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The latest climate change news from WWF

Wind turbines, Middelgrunden Wind Park, Copenhagen, Denmark © National Geographic Stock/Sarah Leen/WWFBrussels, Belgium - 18 April 2018

What's happening:
EU energy ministers are meeting informally in Sofia, Bulgaria on 19 April. On the agenda are the level of the 2030 renewable energy target, and the level and the nature (binding/indicative) of the energy efficiency target.  

Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF European Policy Office commented:
"Higher 2030 targets are essential to start bringing the EU in line with the Paris Agreement. The EU leaders have called for a long-term climate strategy to meet the Paris objectives. If Member States now commit to higher 2030 targets for renewables and energy efficiency, it will prove they mean business on climate action in the shorter term as well as the longer term.

"The Council must support 35% targets for both energy efficiency and renewables, in line with the European Parliament, at the very least. If this happens, the EU will have taken a small but significant step towards upholding its Paris commitment to keep temperature rise to 1.5°C, and patching up its climate leadership."

More information:
The renewable energy and energy efficiency directives, and their 2030 targets, are about to be finalised in trilogue discussions between the EU Council and Parliament. The original target levels - 27% renewables and 30% efficiency - were agreed by EU Heads of State before the more ambitious Paris Agreement on climate change was signed.

While the European Parliament supports 35% targets for both - the EU Council has stuck to the original levels. This means the Council is not in line with the EU's Paris Agreement climate commitments.

However, some Member States, such as Sweden and France, are now supporting higher targets (see graphic below). What's more, last month EU Heads of State and Government called for a long-term EU climate strategy in line with the Paris Agreement, to be produced by early 2019.

The meeting in Sofia is a chance for Member States to build upon this growing support for upholding Paris and increasing climate action by boosting the backbone of such action: renewables and energy efficiency. The formal Energy Council on 11 June will be another opportunity to raise ambition.
More information:

The next trilogue meetings are scheduled as follows:
Energy Efficiency Directive: 16 May and 30 May
Renewable Energy Directive: 17 May and 29 May

Member States' positions (April 2018) - Energy efficiency target for 2030



Download here

The picture maps Member States' positions on the 2030 energy efficiency target ahead of the Informal Energy Council in Sofia, according to WWF best understanding. The exact voting weight of each country can be found in the EU Council Voting Calculator.

On 26 June, the Energy Council adopted its General Approach on the Energy Efficiency Directive in which Member States supported a 30% energy efficiency target (see here) without specifying its nature (binding/indicative).

However already at that Council, seven Member States (France, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Sweden) submitted a statement calling for higher ambition in the course of negotiations (page 10 here).

France, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Sweden all support a binding energy efficiency target.

Sweden is now supporting a 35% energy efficiency target in line with Parliament's position (here) and France is also said to be able to support a target up to 35%. Portugal, Luxembourg and The Netherlands, without specifying a number, are recorded to support a higher target than what was agreed in the General Approach. Denmark and Germany have as official position 30% binding, but are unlikely to block higher ambition.

To our knowledge, the other EU Member States have not so far indicated that they will be able to move beyond the position agreed in the Council General Approach on the Energy Efficiency Directive on 26 June 2017. Also, it is worth recalling that on that occasion, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia voted against this weak position and that Bulgaria, Slovenia and the United Kingdom abstained (see here and corrigendum here).

WWF supports introducing an at least 40% energy savings target for 2030 to ensure benefits to European citizens are maximised and help the EU enact the Paris Agreement.

Member States' positions (April 2018) - Renewable energy target for 2030



Download here

The pictures maps Member States' positions on the 2030 renewable energy target ahead of the Informal Energy Council in Sofia, according to WWF's best understanding. The exact voting weight of each country can be found in the EU Council Voting Calculator.

On 18 December 2017, the Council agreed on a General Approach on the Renewable Energy Directive in which Member States supported an at least 27% EU binding renewable energy target.

From our understanding, the only Member States that have been vocal against revising the General Approach on this point are the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom.

Denmark, Luxembourg and The Netherlands are expected to  support a higher target than agreed in the General Approach, although they have not specified how much higher.  France and Germany clearly support a 30% target with Germany likely to support even higher ambition. Portugal and Sweden are supporting a 35% renewable energy target.

The European Commission has also now updated its modelling of the Impact Assessments underpinning the Clean Energy for all Europeans package to reflect the dramatic fall of renewable energy technology costs. This analysis show that higher ambition, with significant lower costs than what initially predicted, is within reach.

WWF supports a target of at least 45% renewable energy target for 2030. This will ensure maximum benefits to European citizens, and help the EU uphold the Paris Agreement.

For more information:

Arianna Vitali
Senior Policy Officer
WWF European Policy Office
avitali@wwf.eu
Tel: +32 2 743 88 16

Sarah Azau
Senior Communications Officer
WWF European Policy Office
sazau@wwf.eu
Tel: +32 473 57 31 37
Posted: April 18, 2018, 12:00 am
The International Maritime Organization headquarters in London. © Mark Lutes / WWF

LONDON, UK (13 April 2018) - In a landmark step forward for the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) today agreed to climate targets for the sector, as part of its first comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reduction strategy. The global maritime regulator also agreed to ban heavy fuel oil in the Arctic, a region on the frontline of the impacts of climate change, and to tackle the growing problem of ocean plastics.
 
