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The latest climate change news from WWF

Anomalous weather in the Arctic, 23 February 2018 © University of Maine Climate Change InstituteAs much of Europe and Russia freezes, forecasters predict North Pole temperatures could rise above 0°C this week, shattering previous records. The North Pole and parts of Greenland are expected to be almost 30°C warmer than their historical average temperatures. Parts of Germany, New Mexico and the UK are forecasted to be colder than the North Pole this weekend.

The extent of Arctic sea ice coverage is normally largest in March due to winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere. As we approach this year's maximum amount, sea ice coverage is at a record low, and may break the previous record set in 2017, which was the third straight year of record-breaking lows. As of February 22, Arctic sea ice extent was 1.39 km2 smaller than average - an area more than twice the size of France.

By 2040, only a thin band of ice is projected to remain in the Arctic Ocean during summer, along the northern coasts of Greenland and Canada - a region known as the Last Ice Area.

WWF is calling for urgent action to protect the planet from the effects of climate change ahead of Earth Hour 2018.


Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Leader of WWF's Climate and Energy work said:
"The dramatic changes we're seeing in the Arctic are not just a local problem - they're a global problem. The rapid warming and ice loss in the Arctic means rising sea levels, changes in climate and precipitation patterns, a jump in warming and severe weather events all around the world. It's a problem that demands stronger, more urgent, and more ambitious action both globally and domestically."
 

Rod Downie, Head of polar programmes at WWF-UK said:
"The Arctic is in meltdown, and wild and weird weather is happening in front of our eyes. We need to take responsibility as evidence shows us that sea ice is in severe decline due to our changing climate. We all have a role to play in cutting carbon emissions and ramping up efforts to secure a sustainable future for Arctic wildlife and people."

-30-

For more information please contact:
Leanne Clare, Sr. Manager Communications, WWF Arctic Programme
lclare@wwfcanada.org
 
Posted: February 24, 2018, 12:00 am
Putting sustainability at the core of the EU budget © Shutterstock/ArkadyAs EU Heads of State and Government prepare to meet in Brussels today to discuss the political priorities of the EU's next budget, WWF calls for a clear commitment to integrating long-term sustainability across all budget lines.

"The next budget will be a litmus test of the EU's willingness to deliver on its international commitments on climate, environment, biodiversity and sustainable development," said Andrea Kohl, acting Director of the WWF European Policy Office.

"In order to achieve these, a re-balancing of environmental, social and economic aspects is needed, with sustainability mainstreamed into all relevant programmes and instruments. This is why we are calling for a mandatory spending target of 50% for climate and nature."

WWF criticises the favouring of economic aspects over social and environmental matters in the current EU budget, combined with a lack of policy coherence across different sectors. Instead it calls for all programmes and funding instruments of the new budget to be brought in line with international commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on climate, and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The organisation also pushes for a complete phase-out of environmentally harmful subsidies, and an increase funding for the Financial Instrument to the Environment (LIFE) – the only EU funding instrument for nature conservation - from 0.3% today to at least 1% of the total budget.

"How we spend taxpayers' money matters, and the EU budget must reflect European core values such as democracy, human rights and a high level environmental and climate protection," added Kohl. "This is what citizens care about, and this is what their leaders must deliver."

The debate by EU leaders follows just a day after the European Parliament's lead committee for the EU's future budget has voted in favour of increased spending for climate action, nature conservation and other environment measures.

ENDS
 
Notes to editors:

Key WWF asks:
  • Full alignment with international commitments on climate, biodiversity and sustainable development such as the Paris Agreement on Climate, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD);
  • Phase-out subsidies or support of actions that are harmful to the environment, biodiversity or natural resources as foreseen in the Roadmap for a resource efficient Europe;
  • Balance economic, social and environment asks through including a mandatory spending target of 50% for climate and environment, as well as incorporating ex-ante conditionalities and binding earmarking for climate, nature conservation and environment measures across all programmatic and funding instruments ,
  • Increase funding for the Financial Instrument to the Environment (LIFE) from 0.3% today to at least 1% of the total budget; the mid- term evaluation of the instrument showed that LIFE is efficient and provides value for money.
 
