Cross party MPs call for next PM to attend COP15, and set record for number of species mentioned in a parliamentary debate

Friday 15 July 2022

In a joint release, the RSPB and others take a look at the MPs debate on the UK’s leadership at the Convention on Biological Diversity ahead of COP15, and what this means for nature

LONDON, 14 JULY: Today in the UK Parliament, cross party MPs gathered for a Backbench Business Committee debate on the Convention on Biological Diversity’s upcoming COP15 - the first ever time COP15 has been raised in a parliamentary debate. They championed the vital importance of the summit, which is due to take place 5-17 December 2022 in Montreal, Canada, under the presidency of China.

Headlines include:

  • Cross party MPs called on the new UK Prime Minister to attend COP15, and agreed on the vital
    importance of the summit and tackling nature loss.
  • The new Defra Minister - Steve Double - stated that he wants the new PM to attend COP15,
    confirmed that there will be senior level representation at the summit, and stated that this is a
    priority of the Conservative Party.
  • Over 30 species were mentioned in the debate - setting the record for the most species ever
    mentioned in a House of Commons Debate.

Caroline Lucas MP, who led the debate, said: “Our natural world is in a perilous state of decline – we must protect it and restore it, or the damage will be irreversible. I am urging MPs of all parties to heed these warnings, join the debate, and commit to reversing this mass destruction of our biodiversity and wildlife. The wonders of nature make human life both possible and worth living – it’s time we started looking after it”.


MPs spoke passionately about their love for nature, and made urgent calls for action, both at the
global level and at home. They made clear that “warm words need to be replaced by meaningful action” (Caroline Lucas), and that “sooner or later rhetoric will meet reality - it’s well past time ministers started to deliver” (Olivia Blake).

MPs made clear that “reversing the trend of biodiversity loss requires urgent transformative change” (Barry Gardiner), and that “climate and nature are two sides of the same coin” (Chris Grayling). They stated that the new global biodiversity framework set at COP15 cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. Hillary Benn MP called for “every country that makes a commitment to have a plan back home to deliver it” and Deidre Brock requested the new PM to “convene a meeting of leaders in advance to foster consensus”. The minister was pressed on the UK’s delivery plans, and Shadow Environment Minister Ruth Jones called for the “new PM to set out clearly how they will pull nature back from the brink”.

This follows a Parliamentary event in May, where over 40 MPs and Peers from all parties pledged to “stand up for a nature-positive world” by urging and supporting the UK Government to take a strong leadership role at the upcoming UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15 summit.

The debate took place in the face of the unfolding UK leadership contest. Environmental groups are calling for the biodiversity and climate crisis to be at the top of the agendas of candidates, and will be expecting the new PM to fully engage with, and champion, CBD COP15 in December. MPs and Peers will also be looking for this leadership; a group of cross-party parliamentarians recently wrote to Boris Johnson to call for his attendance at COP15, and this request will carry forward to his successor. MPs made this request clear in today’s debate.

MPs noted that recent interim negotiations under the CBD made limited progress, bringing the chances of success at COP15 into jeopardy. An injection of urgency, unity, and political will is desperately needed. In today’s debate, MPs shed light on the peril faced by wildlife, including on our doorsteps; Chris Grayling spoke of the perilous state of our hedgehogs. The UK has the ability to use its international influence—and legacy of ambition for nature from the G7, COP26, and the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature—to foster international consensus.

Environmental groups are calling for COP15 to be the moment that the global community agrees on
transformational action to tackle the biodiversity crisis in this crucial decade. They stress that the UK
must use its international influence to secure an ambitious new framework for biodiversity at COP15 and support a nature positive goal for 2030—at both an international and domestic level.

Species mentioned included (full list of over 30 to be confirmed in Hansard): swift, house martin, greenfinch, cuckoo, nightingale, round headed rampion, hedgehog, porpoise, sea turtle, water vole, oak tree, silver birch, red squirrel, hazel dormouse, puffin.

Image: David Wootton

This is a joint release between: Green Alliance, RSPB, Marine Conservation Society, WWF, The Wildlife Trust, Soil Association, PTES, Woodland Trust, Wildlife and Countryside Link and Zero Hour. 

Please contact the RSPB press office for more information. 

Last Updated: Friday 15 July 2022

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