Read this great article in the Oxford Mail by Kate Oldridge with a message to the G7 health ministers:
Oxford, UK: Leading scientists, local councillors and national campaign groups are urging G7 Health Ministers talks to focus on the key links between biodiversity loss and increased risk of exposure to zoonotic disease outbreaks in upcoming talks, and back legislation to halt it.
The event, designed to enable “global collaboration on key areas to stop future pandemics” will be held in person in Oxford University on 3rd-4th of June, but press releases ahead of the event make no mention of the connection between biodiversity loss and pandemic risk, comprehensively covered in the Government’s own Dasgupta Review on the ‘Economics of Biodiversity’ in February 2021.
Campaigners, businesses and Oxfordshire councils including Oxfordshire County Council are supporting the Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill (CEE Bill). The Bill would tackle the significant biodiversity loss caused by the UK’s supply chains which compound the likelihood of future outbreaks, as explained by Oxford Professor Yadvinder Malhi, who chaired the development of a joint statement on biodiversity by the Science Academies of the G7 nations:
Our patterns and supply chains of consumption of nature’s resources often lead to increased destruction of natural ecosystems such as tropical forest frontiers. This leads to biodiversity loss and climate change, but also increases the risk of pandemics through increased contact between wildlife, livestock, pathogens and people. Hence it is important to take responsibility for our full ecological footprint, which can extend to far reaches of the planet.
Local campaign group, CEE Bill Alliance Oxfordshire, added:
“As we have done with Covid-19, we must also listen to the science about the climate and ecological emergency crisis, which tells us that biodiversity loss is a key factor in increasing the risk of pandemics. In order to avoid a future global health crisis on the scale of Covid-19, it is essential that we stem and reverse biodiversity loss by taking full responsibility for our ecological footprint. The CEE Bill provides the legislative framework for the UK to lead the way on this.”
While the CEE Bill is primarily designed to reverse the climate and ecological crises, it’s clauses demanding the UK limit the adverse impacts of UK consumption on ecosystems mean it could play a vital role in lowering pandemic risk via reduced biodiversity loss.
Dr Janey Messina, Associate Professor, School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford, commented:
“Infectious diseases by definition involve interactions among species, and high biodiversity can reduce rates of pathogen transmission and lower disease risk for human beings, wildlife, livestock, and plants. Growing population density has led to a reduction in biodiversity in many parts of the world where humans and animals interact, so making the promotion of biodiversity a priority at the G7 Oxford talks would be timely as well as necessary.”
Cllr Liz Leffman, Leader of the Council, Oxfordshire County Council, explained why Oxfordshire County Council is supporting the CEE Bill:
“We cannot tackle the global climate emergency if we do not look honestly at what our carbon footprint comprises, and then do something about it. That is why the new administration at Oxfordshire County Council puts tackling the climate emergency at the heart of our policies, and fully supports the aims of the CEE Bill in seeking to address the link between global consumption, our environment, and the subsequent effect on global health.”