Recommendations for sector specific policies and instruments:
  • Reform the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) towards a fair, effective and efficient farming policy which has as its core the objective to facilitate the transition towards sustainable food and farming systems in Europe. At least 50% of CAP funds should be ring-fenced for dedicated financing of actions related to climate, environment and nature conservation;
  • The principles of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development must guide the use of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in the next MFF. This includes mainstreaming of climate and environment in EU external financing instruments, and support for the protection of biodiversity in developing countries;
  • Allocate at least the same amount of funding (€6.4 bn) to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and guarantee that all of it is adequately used by Member States. Financial aid should be conditional on sustainable management of the marine environment;
  • Mainstream environmental and climate objectives into financing instruments such as the European Cohesion Fund (CF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Infrastructure projects supported by EU funding must not undermine its climate and biodiversity goals;
  • Extend the existing Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) to include and provide financial support to a Trans-European Network for Green Infrastructure (TEN-G) ensuring connectivity and restoration of habitats and ecosystem services in priority areas of EU added value;
  • Facilitate a people-centred and just transition to a low carbon society e.g. through tailored financial support to communities and households, supporting regions depending e.g. on coal to overcome the challenge of transforming their economies;  but also to develop strategies for economic diversification towards sustainable economic activities.
Posted: February 23, 2018, 12:00 am
Białowieża Forest in Poland © WWF / Adam LawnikBrussels, Belgium - 20 February 2018

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has today issued an opinion in which he confirms that it was unlawful to increase logging in the Białowieża Forest. The final judgment of this case is expected in March.

Responding to the opinion, Dariusz Gatkowski, Biodiversity specialist at WWF-Poland, said:

"We welcome the opinion as it is in line with Polish law, international commitments and scientific knowledge. It confirms what WWF has been saying all along, that it was illegal for the Polish government to increase logging in Białowieża and place Europe's best preserved lowland forest under threat. We expect the final judgement in the case to be based on today's opinion."

Together with a coalition of NGOs, WWF today calls on Polish Minister Henryk Kowalczyk to immediately cancel documents surrounding the increase of timber production and to immediately start activities aimed at extending the national park.

Gatkowski added:

"We hope that Minister Kowalczyk will abide by the law and not give in to the pressure of those who under the guise of public security want to cut down trees for commercial purposes in the most valuable, natural fragments of the forest."

Poland's Białowieża Forest is one of Europe's last remaining primeval forests and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today's opinion follows a July 2017 ECJ decision requiring Poland to suspend logging in the forest, after the March 2016 decision by Poland's then-Minister of the Environment, Jan Szyszko, to allow increased logging.

"Today's opinion should be a wake-up call to governments across the EU who are failing to comply with the EU Nature directives which protect not only Bialowieza but also many other threatened natural places and species. The European Commission must get much tougher towards member states to clearly show that any breach of the directives will have serious consequences," said Sabien Leemans, Senior Biodiversity Policy Officer at the WWF European Policy Office.

ENDS
 
Notes to Editors:For further information:
Angelika Pullen | WWF European Policy Office | apullen@wwf.eu | +32 473 947 966
Posted: February 20, 2018, 12:00 am
WWF-Peru Lima team with the office's solar panels. © Lorena Montellanos / WWF
Lima, Peru - Although the vision of roofs covered with solar panels can seem far away in cities like Lima, change could be closer than we think. WWF's office in Lima is the first urban WWF office in Latin America to be powered in part by renewable energy.

"Renewable energy in Peru is no longer a dream, it is a reality," says Mariela Canepa, Policy Director of WWF-Peru. "Our goal is a world powered by 100% renewable energy by mid-century - we're on the way.

Other countries with WWF offices powered by renewables include Australia, Belgium (2), Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (3), Guyanas, India, Italy, Kenya, Laos, Nepal, Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Switzerland (2), United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Vietnam. New projects for 2018 include the WWF offices in Colombia, Bolivia and Madagascar. 

