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The latest climate change news from WWF

Ranking of Member States' 2050 climate plans © WWF / FRANCFRANCOnly eleven EU Member States delivered a 2050 emissions reduction strategy by 2015 as required by EU law - and the strategies that were submitted vary hugely in quality. These are the findings of the EU LIFE-funded MaxiMiseR project from WWF's European Policy Office.

France's long-term strategy scored highest in the project's rankings, with a top score of 78%, followed by the UK with 71%. France's overall score was brought down by its low emissions reduction target of 75% by 2050. At the other end of the scale, Cyprus only scored 25%, partly because it only submitted a draft strategy.

"Strong decarbonisation strategies for 2050 and beyond are the backbone of EU climate action, so the fact that we are missing several key vertebrae is worrying", commented Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF European Policy Office.

"A good low emissions strategy should be in line with our Paris Agreement climate goals, enforceable, transparent and developed with business and civil society input. A few countries are getting it partly right, and some - for example Germany - have already produced updated plans which are a good deal stronger than the 2015 versions - but a lot more must be done to ensure others catch up!" she added.
"Clear guidance from the EU, good enforcement mechanisms and regular reviews would help Member States reduce emissions while ensuring the well being and prosperity of all European citizens."

Overall, countries which submitted strategies scored best on 'public transparency' - making data and documents publicly available. However, they scored poorly on:
- Including stakeholders in the preparation of strategies
- Having their strategies and/or long-term targets enshrined in law
- Giving enough detail of how the plan will be implemented.Ensuring their strategies would be monitored and reviewed with a view to increasing ambition and making them stronger.

Results were mixed on how well strategies were integrated into broader economic, social and environmental objectives and how far they focused on the whole economy and included areas like land use, land use change and forestry (known as 'LULUCF').  

Read the report
See the ranking infographic

Notes to the editor:

The MaxiMiseR project analysed the climate strategies EU countries handed in by the 2015 deadline. Since then, a few countries - such as Germany in 2016 - have produced updated versions of these plans. MaxiMiseR will also analyse and report on these updates.

More on the MaxiMiseR project:

Immediate action is crucial in tackling climate change, but so is long-term thinking. The most effective long-term plans are ambitious, credible, based on the latest science and developed in a transparent and open way. 

EU countries were asked to submit long-term 'low carbon development strategies' in 2015, and to report on progress in 2017. WWF's MaxiMiseR project is evaluating EU countries' plans and seeing what works, to try and improve them.

As part of this process, it has analysed Emissions Trading System auctioning revenues to see how they can best be used to fund decarbonisation. It also built a webtool so users can easily access ETS data and pull out and compare national figures.

The MaxiMiseR project is financed by the EU's LIFE programme and the MAVA Foundation.
Website: www.maximiser.eu
Twitter: @MaxiMiseREU

Contact:
Sarah Azau
Senior Communications Officer, MaxiMiseR project
WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 473 57 31 37
sazau@wwf.eu
 
Posted: April 6, 2017, 12:00 am
Clothes on a washline © Global Warming Images(Stockholm, SWEDEN) 4 April, 2017 - Global fashion retailer H&M has joined Climate Savers, WWF's climate leadership programme for business, becoming the first textile company to do so.
 
Climate Savers aims to transform businesses into leaders of the low-carbon economy.
 
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice said, 
"Acting on climate change is no longer just crucial for the environment; it is also crucial for businesses. Companies have a big contribution to make and are increasingly aware of the impact they have on the planet. That's why progressive companies – like H&M - are taking bold leadership on climate change, and we welcome them to the Climate Savers programme."
 
The Climate Savers/H&M agreement will initially run until the end of 2020. As a Climate Savers company, H&M will focus on reducing its climate footprint through emissions reductions in its entire value chain, and engage in various activities that aim to positively influence the fashion industry as well as policy makers.
 
WWF supported H&M to develop a new strategy to address climate change which included setting ambitious short and long term targets to address climate impacts through their entire value chain as part of a broader transformational partnership between H&M and WWF. Specifically, H&M has set a short-term 2020 reduction target for their operational impact, and a long-term goal to become climate positive throughout their entire value chain by 2040 at the latest. The long term target means that the company will reduce more greenhouse gas emissions than it its value chain emits.
 