Climate Targets
The agreement on climate targets comes after years of negotiations in the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee, and two years after the world lauded the approval of the Paris Agreement, which did not regulate shipping emissions.
 
The IMO agreement calls for a strategy for controlling greenhouse gas emissions from the global shipping sector, with a target of 50 per cent emissions reductions by 2050 from 2008, and efforts to achieve complete decarbonization of the sector. While it is short of the 70-100 per cent emission reductions that the Pacific islands and many other countries called for, the goal marks a promising step forward by the shipping sector to play its part in limiting warming to 1.5°C.
 
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global climate and energy programme, said: "This is very welcome news, a good first step and an important policy signal. Shipping is responsible for more than 2 per cent of global emissions, and this is growing. The agreement today is an opportunity to bend this curve to align with the Paris Agreement, but it needs to translate into urgent action - now."
 
Mark Lutes, WWF senior global climate policy advisor, said the decision sends a strong signal to the shipping industry and fuel suppliers that they need to scale up investments in new technologies and their rapid deployment, including alternative fuels and propulsion systems.
 
"The next five years are crucial, and action must start with bold decisions at the next IMO meeting later this year. They must agree on measures that can be implemented immediately, like upgrading efficiency standards for new ships, sourcing low and zero emission fuels, and stimulating a reduction in ship speeds, which translates directly to greater efficiency and low fuel use."
 
Heavy Fuel Oil
Another area of progress was the IMO's move towards a ban of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the Arctic. Given the severe risks a heavy fuel oil spill poses to polar environments, the IMO has already banned its use and carriage in the Antarctic. Member states committed to take into account the impacts of a ban on communities in the Arctic.
 
Andrew Dumbrille, WWF-Canada sustainable shipping specialist, said: "It's not a question of 'if' but rather 'when' a ban on HFO should be put in place. With the Arctic facing growing risks from oil spills and black carbon emissions from ships, the marine sector needs to quickly transition away from polluting fuels like HFO. WWF calls on member states to make every effort to adopt and rapidly implement a ban by 2021, without burdening communities with the costs."
          
Ocean Plastic
The IMO also agreed to take action on shipping's contribution to the increasingly severe issue of global plastic and microplastic pollution.

Dr. Simon Walmsley, WWF's Senior Advisor, Arctic Sustainable Development, said: "Although this is a global issue, significant amounts of plastic end up in the Arctic due to the Northerly converging currents. We are pleased that fishing vessels are included to address things like abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear. It is critical that the IMO is successful in ending shipping's contribution to this significant pollution source. Through this action plan on plastics the IMO is acknowledging the important role it plays in helping achieve global sustainable development goals."
 
---ends---
 
FOR EDITORS

  1. Global shipping and aviation emissions are not controlled by the Paris Agreement as they are not included in national targets. They are included in its emission and temperature objectives.
  2. If the global shipping sector were a country, it would be the world's 6th largest emitter, responsible for over 2 per cent of global emissions.
  3. At its next meeting on greenhouse gas emissions later this year, the IMO must agree on measures that can be implemented immediately, like upgrading efficiency standards for new ships and stimulating a reduction in ship speeds, which translates directly to greater efficiency and lower fuel use and emissions.
  4. HFO is one of the world's dirtiest fuels and produces higher levels of air and climate pollutants than other marine fuel.
  5. As part of the agreement by IMO members on an HFO ban, an impact assessment will be conducted to ensure a ban does not place an unnecessary burden on Arctic communities.

 
For further information and to request interviews, contact:
 
Mandy Jean Woods
WWF International Climate & Energy Practice mwoods@wwfint.org (based in Berlin)
 
Leanne Clare
WWF- Arctic Programme lclare@wwfcanada.org (based in Ottawa)

 
Posted: April 13, 2018, 12:00 am
Hanasaari B cogeneration coal plant in Helsinki.  © Matti MattilaThe Finnish government has just announced it will ban the use of coal in energy production by law, from 2029.

WWF has responded to this good news.

WWF-Finland CEO Liisa Rohweder said:
'The Finnish Government's decision to ban coal deserves a strong support. However, it is essential that the government ensures that energy from coal burning is replaced by the development of new technologies that allow for genuinely sustainable energy production and improved energy efficiency. The planned increased role of the Finnish forests as a source of material for energy production would result in the reduced capacity to serve as a carbon sink. In the worst case, this would correspond to the annual emissions of the entire transport sector compared to the situation where forest felling remained on the same level as currently. So a sustainable alternative to coal is vital to consider as well.'

