On the Coattails of Climate? Opportunities and Threats of a Warming Earth for Biodiversity Conservation


The relationship between climate change and biodiversity was a central issue at the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In this paper we draw from participant observation data collected at COP 10, and related policy documentation, to examine how concerns about climate change are shaping the conservation policy landscape – in terms of the knowledge and rationales used as inputs, networks of actors involved, objectives sought, and actions proposed. We find that debates at the intersection of climate and biodiversity were overwhelmingly framed in relation to, or through the lens of carbon. Through a discussion of four core Climate-Motivated Responses, we illustrate how ‘‘carbon-logic’’, and the initiatives that it generates, simultaneously creates threats to the objectives sought by some actors, and opportunities for the objectives sought by others. We situate our observations in the context of some of the historical dilemmas that have faced conservation, and discuss this current moment in the dynamic trajectory of conservation governance: a moment when decisions about conserving biodiversity are becoming entangled with carbon-logic and the market. In this case, while some actors seek opportunities for biodiversity ends by riding the coattails of the climate agenda, the threats of doing so may undermine the biological and social objectives of the CBD convention itself.



CBD, climate change