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The latest climate change news from WWF

Arctic sea ice maximum breaks a new record, being the lowest recorded since satellite record keeping began in 1979. © Shutterstock

GLAND, Switzerland, March 22, 2017 - Arctic sea ice set its lowest spring extent in 38 years of satellite measurement. The record has been confirmed by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre. The ice maximum (when sea ice in the Arctic hits its greatest extent in spring) has been declining at a rate of about 3 per cent per decade since 1979 when satellite record keeping began.
 

"This is extremely worrisome for animals at the margins of the ice extent, such as the European Arctic," says Martin Sommerkorn, Head of Conservation for WWF's Arctic Programme. "In the case of polar bears, they need the ice to reach denning areas, or to get out onto the ice to feed after a long fasting period in the den. Several species of seal also rely on the ice to give birth in the spring."
 

A recent study suggested that 50-70% of the Arctic ice disappearance is caused by people. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's Climate & Energy Practice, says this means people can, and must, take action to limit the disappearance of the ice.
 

"This is not just about the effects on Arctic animals; it is also about the people who rely on those animals," says Pulgar-Vidal. "We're trying to cool a larger, hotter part of the world with a smaller and smaller air conditioner. If the sea ice goes, it will impact the lives and livelihoods of billions of people and cause untold damage to sensitive ecosystems. Momentum for addressing this crisis is increasing, but as nature persistently reminds us, we must pick up the pace. We must leverage the Paris Agreement on climate change through increased scale and speed of implementation."

 

For further information, contact: Mandy Jean Woods   mwoods@wwf.org.za    +27723930027

Posted: March 22, 2017, 12:00 am
Bearded seal on ice in the Arctic © Wim van Passel / WWFArctic sea ice set its lowest spring extent in 38 years of satellite measurement. The record has been confirmed by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre. The ice maximum (when sea ice in the Arctic hits its greatest extent in spring) has been declining at a rate of about 3 per cent per decade.

"This is extremely worrisome for animals at the margins of the ice extent, such as the European Arctic," says Martin Sommerkorn, Head of Conservation for WWF's Arctic Programme. "In the case of polar bears, they need the ice to reach denning areas, or to get out onto the ice to feed after a long fasting period in the den. Several species of seal also rely on the ice to give birth in the spring."

A recent study suggested that 50-70% of the Arctic ice disappearance is caused by people. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's Climate & Energy Practice, says this means people can, and must, take action to limit the disappearance of the ice. 

"This is not just about the effects on Arctic animals; it is also about the people who rely on those animals," says Pulgar-Vidal. "We're trying to cool a larger, hotter part of the world with a smaller and smaller air conditioner. If the sea ice goes, it will impact the lives and livelihoods of billions of people and cause untold damage to sensitive ecosystems. Momentum for addressing this crisis is increasing, but as nature persistently reminds us, we must pick up the pace. We must leverage the Paris Agreement on climate change through increased scale and speed of implementation."
Posted: March 22, 2017, 12:00 am
Sea level rise is one of the climate impacts being experienced as global surface temperatures soar. © NPS Climate Change ResponseGLAND, Switzerland (21 March, 2017) – The State of the Global Climate report released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) yesterday provides additional evidence that extreme weather caused by rising surface temperatures is pushing the world's climate system into "unchartered territory".
 
The annual statement issued by WMO confirmed that 2016 was the hottest year on record – with global surface temperatures a remarkable 1.1° C above the pre-industrial period, which is 0.06° C above the previous record set in 2015. Importantly, new research not included in the report showed that extreme weather was continuing into 2017, breaking climate records everywhere – almost 12,000 records in the US in February alone.
 
Commenting on this, WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice leader Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, said:
 
"Global momentum for action on climate change is increasing, but as the World Meteorological Organization's latest State of the Global Climate report reminds us, we must increase the urgency with which we act if we are to avert the worst impacts of climate change.
 
"Already, we are seeing human-caused climate change destabilising food production, increasing water scarcity and accelerating instability among our most vulnerable communities and ecosystems. There is still time to change the course we are on, but only if we act now with greater ambition".
 
"The world leaders have already agreed a plan for climate change action. Now we must implement that plan to ensure global temperatures stay below the 1.5°C threshold set out in the Paris Agreement.
  
"Together, we must steer the transition toward a future powered by renewable energy and act to protect the biodiversity and ecosystems which underpin human survival, health and well-being to create a climate-resilient and more sustainable world for all."
 
For further information, contact: Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za  +27 72 393 0027
Posted: March 22, 2017, 12:00 am
Renewable energy help CO2 emissions stay flat for the third year in a row (2016) © Bruno Arnold WWFGLAND, Switzerland (17 March, 2016) – For the third year in a row, global CO2 emissions remained flat even as the global economy grew, according to the International Energy Agency.
 
Commenting on this, WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice leader Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, said: "The growth of clean, sustainable, renewable energy and the sharp decline in the demand for coal are prominent in the reasons for global emissions staying flat for the third year in a row.
 
