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MONTREAL, Dec 18 (Reuters) – U.N. summit negotiators on Sunday moved closer to a new global agreement that could see 30 percent of the world’s land and seas protected by 2030, with hundreds of billions of dollars going toward conservation. wild places and species;

China, the chair of the COP15 conference in Montreal, released a proposed text Sunday morning that ministers welcomed with some reservations.

“There is another potential round of work to be done so that we can match resources and ambitions,” said Colombia’s Environment Minister Susana Mohamed. “But I’m very optimistic that because the main goals have been resolved and there’s no opposition to those goals at all, we’ve taken a very important step forward.”

Policymakers hope the ambitious deal can boost conservation in the same way that an international treaty signed in Paris in 2015 helped mobilize efforts to limit planet-warming carbon emissions.

The plan, based on negotiations over the past two weeks, sets a landmark financial target of $200 billion a year for environmental initiatives, although it asks less from rich countries than some developing nations wanted.

It provides support for protecting 30% of land and water by 2030, a benchmark known informally as 30 by 30, and proposes restoring 30% of degraded land.

“We were surprised that (the text) actually captures most of the things we want to go for,” one delegate from the European country told Reuters. Regarding the recovery, he noted that the text aims for a more ambitious target of 30% instead of 20%, which is “really good, ambitious and necessary”.

Businesses should also be asked to assess and disclose how they are affected and affected by nature loss, but the current document does not make such reporting mandatory.

EU Commissioner Virginius Sinkevičius told reporters that negotiators were “on the right track” to complete the deal, but he highlighted shortcomings in the number targets and raised concerns about increased funding for developed countries.

Ministers and government officials from around 200 countries must agree on 23 proposed targets by midnight on Monday (05:00 GMT on Tuesday).

THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS

While optimistic, environmental campaigners worry that the technical wording of the 30 by 30 target may not adequately address ocean conservation.

The target specifies the protection of at least 30% of land, inland waters and coastal and marine areas.

However, it is unclear whether that means 30% of land and 30% of individual oceans, said Brian O’Donnell, director of the nonprofit Campaign for Nature, adding that China needs to quickly clarify its intentions.

“The goal should be to separate land and sea to ensure that 30% goes to them respectively,” said Li Shuo, senior global policy adviser for Greenpeace East Asia.

MOBILIZATION OF MONEY

The bill calls for $200 billion annually from all sources, including the public and private sectors, for conservation initiatives, which is critical to the success of any deal.

Developing countries sought half of that amount, $100 billion a year, from rich countries to poorer countries. However, the text only mentions that by 2030, 20-30 billion dollars per year will come from developed countries.

“Probably, we will have to come to an agreement between 30-100 billion dollars,” Muhammad from Colombia told reporters.

The draft also states that the money can come from any country voluntarily, indicating the desire of developed countries for countries with large economies such as China to also invest.

Joining China and Arab countries would be a “huge step forward,” Sinkevičius said.

When asked whether China should be considered a developing country as still defined by the World Bank, he said: “I think we should not stick to the descriptions of 1992, but see the reality on the ground, and it is very different from 1992.”

One of the biggest points of contention among delegates was whether a new fund should be created for the money, improving the existing structure. Negotiators from developing countries walked out of the financing meeting in protest Wednesday morning. The draft deal does not mention creating a separate institution.

The text says harmful subsidies should be cut by at least $500 billion a year by the end of the decade, but does not specify whether they should be eliminated, phased out or reformed.

Other proposals include directing policymakers to “encourage and enable” businesses to monitor, assess and disclose how they impact and are being affected by biodiversity, but not making these processes mandatory.

Tony Goldner, who heads a group that works for companies to manage and disclose nature-related economic risks, said a number of countries and financial firms would move toward mandatory disclosure anyway.

“At the institutional level, the train has left the station anyway, as financial institutions increasingly realize that nature’s risk is sitting on their balance sheets.”

Finally, the risks of pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals would be at least halved, but the text does not address reducing their overall use.

“After all, this is one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss,” Sinkevičius said.

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Reporting by Gloria Dick and Isla Binney; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Paul Simao

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