The solar panel system in Lima, with a generation capacity of 7kW, covers about 35% of the office's current consumption. By implementing energy saving practices, staff expect to reduce consumption and increase coverage to 70%.

Jean-Philippe Denruyter, project lead, said the initiative will help make WWF's own operations more efficient while supporting the organization's global goal of a shift to renewable energy sources. Already, the project is seeing benefits. "Just three days after the panels were installed and we began an internal campaign to change habits, we reached moments of close to 100% coverage with solar," said Denruyter. "Our global goal is that by 2020, 25% of the electricity of our offices around the world will come from solar." 

"WWF's solar projects are part of a comprehensive strategy to boost energy efficiency at every level. "As the climate warms and solar energy becomes more affordable, we know fossil fuels are on the way out", says Canepa. "But there is still a lot of resistance. The best way to propose alternatives is to show that they are accessible, that they work and that they are here... and we want to do it by example."
 

Context

  • In 30 years, renewable sources could meet global energy demand.
    Source: WWF Energy Report
  • Despite enormous potential, in Peru renewable energies provide less than 3% of energy.
    Source: Peru Ministry of Energy and Mines (MINEM)
  • At least 6% of the Peruvian population still has no access to electricity. 
    Source: World Bank
Posted: February 14, 2018, 12:00 am
Saimaa ringed seal on ice. © Mervi Kunnasranta / UEFWinters have become warmer in Finland due to climate change, which makes nesting more difficult for the extremely endangered Saimaa ringed seal. WWF Finland is helping by building snow banks on Lake Saimaa's ice for the seals to give birth.

The Saimaa ringed seal gives birth in a cave-like nest that it builds inside a snow bank on top of the lake's ice. This year, just like other recent years, there has not been enough snow for the seals to build their nests.
"If the seals have to give birth on bare ice, the pups have no shelter against predators, the cold and other disturbances," said Liisa Rohweder, CEO of WWF Finland "up to half of them could die."

WWF Finland is helping by piling up snow on Lake Saimaa's ice to form man-made snow banks for the seals to give birth. The operation is coordinated by Metsähallitus (Parks & Wildlife Finland) and a large group of volunteers take part in it. Last year the seals gave birth to 81 pups and 90 percent of them were born in man-made snow banks.

This year the situation is even more dire and the need for man-made snow banks is evident, as the winter has been extremely warm and the ice formed late on Lake Saimaa leaving less time for the snow to accumulate on top of it. Altogether around 280 snow banks were made.

"Although building snow banks is hard work, everyone involved from volunteers to authorities and WWF staff, is highly motivated as making these snow banks is a prime example of concrete and productive nature conservation," Rohweder added.

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.

 "It's great we can help an endangered species like this, but at some point we have to have a viable long-term plan. This includes taking quick action on climate change," said Rohweder.

The Saimaa ringed seal is one of the rarest seals in the world and can only be found in Lake Saimaa. WWF Finland has worked in many ways to protect the Saimaa ringed seal since 1979 and thanks to these efforts, the population previously facing extinction has been preserved and even increased. These days, the population is estimated to be around 380 individuals.

For more information contact:
Joonas Fritze
Communications Officer, WWF-Finland
+358 40 840 8500
joonas.fritze@wwf.fi
Posted: February 12, 2018, 12:00 am
Evanston skyline © Coldwell Banker Evanston /  Noel Seidenberg31 January 2018 - Brussels, Belgium
 
Companies and financial institutions should disclose climate change risks, and investors and regulators should be required to consider sustainability, a European Commission expert group on sustainable finance recommends in a ground-breaking report.
 
WWF welcomes the report's recommendations: climate disclosure is crucial to get a true picture of the possible consequences of an investment, and making investors and banks take sustainability into account means risks will have to be assessed and reduced. It will also help green opportunities be harnessed.
 