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global climate and energy programme, said:
'The Powering Past Coal Alliance, of which Finland is a member, says that coal phase-out is needed by no later than 2030 in the OECD and EU28, and no later than by 2050 in the rest of the world if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. So this progressive action by Finland must be welcomed. And it must be a signal to other governments that they need to take bold climate actions as well. 2018 must be the year we step up our efforts to reduce emissions, not only with an eye to actions beyond 2020, but also on what we can do right now. Getting out of coal is a big and transformative shift and just the kind of action we need now.'
Posted: April 11, 2018, 12:00 am
The EU needs a net zero emissions target for 2050 latest © PixabayBrussels, Belgium - 9 April 2018

What's happening:
On 10-11 April EU Environment ministers are meeting informally in Sofia. On Wednesday 11th, they will discuss climate and energy issues: specifically, the Paris Agreement ​rulebook ​and the Talanoa Dialogue* (see agenda).

Why it matters:
While it's an 'informal' Environment Council, it will be crucial in setting up Member State positions on the Paris Agreement on climate change 'rulebook' and the Talanoa Dialogue* ahead of the formal Environment Council in June.

It also comes at a time of increased EU momentum on climate: it's the first relevant EU meeting since Heads of State and Government called for a long-term EU climate strategy in line with the Paris Agreement last month. It's a chance for ministers to build on that request, as well as to commit to developing their own long-term climate plans. Progressive Member States such as the Netherlands and France have now also said that the EU must increase its 2030 climate and energy targets and this is an opportunity for them to reinforce their support.

Comment from Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate and Energy, WWF European Policy Office:
"There is an exciting sense of growing momentum on climate action in Europe. This meeting is a chance for EU ministers to use their leaders' call for a long-term climate strategy as a springboard for increased domestic and European action. They must ensure a net zero emissions goal for 2050 at the latest is at the heart of the EU strategy and that our 2030 goals are revised upwards to reflect it. They should also rapidly get to work on their own ambitious long-term climate plans."

The formal EU Environment Council will take place on 25 June 2018.

What else is happening?
Also, although this is not officially on the agenda, the meeting is also an opportunity for EU Environment Ministers to address the controversial issue of planned development in Bulgaria's Pirin National Park. WWF is asking them to call on the Bulgarian host government to live up to its legal commitments under the EU Nature Directives and protect this Natura 2000 area and UNESCO World Heritage Site from illegal logging and construction. Following a series of demonstrations across Bulgaria and European capitals, campaigners will also be present at the Council building in the morning of 10 April.

*For an explanation of the rulebook and Talanoa Dialogue, please see below.

More information:
Which EU countries support a more ambitious EU 2050 climate target?
So far, only France and the Netherlands openly support more ambition at EU level than the current 80-95% emissions reduction target. Others like Portugal, Germany, Sweden, Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark and Slovenia are also in favour of an ambitious long-term strategy.
To date, only three EU Member States have submitted their own long-term emissions strategies to the UNFCCC portal: the Czech Republic, France and Germany.

What is the Paris Agreement 'rulebook'?
The aim of the 'rulebook' is to standardise the way countries account for and report on their climate pledges. The rulebook needs to be done by the end of 2018, according to the Paris Agreement's timeline.

What is the Talanoa Dialogue?
The Talanoa Dialogue (formerly the 'Facilitative Dialogue') came out of the Paris Agreement.  It was primarily set-up to begin a 'stocktake' of efforts to reduce emissions. The Fiji COP Presidency added the extra element of bringing a range of stakeholders into a discussion as to what must be done. It tries to answer three questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there? In 2018, the EU is expected to hold two regional Talanoa Dialogue meetings with stakeholders, alongside the UN Talanoa Dialogues (June 14th and October). Other EU institutions will be holding meetings in the Talanoa style including the European Economic and Social Committee on April 23rd.

WWF believes the Dialogue can play a critical role in helping increase climate ambition.

The Talanoa Dialogue is an opportunity for participants to show their progress so far, highlight ways to reduce emissions further, and encourage national governments to add more ambition to their climate plans ('Nationally Determined Contributions' or NDCs).

WWF's expectations for the Talanoa Dialogue and COP24 outcomes
BEFORE COP24:  The preparatory phase of the Talanoa Dialogue should engage a wide range of parties and stakeholders, thereby raising awareness of the need for accelerated action and greater ambition, so that decision makers at COP24 are sufficiently motivated to produce concrete outcomes from the dialogue.

AT the end of COP24, three COP decision paragraphs are needed:

The first should recognise the emission gaps and the necessity and urgency to address them (this could also be covered in reports and summaries of the dialogue);

The second should highlight that there are opportunities to leverage untapped mitigation potential, as shown by the solutions presented during the Talanoa Dialogue sessions and summarized in the synthesis report, with direct links to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The third should state that Parties resolve to revisit their NDCs through appropriate domestic processes by 2020 with a view to leveraging those opportunities, increasing climate ambition and contributing to closing the ambition gap and provide needed support for this. This paragraph should further state the Parties also resolve to ensure that those sectors that are not typically covered by NDCs, such as international aviation and shipping, are taking steps to deliver their fair share of emissions reductions to meet the Paris Agreement's temperature goals.