Pierre Börjesson, Global Sustainability Business Expert at H&M said: "It has never been more important than now to act on climate change. This is why H&M has committed to becoming climate positive by 2040 throughout the entire value chain – all the way from raw material extraction to products' end of life. This means we will go beyond minimising the negative consequences of our business to create a positive impact on climate. It's about acting responsibly as a company in this world, and also a way for our business to stay prosperous in the long run. We hope we can inspire more businesses to join us in fighting climate change."
 
To become climate positive, H&M will focus on energy efficiency measures and renewable energy investments. To address the unavoidable emissions, H&M and WWF will look at measures to strengthen the planet's ability to recover and resist climate change, as well as supporting technological innovations to absorb greenhouse gases.
 
Notes for Editors:
Climate Savers commitments and H&M's climate targets in short:
  • Reduce scope 1 & 2 emissions with 85% by 2020 compared to 2014.
  • Reduce the average energy consumption per square meter and opening hours in H&M Group Stores by 25% in 2030, compared to 2016.
  • Scaling up its climate policy engagement activities – H&M will actively work to influence and improve climate policies globally and regionally.
  • Aligning the targets to for the Science Based Targets initiative, which means setting reduction targets fully in line with climate science. 
  • Achieve a climate neutral supply chain for tier 1 and tier 2 by 2030 – this means that H&M will support tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers to have a net zero effect on climate.
  • Achieve a climate positive value chain 2040 – this means that by 2040, H&M will have reduced more GHG emissions than its value chain is responsible for.
For further information, contact:
Mandy Jean Woods +27 72 393 0027 mwoods@wwf.org.za 
Posted: April 4, 2017, 12:00 am
Increased climate impacts - like flooding - affects millions of people every year.  © Lieut. Cmdr Mark Moran, NOAA Corps, NMAO - AOCGLAND, Switzerland (28 March, 2017) –The US government today announced a decision to roll back components of the existing strategy for meeting its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.
 
This action by the Trump Administration includes steps to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, a key component of the US' plan to deliver on its greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments.
 
In response, WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice Leader, Manuel-Pulgar Vidal, said: "Hampering the US' ability to deliver on its international climate commitments will impact the world's climate trajectory, but it will not define its outcome.
 
"Our ability to achieve the promise of the Paris Agreement does not rest on the actions of one government alone.  At COP22 held in Marrakech last year, French President Holland said the Paris Agreement is an 'irreversible' process. We agree.
 
"The speed and scale of meeting the climate challenge has always required global solutions from all parts of the international community. It is up to all of us to reaffirm our commitment for a clean energy future, and to deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement.
 
"Companies and cities are not waiting to act; neither should we. Delivering on the Paris Agreement means more jobs, fewer health problems and increased access to cheaper, cleaner electricity. We have no time to lose: momentum remains on our side and together, we are unstoppable."
 
Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund-US said: "The leading nations of the world have come together in recent years to face the threat of climate change and to create the millions of new jobs needed for a renewable energy economy. Leadership from the United States proved critical in this success. 
 
"Now over 3.3 million Americans are employed in building low-carbon vehicles, cutting energy waste and providing clean energy to communities here at home, more than all US jobs from fossil fuels combined.
 
"Rolling back US commitments to cut carbon pollution not only harms the futures of our children and grandchildren, it undercuts our ability to compete in the massive growth in demand for renewable energy around the world. As recent polling from Yale University shows, a majority of Americans in every part of the country supports these kinds of pollution cuts from dirty power plants."
 
"This decision is at odds with the sweeping actions already being taken by companies, states, cities and communities across America, who are creating a future powered by clean energy, and who must now pick up the mantle of US climate leadership without the support of our federal government.
 
"In a world made safer by agreements between countries, today's decision would repeal the current US plan to meet its commitment under the Paris Agreement without providing a replacement. 
 
"We strongly urge President Trump and his administration to develop a clear and effective plan to meet our international commitments and safeguard our economy. We urge them to protect the American people and our communities as required under the Clean Air Act."

For more information, contact Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za +27 72 393 0027
Posted: March 28, 2017, 12:00 am
WWF's Earth Hour in Sydney, Australia, ten years on.  © Quentin Jones / AustraliaSINGAPORE, 26 March 2017 - An unprecedented 187 countries and territories came together for WWF's Earth Hour on Saturday 25 March to take a stand for climate action. More than 3,000 landmarks switched off their lights and millions of individuals, businesses and organizations across seven continents stepped forward to change climate change. Online, #EarthHour and related terms generated over 1.1 billion impressions in 24 hours, trending in at least 30 countries worldwide.
 