The report from the 'High-Level Expert Group' - which was set up by the Commission in 2016 to provide advice on making Europe's financial systems more sustainable - also says the EU should put in place green bond standards and green labels - this will ensure only truly sustainable sectors can qualify as 'green' investments.
 
The aim of the Expert Group's report is to provide input to the European Commission's Sustainable Finance Action Plan, expected on 7 March.
 
Pascal Canfin, Director of WWF France and member of the High-Level Expert Group commented:
 
"We are delighted to present this new report - the most ambitious on sustainable finance ever! Its recommendations integrate both climate risk and 'natural capital', and should make a real difference at European level. We hope that the European Commission will now include these key recommendations in its action plan. "
 
Andrea Kohl, CEO of WWF European Policy Office added:
 
"The EU can become a global leader on sustainable finance. To ensure it does, the European Commission must implement all the report's recommendations that make an integrated whole: from mandatory climate disclosure, to measures making sustainability central to the way investors and banks think and act."
 
Margaret Kuhlow, Lead of the WWF International Finance Practice said:
 
"If this report is fully implemented, the EU will set a new standard on green finance. We hope to see others follow suit rapidly, to help ensure that global financial flows increasingly support a more sustainable planet."
 
The most crucial recommendations in the report for WWF are:
  • EU mandatory climate reporting for financial institutions as from 2020. At the global level the IOSCO - the global standard setter for stock exchanges - should recommend climate reporting;
  • Integration of sustainability into investor "duties" - that is, their legal obligations towards their clients/members;
  • A requirement to ask all retail clients for their sustainability preferences when they look for a savings product;
  • European standards for green bonds, building on an EU green taxonomy  - a classification system of green sectors;
  • To assess and disclose the climate impact of indices used for financial products (FTSE 100, MSCI World, Stoxx Europe 600, etc).
Read the High-Level Expert Group report
 
More information:
The EU 'High-Level Expert Group' (HLEG) on sustainable finance was set up by the European Commission with a one-year mandate to make recommendations on how to set up a sustainable financial system. This final report represents the end of its mandate.
 
Contact:
Sebastien Godinot
Economist
WWF European Policy Office
sgodinot@wwf.eu
Tel: +32 2 740 09 20
 
Sarah Azau
Senior Communications Officer
WWF European Policy Office
sazau@wwf.eu
Tel: +32 473 573 137
Posted: January 31, 2018, 12:00 am
Manule Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global Climate &  Energy Practice received the prestigeous German Order of Merit from German Ambassador to Peru, Jorg Ranau.  © Federal Republic of Germany - Peru EmbassyBERLIN - Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice and former Minister of Environment for Peru - has been awarded the prestigious Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. The award is the highest recognition granted by Germany to individuals, and a symbol of recognition and gratitude for political, economic, social or intellectual achievements.  The award recognises Pulgar-Vidal's leadership in environmental management, policy and climate actions in Peru and around the world.
 
Jorg Ranau, Germany's ambassador to Peru, presented the award to Pulgar-Vidal at a special reception hed the German embassy in Peru. He praised Pulgar-Vidal for his decisive role in the design and implementation of important national policies in Peru, and for his role as President of COP 20, where he helped craft major international commitments through the global climate Paris Agreement. The accord was the culmination of more than 20 years of discussions in the UN and was agreed by 195 countries in Paris in December 2015.
 
Pulgar-Vidal said he was humbled to receive the award. 'It was unexpected honour. I have been involved in environmental issues for the greater part of my life. During this time, we have made some progress, but not enough. So the opportunity to be involved in key opportunities – like the Paris Agreement – and in organisations committed to making our a world a better place for people and nature to live in harmony together – as WWF is – is very pleasing to me.
 
'The award again reminded me that there are many watching us and marking our progress, helping us through funding and advocacy. So I intend to strive to increase efforts to combat the worst impacts of climate change, especially as 2018 is again a unique time for the world to step up and do more. More in terms of ambitious commitments to reduce emissions, more to increase the use of renewables, more to get out of coal, more to adapt to climate challenges, and more to get the global governance structures aligned to the Paris Agreement.