AFTER COP24 and by 2020, national governments should undertake domestic processes of revision with non-party stakeholder input in order to leverage domestic opportunities for increasing NDC ambition and to put the world on track to stay below 1.5°C and concurrently build resilience to climate impacts.

AFTER 2020, the Talanoa Dialogue informs, inspires and sets a high bar for subsequent Global Stocktakes, as part of the ongoing 5-year ambition cycle.

What is happening in Pirin National Park?
The park, which is a Natura 2000 area and UNESCO World Heritage Site, is threatened by infrastructure developments. These have been authorised by the Bulgarian government despite the fact that it's in violation of European environmental legislation.

Late last year, the Bulgarian government adopted amendments to the current management plan of Pirin National Park. These would allow construction to take place on up to 48% of the territory of the park. Crucially, this decision was taken without carrying out a Strategic Environmental Assessment, as required by EU law.

The planned building work will cause irreversible damage to the park's outstanding universal value. For three months now, thousands of citizens across Bulgaria and Europe have been protesting in the streets against the governmental decision. On 10 April, groups of campaigners will stage a further action in Sofia as ministers arrive for the informal Environment Council.

More information on Pirin: "Slippery Slopes: Protecting Pirin from Unsustainable Ski Expansion and Logging

Contact details:

On Paris Agreement, climate and energy issues

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

Sarah Azau
Senior Communications Officer
WWF European Policy Office
sazau@wwf.eu
+32 473 573 137

On Pirin National Park

Liesbeth Van den Bossche
EU Campaigner
WWF European Policy Office,
lvandenbossche@wwf.eu
+32 4 77 81 10 20
 
Posted: April 9, 2018, 12:00 am
Amazon River, Colombia. © Camilo Diaz / WWFYesterday, in a historic ruling, Colombia's Supreme Court recognized the Colombian Amazon as a subject with rights and ordered the government to develop urgent actions, within the next four months, to protect it and ensure its conservation and sustainable management, including strict measures to reduce deforestation. 

The decision is the result of a lawsuit brought forward by 25 children and young adults from different regions of the country, with support from Dejusticia, in January 2018 explaining how future generations will be the ones to face the worst effects of climate change and demanding that the government must halt deforestation completely and guarantee their involvement in the development of a plan to achieve this objective.

In addition to setting a legal precedent, the lawsuit and ruling demonstrate the important role people and institutions like courts can play in furthering action on climate change and biodiversity loss.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global climate and energy programme, said: 
​"The Colombian Supreme Court's decision to recognize the Colombian Amazon as a subject with rights is a landmark step forward - for forests, climate action and people. For too long, we have taken from nature, continually and carelessly, and now the time has come to say enough! By protecting the rights of the Colombian Amazon to be free from deforestation, the court ruling not only protects the incredible biodiversity it contains and the communities that depend on it, but also safeguards one of our planet's best defences against climate change. This is a promising first - and 'right' - step toward creating a resilient, climate-safe future for people and nature."

Mary Lou Higgins, Director, WWF-Colombia, stated:
"WWF has been working for more than a decade on identifying the main climate related risks for the Amazon biome, as well as designing and implementing "nature-based solutions" to tackle them. For this reason, WWF celebrates the historic decision taken by the Colombian Supreme Court of Justice which reflects the crucial role non-state actors can play in the battle against deforestation and climate change. We are certain this decision will be key for ensuring the effective protection of the Amazon and catalyzing Colombia´s fulfillment of the Paris Agreement, as long as it is accompanied with a solid strategy which ensures effective participation of state and non-state actors in its implementation, for which we commit our full support."

 
Posted: April 6, 2018, 12:00 am
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission © European CommissionBrussels, Belgium - 5 April 2018

Today, a broad group comprised of business associations, civil society, think tanks and other organisations have urged the President of the European Commission, through a joint open letter, to make the future EU budget fully compatible with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development goals. On 2 May, the European Commission is due to publish its general proposal on the spending priorities of the next EU budget after 2020.

The letter* calls upon President Juncker to significantly increase the current 20% climate action share of the EU budget, to climate proof the entire budget by excluding fossil fuels and to ensure that EU funds add to Member States' efforts to achieve the 2030 and 2050 climate objectives.

Climate change is increasingly perceived by European leaders as a global threat that the EU budget, the so called Multiannual Financial Framework, should address. On 22 March at a Conference on Sustainable Finance, the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stressed that the EU must go further towards aligning financial flows with climate objectives. At the same event, French President Emmanuel Macron called for the next EU budget to earmark 40% of its spending for climate action and the ecological transition.

These declarations add to the growing momentum in favour of more funds for climate action. Earlier in March, 14 environment ministers advocated for a climate-friendly EU budget that rules out fossil fuel subsidies, and the European Parliament agreed to substantially raise the climate action spending target.

Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, said: "It is clear for us that the future EU budget must live up to the huge challenges posed by climate change. EU institutions cannot claim that they are doing everything they can to comply with the Paris Agreement whilst continuing to fund fossil fuels. At the same time, the EU budget has a huge untapped potential to catalyse the clean energy and mobility transition."

"A credible EU budget must address the common and long term challenges Europeans are faced with: climate change is one of them."

"Higher European climate and energy targets for 2030, particularly in less developed regions, will only be met if they are supported by a 40% climate action spending target and if all fossil fuel subsidies are phased out."

ENDS

Contacts: 
Sarah Azau, WWF European Policy Office, sazau@wwf.eu, Tel +32 473 573 137
Markus Trilling, CAN Europe Finance and Subsidies Policy Coordinator, markus@caneurope.org, Tel +32 484 056 636
Nicolas Derobert, CAN Europe Communications Coordinator, nicolas@caneurope.org, +32 483 62 18 88

Note to editors:
* The letter is accessible here. It has been signed by 31 organisations:
Association of European Renewable Energy Research Centres
Carbon Market Watch
CEE Bankwatch Network
Center for the Study of Democracy
Centre for Transport and Energy
Chance for Buildings
Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe
Climate Alliance
Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V. / Environmental Action Germany
Deutscher Naturschutzring (DNR) e.V.
DENEFF
E3G
Energy Cities
European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency in Buildings
European Alliance to Save Energy
European Association for Electromobility
European Environmental Citizens Organisation for Standardisation
European Heat Pump Association
European Insulation Manufacturers Association
European Partnership for Energy and the Environment
Fern
Forum Ökologisch-Soziale Marktwirtschaft
Glopolis 
Green Budget Europe
Kyoto Club
Polska Zielona Sieć / Polish Green Network
Romanian Association for Promoting Energy Efficiency in Buildings 
Slovak Association of Photovoltaic Industry and Renewable Energy Sources (SAPI)
Transport & Environment
WWF European Policy Office
Zaļā brīvība / Green Liberty Latvia

Quotes from signatories:
Pascal Eveillard, Saint-Gobain, President of Eurima:
"The building sector is a perfect example to highlight the key leveraging synergies between public and private financial streams: with nearly three quarters of the estimated 2030 investment gap accounted for energy efficiency in buildings, sustaining and increasing the climate spending in the EU Budget will be essential to meet the efforts. Coupled with high long-term ambition and robust legislation, EU climate spending will provide the essential engine for the delivery of socio-economic benefits directly to EU citizens". 

Jan te Bos, Director General of Eurima:
"When 76% of our efforts towards COP21 must come from energy efficiency, tapping into the savings in the buildings sector is key. This is cost-effectively bridging the gap between reality and the COP21. So, if climate action is mainstream policymaking, financing must follow." 

Claire Roumet, Director of Energy Cities:
"Energy and climate priorities are not stand-alone targets of the post 2020 EU. Social inclusion – especially in times of high migration flows – agricultural policy, research and innovation are other key building blocks on the road to a sustainable European economy. They need to be jointly mobilised, as part of a budget better aligned with sustainable development goals and climate objectives." 

Jonathan Gaventa, Director of E3G (Third Generation Environmentalism):
"A climate-friendly budget matters for Europe. Climate spending means protecting European citizens from extreme weather impacts, supporting communities to transition to a low carbon economy, catalysing world-leading innovation and kick-starting private investment into clean energy projects. To meet the EU's climate targets and to respond to the impacts of a changing climate, the next EU budget should increase climate spending and end all subsidies to fossil fuels."
Posted: April 5, 2018, 12:00 am
WWF - Help save the polar bear © naturepl.com / Steven Kazlowski / WWF-CanonThe National Snow and Ice Data Centre announced today that the extent of the winter sea ice in the Arctic this year is the second lowest ever recorded.

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet resulting in rapid, irreversible change for the species who live there. In the next few weeks, the polar bears of Svalbard, Norway will emerge from their dens with their cubs. As part of the Barents Sea region, these bears are experiencing the fastest loss of sea ice recorded throughout the Arctic.

Polar bears are intelligent and adaptable, but Svalbard may be warming faster than they can adjust. This April, scientists at the Norwegian Polar Institute will head out on the ice to check on the bears' health and the impacts a warming climate are having on their survival.

Learn more about the impacts of climate change on the polar bears of Svalbard.

Quote from Melanie Lancaster, WWF Arctic Programme's Senior Specialist, Arctic species:
"Polar bears are found only in the Arctic and have spent tens of thousands of years adapting to their icy home.  Loss of sea ice is the biggest threat to their survival," says Melanie Lancaster. "Lower winter sea ice due to climate change is a reminder to us all of the urgent need for action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

About WWF's Arctic Programme:
WWF's Arctic Programme coordinates WWF's work in the Arctic through offices in seven Arctic countries with experts in circumpolar issues like governance, climate change, shipping, oil and gas and polar bears.