"But let us be clear. This good news does not tell the whole story. If we do not step up our efforts to reduce emissions, warming is projected to surpass the 1.5°C threshold, the limit beyond which a number of climate impacts would become irreversible.
 
"Our efforts must include the phase of out all fossil fuels, not only coal, and the massive scaling up renewable energy in all end uses like electricity, transport, cooling and heat. If we don't, we risk losing the rich biodiversity of the planet which weakens nature's ability to provide the services on which human survival depends.
 
"The good news shows that transformational change is possible, and has already started. Now we need to accelerate it before it is too late."

For further information, contact:
Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za  +27 72 393 0027
 
Posted: March 17, 2017, 12:00 am
ETS deal - a first glimpse of hope for the EU carbon market? © PixabayResponding to today's deal reached by the EU Environment Council on the EU Emissions Trading System reform proposal, Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate and Energy, WWF European Policy Office said:

"EU environment ministers today acknowledged the need for tighter measures in the European carbon market: the cancellation of unused allowances from the Market Stability Reserve is a small step in the right direction. However, overall, the agreed measures are too weak to secure meaningful carbon pollution pricing in Europe.
 
For example, ministers agreed to continue flooding the market with free pollution permits to heavy industry, rather than auctioning them and using the revenues for climate action and climate finance.

The upcoming negotiations between the European Parliament and Member States must be used to correct these mistakes to make the EU carbon market fit for purpose."

Contacts:

Imke Luebbeke
Head of Unit, EU Climate and Energy Policy
WWF European Policy Office,
iluebbeke@wwf.eu
+32 2 743 88 18

Angelika Pullen
Communication Director
WWF European Policy Office
apullen@wwf.eu
+32 2 740 09 25
Posted: February 28, 2017, 12:00 am
Polar bear subpopulations, with Kane Basin and Baffin Bay highlighted. © WWF

Baffin Bay and Kane Basin populations are likely stable, for now


A newly released survey shows two polar bear subpopulations previously thought to be declining are likely stable. But the survey also finds that the bears are increasingly feeling the effects of shrinking sea ice habitat.
 
About the "Re-Assessment of the Baffin Bay and Kane Basin Polar Bear Subpopulations" survey:
  • WWF contributed funding for the recent survey, which was conducted from 2011-2013 by the Governments of Nunavut and Greenland.
  • These subpopulations are shared between Canada (Nunavut) and Greenland.
  • The Baffin Bay and Kane Basin subpopulations are now estimated to be higher than the last time the bears were surveyed in the 1990s.
  • Sea ice habitat for the Baffin Bay subpopulation has decreased dramatically. The length of the summer season has increased by 12 days/decade since 1979, and sea ice melt is occurring 3-4 weeks earlier in the 2000s than in the 1990s.
  • For Baffin Bay polar bears, this habitat loss has resulted in a shift in range northward, and bears are spending 20-30 days more on land now compared to the 1990s.
  • Though the subpopulations are currently stable, the report outlines many areas of concern for the Baffin Bay subpopulation related to declining sea ice due to climate change. Changes between the 1990s and 2010s surveys indicate:
    • decreases in body condition,
    • declines in cub production,
    • an increase in the frequency of long swimming events for female polar bears. 
Quotes
"It's definitely a positive sign to see population numbers looking good, but it's also worrying to see that climate change is beginning to have a noticeable effect, even on northerly populations. This reiterates the importance of monitoring to understand how polar bears are coping with the effects of climate change, while at the same time focusing our efforts on maintaining polar bear habitat within the Last Ice Area."
 
Melanie Lancaster, senior specialist, Arctic species, WWF Arctic Programme
 
Posted: February 23, 2017, 12:00 am
Emissions reduction © Global Warming Images / WWFThe European Parliament voted today on the reform of the EU Emission Trading System for the 2021-2030 period. MEPs took some positive steps to strengthen the carbon price signal. However they shied away from turning the EU ETS into a real climate protection instrument that helps the EU reduce carbon pollution in line with the Paris Agreement.

"MEPs missed their chance today to rescue the EU's climate credibility and live up to the Paris Agreement. This ETS reform is nowhere near delivering adequate emission reductions from Europe's largest carbon polluters. MEPs failed to square the circle of ensuring climate protection through clean industrial production in Europe," said Sam Van den plas, EU climate policy officer at WWF European Policy Office.

MEPs largely supported the earlier report from the Environment Committee and agreed to take initial steps to tackle the vast surplus of emission allowances by cancelling 800 million emission allowances from the ETS Market Stability Reserve. However, the linear reduction factor was reduced to 2.2% and therefore will not increase the annual pace of carbon emission reduction after 2020. The hotly debated establishment of an import inclusion scheme for industrial sectors with low trade intensity was rejected, allowing more free pollution permits for sectors not at risk of carbon leakage.