For further information, please contact: Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwfint.org  


 
Posted: January 26, 2018, 12:00 am
Installing solar panels, WWF European Policy Office. © WWF

The landmark Energy Report, published by WWF in 2011, estimated that the world could be powered 100% renewable by 2050. While that seemed a bit of a stretch in 2011, today the rise of renewables has given power to the findings of the report and the world is well on its way to being 100% renewable, and solar power is leading the way. 

WWF, as an organisation, recently decided to follow the recommendations of the report, and so was born the initiative to power WWF offices solely or primarily with renewable energy.  Jean-Philippe Denruyter, the project leader from WWF-EPO, said the initiative will contribute to making WWF's own operations more efficient while adding to the overall goal of a world powered by 100% renewable energy by mid-century.

A milestone was reached in January 2018 when the installation of a 5kW solar PV system on the room of WWF-Vietnam's Hue office, brought the number of offices with renewable energy as a primary or sole energy source to 20 in 17 countries. WWF is also using Smappee, a real-time energy monitor to track electricity consumption and solar production and make the information available on the cloud, allowing staff to develop energy efficiency strategies, adding further value to this initiative.

Countries with WWF offices powered by renewables include Australia, Belgium (2), Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (3), Guyanas, India, Italy, Kenya, Laos, Nepal, Netherlands, Pakistan, Switzerland (2), United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Vietnam. New projects for 2018 include the WWF offices in  Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Madagascar.

"By installing renewable energy systems in a diverse set of countries, sometimes under difficult circumstances, we hope to set an example to the rest of the world. We are also gathering experience in energy efficiency and solar PV that we can use to support clean energy policy, cities and other organisations," says Denruyter.




The new solar system in the Hue office will generate approximately 7085kWh/year, saving WWF around $1,536 USD in electricity costs in the first year alone. In about eight years, the system will have paid for itself.

"By going solar and encouraging staff to use energy more efficiently, WWF-Hue is practicing what we preach", says Ha Pham Thi Viet of WWF-Vietnam. "We're showing a commitment to sustainable energy, and hoping to inspire others to do their part."

For further information, contact

Communications
WWF International Climate & Energy Practice  - Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwfint.org

Project Coordinator
Jean-Philippe Denruyter
Manager, Applied Energy Solutions, WWF EPO
Phone: +32 496126 805 in Belgium; +593 983 042 361 in Ecuador

Additional assets:

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgGgeGzzQ88
Photo: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1DnsNV6-Qa7nfMAxBzktlxsrLrpZPIYsC
 

Posted: January 22, 2018, 12:00 am
Solar panel on the roof of a house © Shutterstock / Twonix Studio / WWF
Brussels, Belgium - 17 January 2018

The European Parliament today added a dose of ambition to the European Commission's energy efficiency proposal and supported a 2050 climate goal for the EU. However, it also voted for weak renewables targets and in favour of burning trees for energy.

"MEPs have shown that high ambition is both possible and crucial. Reducing energy use, and setting a goal of net zero emissions are key to our Paris Agreement commitments - and both became more likely today. The European Parliament must now hold firm to its positions in the upcoming negotiations with the EU Council," said Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF European Policy Office.

"Sadly, this ambition was not echoed at the renewables vote. The outcome there was a win for the fossil fuel and biomass industries, and a slap in the face for citizens, the climate and forests", she added.

Energy efficiency
The European Parliament voted to go beyond the European Commission's proposal on the Energy Efficiency Directive.  MEPs supported a minimum 35% binding EU energy efficiency target for 2030 - higher than the European Commission's proposed 30%, but lower than the 40% supported by WWF. They also improved the proposed energy savings rule, by allowing the possibility of counting transport energy use.

"Thankfully, MEPs have beefed up the European Commission's flimsy energy efficiency proposal - good news for consumers and the climate alike. Now, they must stand firm during the upcoming discussions with Member States, and continue to put energy efficiency first", commented Arianna Vitali, Senior Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office.