For more information:
Leanne Clare, Sr. Manager Communications, lclare@wwfcanada.org +1 613-232-2535
Posted: March 23, 2018, 12:00 am
Brussels, where the March 2018 European Council took place © WWF EUBrussels, Belgium - 23 March 2018
 
Last night EU heads of state called on the European Commission "to present by the first quarter of 2019 a proposal for a Strategy for long-term EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction in accordance with the Paris Agreement, taking into account the national plans" in their Council conclusions.
 
The EU originally committed to producing a long-term emissions reduction strategy after signing the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
 
Reacting to this, Andrea Kohl, Director of WWF European Policy Office said:
 
"'It is encouraging that EU heads of state are finally showing leadership on climate action, over a year after ratifying the Paris Agreement. A plan for reaching net zero carbon emissions in the EU well before 2050 is needed - at the latest by early 2019 - to show industry, citizens and other countries the direction of travel, and to speed up the journey."
 
"I urge EU governments to show that same commitment to fighting climate change when it comes to the Clean Energy Package files, for which their positions are far less ambitious than what was agreed in Paris. Hopefully the upcoming trilogues will be a chance to bring the package more in line with the Paris Agreement by increasing the 2030 climate and energy targets."
 
More information:

The UN Paris Agreement on climate change was signed in December 2015. It states:
"All Parties should strive to formulate and communicate long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies, [...] taking into account their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances."
 
To date, only seven countries have submitted long-term strategies to the UNFCCC portal. Three of these are EU Member States: the Czech Republic, France and Germany.
 
In October 2017, EU Environment ministers included language on long-term strategies in their conclusions:
 
"HIGHLIGHTS the importance of long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies as a policy tool for developing reliable pathways and the long term policy changes needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement; and ENCOURAGES the development thereof; WELCOMES the initiative of the European Commission and Member States to prepare an in-depth analysis of the environmental, economic and social impacts of pathways that are coherent with the long-term temperature goals of the Paris Agreement so as to inform EU political debates with a view to formulate the EU strategy in accordance with paragraph 35 of Decision 1/CP21"
 
The European Council conclusions say: "The European Council invites the Commission to present by the first quarter of 2019 a proposal for a Strategy for long-term EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction in accordance with the Paris Agreement, taking into account the national plans."

Contact:
Sarah Azau
Senior Communications Officer
WWF European Policy Office
sazau@wwf.eu
Tel: +32 473 57 31 37
Posted: March 23, 2018, 12:00 am
Protesters at the Earth Hour 2018 switch-off will take place on Saturday 24 March at 8:30p.m. local time

Brussels, Belgium - 21 March 2018

On Saturday, WWF's Earth Hour is set to unite millions of people in 180 countries and territories worldwide in their commitment to the planet once again. As we face the interlinked challenges of climate change and plummeting biodiversity, the world's largest grassroots movement for the environment aims to mobilise individuals, businesses and governments to help build a healthy, sustainable planet for all.

In Europe, landmarks such as the Colosseum in Rome, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and London's Westminster Abbey will switch off their lights for Earth Hour. In Brussels, the EU institution buildings will do the same and European Commissioners and MEPs have been showing their support for Earth Hour on social media.

Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International said:
"Biodiversity and nature underpin our lives, our economies, our health, our well-being, our happiness. It is the foundation of our living planet. Today, as we push the planet and its natural systems to the edge, Earth Hour is our chance to use our power, as individuals and as a collective, to demand and take action to protect this web of life in return for all it gives us".

Andrea Kohl, Director of WWF European Policy Office said:
"Climate change is ravaging our natural world and is a key driver of biodiversity loss. That's why we are asking Europe's decision-makers to show their support for climate action for this year's Earth Hour. The EU must uphold the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global temperature rise to 1.5°C. For this it needs to end the use of fossil fuels rapidly, starting with coal by 2030, and publish a 2050 Roadmap to show how we can get to a net zero carbon economy".

In 2018, WWF and Earth Hour teams around the world will be using the movement to highlight the environmental issues most relevant in their country or region. In Colombia, people will call for the country to commit to zero deforestation by 2020. French Polynesia is expected to move to protect 5 million square kilometres of its seas to preserve ocean ecosystems. In Guatemala, citizens will raise their voice on the importance of freshwater conservation and in India, people will pledge to shift toward sustainable lifestyles.

Supporters can visit connect2earth.org to share what biodiversity and nature means to them in the places they live in and find out more about it. Created in partnership with the secretariat of the United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity, the platform aims to build mass awareness on the values of biodiversity and nature by kick-starting global conversations on issues such as climate action, healthy oceans and sustainable business. The project is supported by Germany's Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety with funding from the International Climate Initiative.

Notes to editors:For more information, please contact:

Sarah Azau
Senior Communications Officer
WWF European Policy Office
sazau@wwf.eu
+32 473 573 137

WWF International: news@wwfint.org; +65 9060 1957

About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 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.
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About Earth Hour
Earth Hour is WWF's global environmental movement. Born in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour has grown to become the world's largest grassroots movement for the environment, inspiring individuals, communities, businesses and organizations in more than 180 countries and territories to take tangible climate action for over a decade. The movement recognizes the role of individuals in changing climate change and harnesses the collective power of its millions of supporters to shine a light on climate action.