This year's event marked the tenth anniversary of the Earth Hour movement, which started as a one-city event in Sydney in 2007, and comes at a time when the need for climate action is greater than ever. 2016 was the hottest year on record and ambitious action is needed by governments, companies and people, their biggest stakeholders, to meet the targets set in the landmark Paris Agreement that entered into force in November last year.
 
"Once again, the people have spoken through Earth Hour," said Sid Das, Executive Director, Earth Hour Global. "Whether you are in the Philippines, Peru or Portugal, climate change matters and the record participation in this year's Earth Hour is a powerful reminder that people, who are on the frontline of climate change, want to be a part of climate action."
 
Across the globe, Earth Hour is inspiring and mobilizing people to be a part of the climate action our planet urgently needs at a personal, community and national level.
 
In India, as the presidential residence Rashtrapati Bhavan and New Delhi's India Gate switched off their lights, thousands were encouraged to make the switch to renewable energy and LED lighting.
 
In Poland and Bulgaria, people have been uniting to raise their voice against laws and policies that threaten biodiversity and the ecosystems that provide clean air, water, food and stable climate, underpinning our wellbeing as well as that of the planet.  
 
"From the shrinking of Arctic ice to coral reef bleaching, there are clear indicators that we are pushing our planet to the edge - and it is together as a global community that we can turn it around. The grassroots must mobilize and join governments and companies toward stronger climate action - the time to act is now," added Das.
 
In his video statement for Earth Hour, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated the need for people to work together to build a sustainable, climate-resilient future.
 
This includes enhancing climate education among the young, such as in Bhutan and Guyana, where students are learning about climate and environmental issues in climate science centres and conservation lab sessions set up by WWF.
 
To mark the tenth anniversary of the movement, people also took to their social media timelines to express their solidarity with climate action, as skylines around the world participated in the global lights out event. From donating five posts on their Facebook page to changing their profile picture, thousands switched on their social power to raise their voice for a cause they believe in.

"Each light turned off or profile picture changed represents an individual who has made the switch from being a passive bystander to someone eager to be a part of the solution and that has been the energy that has made Earth Hour the world's largest grassroots movement for the environment today," said Das.
 
As the hour rolls to a close in the Pacific Ocean's Cook Islands, WWF and Earth Hour teams around the world will continue to empower individuals, communities, businesses and governments to be a part of climate action. Strengthened by the support shown this weekend, teams will renew the charge to tackle issues such as sustainable lifestyles in Singapore, India, Hong Kong and Indonesia, a transition toward renewables in South Africa, Hungary and Myanmar, and promoting stronger climate ambition and action in the UK, Spain and at the EU level.
 
Earth Hour 2017 by numbers (based on initial estimates on 26 March 2017, 8:30 a.m. GMT):
  • record participation by 187 countries and territories shining a light on climate action and issues such as renewable energy, sustainable lifestyles, protecting biodiversity and stronger climate policy. Seven countries have specifically focused their campaign on changing climate policy.
  • lights out at over 3,000 iconic landmarks including the Sydney Opera House (Sydney), Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament (London), the Tokyo Tower (Tokyo), the Empire State Building (New York), Singapore Flyer (Singapore), the Pyramids of Egypt (Cairo), Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (Abu Dhabi), Monumento a la Independencia (Mexico City) and the Eiffel Tower (Paris);
  • over 3.5 billion impressions of official campaign hashtags between January and March 2017 with one-third of the impressions being generated between 25 and 26 March alone;
  • over 300 celebrities and influencers worldwide also raised their voice for climate action including WWF Global Ambassadors Jared Leto and Andy Murray as well as Li Bingbing, Ellie Goulding, Claudia Bahamon, Amitabh Bachchan and Forest Whitaker.
Since 2007, WWF's Earth Hour has mobilized businesses, organizations, governments and hundreds of millions of individuals in over 7,000 cities to act for a sustainable future.
 
---ends---
 
Notes to Editors:
Images from Earth Hour events around the world can be found here and video footages are available here.
 
You can also find previous Earth Hour videos on the links indicated below: http://hive.panda.org/Share/xvl8v858j4yr7u805f5lbvkaf8e002v3

To know more about WWF's work on climate policy and action, please visit http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/climate_carbon_energy/
 
For more information, please contact:
Rucha Naware, WWF International: rnaware@wwfint.org; +32465751339
Julien Anseau, WWF International: janseau@wwfint.org; +6590601957
Posted: March 26, 2017, 12:00 am
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
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