Renewables and bioenergy
MEPs voted for a 35% renewable energy target -  higher than the European Commission proposal of 27% - but with 10% 'flexibility', meaning the target could end up being 31.5%. Most damagingly, they ignored the warnings from 800 scientists, including IPCC lead authors and winners of the US medal of science and Nobel prize, and calls from NGOs and citizens, to stop subsidising the burning of tree trunks and stumps for energy.

"This shocking decision is likely to lead to more and more forests being burned in the name of fighting climate change. It flies in the face of science, and poses a serious threat to our climate goals. Investors should be aware that further investment in biomass plants is high risk, and their money is better spent on wind and solar," commented Alex Mason, Senior Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office.

Energy Union governance
MEPs have taken steps to bring the EU much more in line with the Paris Agreement. They voted for a 2050 goal of net zero carbon, and for Member State climate and energy plans to be based on the Paris goals.

"This sends investors and the rest of the world a message that the EU is taking the Paris Agreement seriously and wants to make the climate great again." commented Alex Mason, Senior Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office.

Contact:

Arianna Vitali
Senior Policy Officer (energy efficiency)
WWF European Policy Office
avitali@wwf.eu
Tel: + 32 486 176 378

Alex Mason
Senior Policy Officer (renewables, bioenergy, governance)
WWF European Policy Office
amason@wwf.eu
Tel: +32 494 762 763

Sarah Azau
Senior Communications Officer
WWF European Policy Office
sazau@wwf.eu
Tel: +32 473 573 137
 
Posted: January 17, 2018, 12:00 am
European Parliament © European Union, 2017Brussels, Belgium - 15 January

On 17 January, the European Parliament votes in plenary on three key pieces of EU climate and energy legislation for 2021 onwards. It will decide its position on the European Commission's proposals on renewables; energy efficiency; and governance - that is, the rules on energy and climate change planning and reporting.

Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF European Policy Office said:
"It's crunch time for MEPs. They have been fairly progressive on climate and energy issues so far - a vital counterweight to the dismal EU Council. On Wednesday MEPs can confirm that they, at least, take the Paris Agreement seriously by voting for ambitious renewables and efficiency targets for 2030, a net zero emissions target for 2050 and an end to the scandal of burning trees to tackle climate change."

Energy efficiency
MEPs in plenary must confirm the forward-looking position voted in the energy committee in November. This includes a 40% binding overall target for 2030, with binding national targets, as well as strong rules on annual energy savings.

Renewables and bioenergy
MEPs in plenary must support a 45% renewables target with national binding targets and no loopholes. They must above all tighten bioenergy sustainability criteria to exclude whole trees - and food crops - from renewable energy incentives, to avoid disastrous consequences for the global climate and forests.

Energy Union governance
MEPs in plenary must confirm the forward-looking position voted in the energy and environment committees in December.  This includes a target of the EU being carbon neutral by 2050 at the latest (i.e. zero net greenhouse gas emissions) and a requirement that Member States develop their 2030 plans alongside their long-term strategies, ensuring they are consistent.

More information:

What are the points to watch out for during the European Parliament vote?

Energy efficiency
Negotiations to table joint amendments for plenary between the two biggest European Parliament groups - S&D and EPP - collapsed last week . This means there is a big question mark over the vote on the energy efficiency directive.

The options on the table for the plenary vote include (amendments can be found here):

On the 2030 energy efficiency target:
  • 40% binding EU energy efficiency target  with national binding targets (ITRE text)
  • An at least  35% EU binding target with national energy efficiency target, without specifying whether these are binding or indicative (tabled by ALDE and Greens)
  • A 35% EU binding target with an adjustment mechanism that allow to modify the target to take into account industrial value added and with indicative national targets,  which can also be adjusted (tabled by EPP).
  • A 30% indicative target with national indicative targets (tabled by ECR).
On the annual energy savings obligations (Article 7):
  • Strong Art. 7 with transport energy included in the baseline to calculate the 1,5% and with actions to improve primary energy savings as the only ones allowed to fill the 25% exemptions (ITRE text)
  • Weak Art. 7 in which transport energy use is only partially included and exemptions (are increased from 25% to 30% (tabled by EPP).
Renewables and bioenergy
In November, MEPs on the energy committee supported a 35% EU target for 2030. They did not support binding national targets and gave Member States 10% 'flexibility' - meaning there's a risk that it could end up being only 31.5%. If the Paris Agreement is going to mean anything they should be voting for at least 45% renewables, together with binding national targets.

