural capital”, which seeks to monetise protecting resources such as water, soil and air, is of growing interest to investors, with some aiming to sell carbon credits based on the overall reduction in emissions such projects produce.

The UK has enshrined its net-zero target for carbon emissions by 2050 into law but been criticised by environmentalists for not setting out an ambitious enough path to that goal.

With animal and plant species going extinct at a rate not seen in 10 million years, global leaders are meeting this week at the U.N. Conference on Biodiversity, known as COP15, in the city of Kunming, China.

One of the aims of the conference is for more countries to commit to conserving 30% of their land. At present, around 70 countries, including the UK, have signed up, according to the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People.

A May report from the United Nations Environment Programme said $8.1 trillion would need to be spent across the world before 2050 to solve the interlinked climate, biodiversity and land degradation crises.

($1 = 0.7342 pounds)