"The result of today's vote on the EU ETS reform will have to be improved by EU Environment Ministers later this month. Responsible EU policymakers must step up their game to implement the Paris Agreement and avoid the ever-rising social and economic impacts of not acting on climate change. If the EU ETS is a key tool to do so, it needs to be made fit for purpose," concluded Imke Lübbeke, Head of EU Climate and Energy at WWF European Policy Office.

EU Environment Ministers will discuss the ETS reform proposal further to prepare and potentially agree their position during the Environment Council meeting on 28th February.

ENDS

Contacts:

Audrey Gueudet
Senior Communications and Media Officer
Climate & Energy
WWF European Policy Office
agueudet@wwf.eu
+32 494 032 027
Posted: February 15, 2017, 12:00 am
Saimaa ringed seal. © Juha Taskinen WWF-Finland

Volunteers working with WWF and Metsähallitus (Parks & Wildlife Finland) have spent the past few days on the ice of Lake Saimaa in Finland helping an endangered population of freshwater seals to survive. The Lake Saimaa ringed seals need snow to build the lairs where they give birth, but the past few years have not provided deep enough snow cover for those lairs. To compensate, volunteers working with WWF and Metsähallitus have built up snow banks the seals can use.

"There are only 360 of the seals left," said Liisa Rohweder, CEO of WWF Finland. "without this help, up to half of the pups could die. When we have made these mounds before, almost all of the pups born were in these artificial drifts."

The first snow banks built for seals were innovated and tested as a part of a research project funded by WWF Finland and carried out by scientists at the University of Eastern Finland.

The plight of the Lake Saimaa seals is a foretaste of what may happen in other parts of the Arctic. The last three years were the warmest on record, and Arctic sea ice continues to shrink in extent and volume, shrinking habitat for life that relies on the ice.

"We really appreciate the help of the volunteers," added Rohweder, "but we can only take these stop-gap measures for so long. At some point, we have to have a viable long-term plan. This includes taking quick action on climate change, and working out how we best conserve the spaces where ice-dependent populations can persist."


Learn more Donate


For more information contact:
Joonas Fritze
Communications Officer, WWF-Finland
+358 40 840 8500
joonas.fritze@wwf.fi 

Pictures and video
To be used only to promote this release.
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/xor6sbf3301k3og/AAACOahBQPVac9_k3iLyVkSBa?dl=0
 
About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with almost five million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

panda.org/arctic

Posted: January 26, 2017, 12:00 am
Polar bear © seafarer / Shutterstock.comToday, NASA and the U.S National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared 2016 as the hottest year on record globally.
 
Commenting on this, WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice leader Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said:
 
"2016 has been announced as the hottest year ever. If there was ever a time for urgent action on climate change, it is now. Even as global momentum for addressing this crisis is increasing, nature persistently reminds us that we have to pick up the pace. 
 
"Across the world, human-caused climate change is already destabilising food production, increasing water scarcity and accelerating instability among our most vulnerable communities. From the accelerating pace of glacial melt in both the Arctic and Antarctic to devastating cyclones, droughts and fires, nature is sounding the alarm. The drivers of last year's severe weather events show no sign of slowing and will continue to impact conditions into 2017.
 
"It is time to leverage the Paris Agreement and to increase ambition for clean energy in the coming years. We need to harness actions from the private sector, civil society and national and local governments to make our collective response stronger and more ambitious. We need to be in this for the long-haul so long term plans and strategies are essential for transitioning to the economy of the future – one powered by clean, renewable sources."

Contact:
 
Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za  / +27 72 393 0027
 

How many more #climate records have to be broken before we take action? 2016 #HottestYearEver: https://t.co/PK9hsrPTTY pic.twitter.com/0E2mNZdriU

— WWF EU (@WWFEU) 18 January 2017
Posted: January 18, 2017, 12:00 am
2016 is the hottest year on record. © WWFGLAND, Switzerland (18 January, 2017) – Today, NASA and the U.S National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared 2016 as the hottest year on record globally.
 
Commenting on this, WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice leader Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said:
 
"2016 has been announced as the hottest year ever. If there was ever a time for urgent action on climate change, it is now. Even as global momentum for addressing this crisis is increasing, nature persistently reminds us that we have to pick up the pace. 
 
"Across the world, human-caused climate change is already destabilising food production, increasing water scarcity and accelerating instability among our most vulnerable communities. From the accelerating pace of glacial melt in both the Arctic and Antarctic to devastating cyclones, droughts and fires, nature is sounding the alarm. The drivers of last year's severe weather events show no sign of slowing and will continue to impact conditions into 2017.
 
"It is time to leverage the Paris Agreement and to increase ambition for clean energy in the coming years. We need to harness actions from the private sector, civil society and national and local governments to make our collective response stronger and more ambitious. We need to be in this for the long-haul so long term plans and strategies are essential for transitioning to the economy of the future – one powered by clean, renewable sources."
 
For further information,  contact:
Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za  / +27 72 393 0027
Posted: January 18, 2017, 12:00 am
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