But even 45% won't mean much if MEPs don't close the massive, dangerous loopholes on bioenergy. Scientists agree that using whole tree trunks and stumps for energy (as opposed to wastes and residues) will typically increase emissions for decades or even centuries, but nothing in the current proposals will stop it happening. MEPs have to exclude those things from incentives - together with biofuels made from food crops - and put the focus of the Directive where it belongs: on wind and solar.

The other hot topic is the level of a new transport target: MEPs in the energy committee voted for a new 12% renewable target in the transport sector. While in theory this is a good idea, with no meaningful rules on biofuels the targets are likely to be met by unsustainable and polluting biomass rather than sustainable wind and solar.

Of the amendments that have been tabled by political groups and that will be voted on in plenary the ones to watch out for are:
  • A 45% renewable energy target with national binding targets (tabled by EFDD)
  • The proposal to cap certain food and feed-based biofuels by Member State at the level of production achieved in 2017 (S&D, ALDE, EPP)
  • The exclusion of stumps and roundwood (S&D, Greens) or the exclusion of stumps and stemwood (EFDD)
  • A requirement that biomass only be burned in highly efficient plant that do not use fossil fuels, i.e. no co-firing (S&D, Greens)
Energy Union governance
Earlier votes on governance were very encouraging - if close. MEPs on the Parliament's energy and environment committees voted in December in favour of a net zero EU greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050 at the latest. They also called for both the EU and Member States to develop climate plans for 2050 by 1 January 2019 rather than 2020, and to make sure their shorter-term 2030 plans were consistent with those long term strategies.

MEPs should resist any attempts to water down those provisions - for example by deleting the 2050 target or postponing the date by which the long term strategies need to be published. Key amendments to watch out for include:
  • New compromise amendments (supported by Greens, S&D, ALDE, EPP - and hence certain to be adopted) on the trajectory for renewable energy deployment between 2020 and 2030 (not linear, but a bit stricter than the Council's position).
  • Detailed criteria (e.g. on GDP) to be taken into account when assessing if Member States' contribution to the 2030 renewables target are sufficient (S&D)
  • An amendment (tabled by EPP) to postpone the date for delivery of long term strategies to 1 January 2020, reversing the vote in committee that very sensibly brought this forward to 1 January 2019, to facilitate consistency between the shorter term plans and the long term strategies
  • Amendments (also EPP) to remove the EU 2050 'net zero' GHG target and the template for long term strategies adopted in the Committee stage
What is the position of the EU Council on these files?

Energy efficiency
In June, Member States had agreed on a low, 30% energy savings targets for 2030, without clearly indicating whether this will be binding or indicative. They also undermined the rule that states countries should save 1.5% energy per year by decreasing this objective to 1%  between 2026 and 2030 and by adding additional loopholes.

Renewables and bioenergy
In December, Member States agreed on a 27% renewables target – less than business as usual, and rules on bioenergy that are largely meaningless and that leading scientists say pose a serious threat to forests and climate. It's now make or break in the Parliament - the last chance to stop the madness.

Energy Union governance
The Member States' position, also reached in December, was disappointing: They agreed a trajectory for renewable energy deployment that would postpone increased capacity to the second half of the 2020s and did not support a long-term climate goal.

Contact:
Sarah Azau
Senior Communications Officer
WWF European Policy Office
sazau@wwf.eu
+32 473 573 317
Posted: January 15, 2018, 12:00 am
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