Nations Pledge to Protect Animal, Plant Diversity | Kanebridge News
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Nations Pledge to Protect Animal, Plant Diversity

Nearly 200 countries reached the non binding deal, which targets conserving at least 30% of land and water areas by 2030

Tue, Dec 20, 2022 9:09amGrey Clock 2 min

Nearly 200 countries agreed to take steps over the next 10 years to protect the world’s diversity of animals and plants.

Under the agreement reached Monday in Montreal, the countries, led by China and Canada but which didn’t include the U.S., agreed to conserve 30% of their land, inland waterways and coastal and ocean areas. They also agreed to limit the risks of pesticides and cut nutrient runoff from farms.

Signatories to the deal said it would mark a big step toward protecting the planet’s biodiversity if countries met their targets by 2030.

The agreement represents “a first step in resetting our relationship with the natural world,” said Inger Andersen, the undersecretary general of the United Nations and executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme.

Yet the deal wasn’t legally binding, and countries may not have the tens of billions of dollars needed to take concrete action. Countries have failed to abide by similar agreements in the past.

Brazil and Indonesia were among countries that signed onto the new agreement but asked for funding. The Vatican wasn’t part of the deal, in addition to the U.S.

The deal could help improve the planet’s future, said Basile van Havre, a co-chair for the working group that negotiated the agreement language, but “it’s going to be difficult, painful and costly to get there.”

The U.S. sent a delegation to Montreal to participate in discussions but it didn’t sign the pact because it isn’t a signatory of a 1992 international treaty encouraging biodiversity conservation. Though Bill Clinton signed the treaty shortly after becoming president, the Senate didn’t ratify it.

The U.S. will work to reach the framework’s targets, a State Department spokesman said. U.S. officials have said they supported a 30% conservation target.

The U.S. is probably more in compliance with agreement goals than most member countries, said Kilaparti Ramakrishna, director of the marine policy centre at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

The deal, known as the Kunmin-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, is aimed at curbing the decline or disappearance of species, known as biodiversity loss.

The world has been losing species of plants and animals in recent years, which many scientists attribute to factors including overfishing, farming practices and destruction of habitats due in part to climate change and industrial and agricultural development.

Under the framework, nations agreed to nearly two-dozen targets for trying to reduce the biodiversity loss, including restoring at least 30% of land, water, coastal and marine ecosystems where it is more difficult for species to survive and reproduce.

Countries signing the deal also pledged to reduce nutrient runoff from farming and other practices by at least half and minimise the introduction of invasive species.

Governments also pledged to ensure that transnational companies disclose their impact on biodiversity, and that wild species harvesting and trade is done safely and legally, to reduce the risk of pathogens spilling over between species.

—William Mauldin contributed to this article.


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China’s EV Juggernaut Is a Warning for the West

Competitive pressure and creativity have made Chinese-designed and -built electric cars formidable competitors

Thu, Jun 8, 2023 4 min

China rocked the auto world twice this year. First, its electric vehicles stunned Western rivals at the Shanghai auto show with their quality, features and price. Then came reports that in the first quarter of 2023 it dethroned Japan as the world’s largest auto exporter.

How is China in contention to lead the world’s most lucrative and prestigious consumer goods market, one long dominated by American, European, Japanese and South Korean nameplates? The answer is a unique combination of industrial policy, protectionism and homegrown competitive dynamism. Western policy makers and business leaders are better prepared for the first two than the third.

Start with industrial policy—the use of government resources to help favoured sectors. China has practiced industrial policy for decades. While it’s finding increased favour even in the U.S., the concept remains controversial. Governments have a poor record of identifying winning technologies and often end up subsidising inferior and wasteful capacity, including in China.

But in the case of EVs, Chinese industrial policy had a couple of things going for it. First, governments around the world saw climate change as an enduring threat that would require decade-long interventions to transition away from fossil fuels. China bet correctly that in transportation, the transition would favour electric vehicles.

In 2009, China started handing out generous subsidies to buyers of EVs. Public procurement of taxis and buses was targeted to electric vehicles, rechargers were subsidised, and provincial governments stumped up capital for lithium mining and refining for EV batteries. In 2020 NIO, at the time an aspiring challenger to Tesla, avoided bankruptcy thanks to a government-led bailout.

While industrial policy guaranteed a demand for EVs, protectionism ensured those EVs would be made in China, by Chinese companies. To qualify for subsidies, cars had to be domestically made, although foreign brands did qualify. They also had to have batteries made by Chinese companies, giving Chinese national champions like Contemporary Amperex Technology and BYD an advantage over then-market leaders from Japan and South Korea.

To sell in China, foreign automakers had to abide by conditions intended to upgrade the local industry’s skills. State-owned Guangzhou Automobile Group developed the manufacturing know-how necessary to become a player in EVs thanks to joint ventures with Toyota and Honda, said Gregor Sebastian, an analyst at Germany’s Mercator Institute for China Studies.

Despite all that government support, sales of EVs remained weak until 2019, when China let Tesla open a wholly owned factory in Shanghai. “It took this catalyst…to boost interest and increase the level of competitiveness of the local Chinese makers,” said Tu Le, managing director of Sino Auto Insights, a research service specialising in the Chinese auto industry.

Back in 2011 Pony Ma, the founder of Tencent, explained what set Chinese capitalism apart from its American counterpart. “In America, when you bring an idea to market you usually have several months before competition pops up, allowing you to capture significant market share,” he said, according to Fast Company, a technology magazine. “In China, you can have hundreds of competitors within the first hours of going live. Ideas are not important in China—execution is.”

Thanks to that competition and focus on execution, the EV industry went from a niche industrial-policy project to a sprawling ecosystem of predominantly private companies. Much of this happened below the Western radar while China was cut off from the world because of Covid-19 restrictions.

When Western auto executives flew in for April’s Shanghai auto show, “they saw a sea of green plates, a sea of Chinese brands,” said Le, referring to the green license plates assigned to clean-energy vehicles in China. “They hear the sounds of the door closing, sit inside and look at the quality of the materials, the fabric or the plastic on the console, that’s the other holy s— moment—they’ve caught up to us.”

Manufacturers of gasoline cars are product-oriented, whereas EV manufacturers, like tech companies, are user-oriented, Le said. Chinese EVs feature at least two, often three, display screens, one suitable for watching movies from the back seat, multiple lidars (laser-based sensors) for driver assistance, and even a microphone for karaoke (quickly copied by Tesla). Meanwhile, Chinese suppliers such as CATL have gone from laggard to leader.

Chinese dominance of EVs isn’t preordained. The low barriers to entry exploited by Chinese brands also open the door to future non-Chinese competitors. Nor does China’s success in EVs necessarily translate to other sectors where industrial policy matters less and creativity, privacy and deeply woven technological capability—such as software, cloud computing and semiconductors—matter more.

Still, the threat to Western auto market share posed by Chinese EVs is one for which Western policy makers have no obvious answer. “You can shut off your own market and to a certain extent that will shield production for your domestic needs,” said Sebastian. “The question really is, what are you going to do for the global south, countries that are still very happily trading with China?”

Western companies themselves are likely to respond by deepening their presence in China—not to sell cars, but for proximity to the most sophisticated customers and suppliers. Jörg Wuttke, the past president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, calls China a “fitness centre.” Even as conditions there become steadily more difficult, Western multinationals “have to be there. It keeps you fit.”


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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