About the Convention on Biological Diversity
Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 196 Parties so far, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. For more information visit: www.cbd.int. For additional information, please contact: David Ainsworth on +1 514 287 7025 or at david.ainsworth@cbd.int; or Johan Hedlund on +1 514 287 6670 or at johan.hedlund@cbd.int.

About the International Climate Initiative (IKI)
Since 2008, the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) has been financing climate and biodiversity projects in developing and newly industrialising countries, as well as in countries in transition. In the early years of the programme, its financial resources came from the proceeds of auctioning allowances under the emissions trading scheme. To ensure financial continuity, further funds were made available through the Special Energy and Climate Fund. Both funding mechanisms are now part of the Federal Environment Ministry's regular budget. The IKI is a key element of Germany's climate financing and the funding commitments in the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Initiative places clear emphasis on climate change mitigation, adaptation to the impacts of climate change and the protection of biological diversity. These efforts provide various co-benefits, particularly the improvement of living conditions in partner countries.
https://www.international-climate-initiative.com/en/about-the-iki/iki-funding-instrument
Posted: March 21, 2018, 12:00 am
Snow leopard (Panthera uncia) © David Lawson / WWF-UKLONDON - Up to half of plant and animal species in the world's most naturally rich areas, such as the Amazon and the Galapagos, could face local extinction by the turn of the century due to climate change if carbon emissions continue to rise unchecked. Even if the Paris Climate Agreement 2°C target is met, these places could lose 25 per cent of their species according to a landmark new study by the University of East Anglia, the James Cook University, and WWF.

Published today in the journal Climatic Change and just ahead of Earth Hour, the world's largest grassroots movement for the environment, researchers examined the impact of climate change on nearly 80,000 plant and animal species in 35 of the world's most diverse and naturally wildlife-rich areas. It explores a number of different climate change futures – from a no-emissions-cuts case in which global mean temperatures rise by 4.5°C[1], to a  2°C rise, the upper limit for temperature in the Paris Agreement[2]. Each area was chosen for its uniqueness and the variety of plants and animals found there.

The report finds that the Miombo Woodlands, home to African wild dogs, south-west Australia and the Amazon-Guianas are projected to be some the most affected areas. If there was a 4.5°C global mean temperature rise, the climates in these areas are projected to become unsuitable for many of the plants and animals that currently live there meaning: 
  • Up to 90 per cent of amphibians, 86 per cent of birds and 80 per cent of mammals could potentially become locally extinct in the Miombo Woodlands, Southern Africa
  • The Amazon could lose 69 per cent of its plant species
  • In south-west Australia 89 per cent of amphibians could become locally extinct
  • 60 per cent of all species are at risk of localized extinction in Madagascar
  • The Fynbos in the Western Cape Region of South Africa, which is experiencing a drought that has led to water shortages in Cape Town, could face localised extinctions of a third of its species, many of which are unique to that region.
As well as this, increased average temperatures and more erratic rainfall could become be the "new normal" according to the report - with significantly less rainfall in the Mediterranean, Madagascar and the Cerrado-Pantanal in Argentina. Potential effects include[3];
  • Pressure on the water supplies of African elephants – who need to drink 150-300 litres of water a day
  • 96 per cent of the breeding grounds of Sundarbans tigers could become submerged by sea-level rise
  • Comparatively fewer male marine turtles due to temperature-induced sex assignment of eggs.
If species can move freely to new locations then the risk of local extinction decreases from around 25 per cent to 20 per cent with a 2°C global mean temperature rise.  If species cannot they may not be able to survive. Most plants, amphibians and reptiles, such as orchids, frogs and lizards cannot move quickly enough keep up with these climatic changes.

Lead researcher Prof Rachel Warren from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA said:
"Our research quantifies the benefits of limiting global warming to 2°C for species in 35 of the world's most wildlife-rich areas. We studied 80,000 species of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians and found that 50 per cent of species could be lost from these areas without climate policy. However, if global warming is limited to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, this could be reduced to 25 per cent. Limiting warming to within 1.5°C was not explored, but would be expected to protect even more wildlife." 
 
Overall the research shows that the best way to protect against species loss is to keep global temperature rise as low as possible. The Paris Agreement Pledges, made by coutnries, reduce the expected level of global warming from 4.5°C to around 3°C, which reduces the impacts, but we see even greater improvements at 2°C; and it is likely that limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C would protect more wildlife.

This is why on 24 March millions of people across the world will come together for Earth Hour, to show their commitment to protecting biodiversity and being a part of the conversations and solutions needed to build a healthy, sustainable future – and planet – for all. The global mobilization sparked by Earth Hour also sends a clear message to business and government that there is a global will to change this trajectory.

Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF-UK commented:
"Within our children's lifetime, places like the Amazon and Galapagos Islands could become unrecognisable, with half the species that live there wiped out by human-caused climate change. Around the world, beautiful iconic animals like Amur tigers or Javan rhinos are at risk of disappearing, as well as tens of thousands plants and smaller creatures that are the foundation of all life on earth. That is why this Earth Hour we are asking everyone to make a promise for the planet and make the everyday changes to protect our planet."

-Ends-

For further information, please contact
Alexander Stafford
+44 (0)1483 412332
07742 093510
astafford@wwf.org.uk
 
For questions about the Climatic Change paper, contact Rachel Warren, +44(0)1603 593912 r.warren@uea.ac.uk 
 
For questions about the full WWF report, contact Jeff Price, +44(0)1603 592561 jeff.price@uea.ac.uk
 
Case studies
 
What individual species will experience:
  • Orang-Utans have a solitary life-style which allows them to move to cope with reduced food availability due to changing climates. However, females are strictly bound to their territories, which will prevent them from moving, and can put them at risk as there is a general reduction in available forest habitat due to deforestation, climate change and other human pressures
  • Snow leopards already live under extreme conditions with very little margin for changes which makes them particularly sensitive to changes in climate. Their habitat will shrink by 20 per cent due to climate change and will put them into greater direct competition over food and territory with the common leopard, which will likely lead to a further decline in numbers.
  • Tigers live in highly fragmented landscapes and will be greatly impacted by further climate-induced habitat loss. For example, projected sea level rise will submerge 96 per cent of breeding habitat for the Sundarbans tigers, and Amur tigers are unlikely to persist to the next century if the size and quality of their habitat is reduced.
  • Polar bears are among the most sensitive to climate change because they depend on sea ice to live and eat. Younger polar bears that are not as practiced hunters are particularly affected by food shortages due to shrinking sea ice. Polar bears in some areas are already in decline - for example, the population in Hudson Bay has been already reduced by 22 per cent - and are predicted to sharply decline by the end of the 21st century due to climate change.
  • Marine Turtles are highly sensitive to climate warming. While adults have been known to move to avoid too warm waters, a changing climate will impact greatly on their offspring. Tortoises and turtles are among the species with temperature-dependent sex determination. Warmer temperatures will produce more females resulting in a dangerous sex bias. Also increased flooding will increase egg mortality and warmer sand will also produce smaller and weaker hatchlings.
 Notes to the editor 
  1. The research has been peer-reviewed and published 14 March 2018 in the academic journal Climatic Change.  The reference is The implications of the United Nations Paris Agreement on Climate Change for Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas by Warren, R.1, Price, J., VanDerWal, J., Cornelius, S., Sohl, H. 
  2. WWF has produced a summary report of the research titled 'Wildlife in a Warming World'
  3. The research published in Climatic Change was summarised from a 5-part report commissioned by WWF and led by Dr. Jeff Price.  This report includes a literature review on the effects of climate change on individual species led by Dr. Amy McDougall (formerly UEA).
  4. The models used in this research come from the Wallace Initiative (http://wallaceinitiative.org), a near decade long partnership between the Tyndall Centre at UEA (UK), eResearch at James Cook University (Australia), the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and World Wildlife Fund. 
  5. Earth Hour, organised by WWF, is the world's largest grassroots movement for the environment inspiring millions across the world to take action and make a promise to protect our brilliant planet, our home. Right now we're facing some of the biggest environmental threats ever seen, including staggering biodiversity loss. - We're seeing our oceans suffocated by plastic and over-consumption decimate our forests, the lungs of the earth. Earth Hour shows what we can achieve when we all come together. Last year in the UK over 9 million people took part, along with over 6,000 schools, 1,700 youth groups, 300 landmarks and thousands of businesses and organisations. Iconic landmarks including Big Ben and Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Blackpool Tower, The Kelpies, Brighton Pier, Cardiff Castle and many more joined the global switch off. Globally, from Samoa to Tahiti, a record 187 countries and territories took part in the world's biggest Earth Hour yet. The support for Earth Hour and WWF's work more broadly has influenced climate policy, facilitated climate-friendly laws, such as a ban on plastic in the Galapagos Islands and supported the world's first Earth Hour forest in Uganda.
  6.  Follow WWF-UK on Facebook, Earth Hour Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest 
  7. WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 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. Visit panda.org for latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @wwf
  8. The University of East Anglia (UEA) is a UK Top 15 university. Known for its world-leading research and outstanding student experience, it was awarded Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework. UEA is a leading member of Norwich Research Park, one of Europe's biggest concentrations of researchers in the fields of environment, health and plant science. www.uea.ac.uk 
  9. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research is an active and expanding partnership between the Universities of East Anglia (headquarters), Cambridge, Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Southampton, Sussex, and recently Fudan University in Shanghai. It conducts research on the interdisciplinary aspects of climate change and is committed to promote informed and effective dialogue across society about the options to manage our future climate. www.tyndall.ac.uk
 
[1] Relative to pre-industrial times
[2] Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change, was an agreement signed by 175 countries in 2016
[3] Based on the Climatic Change report, scientific literature and expert knowledge from WWF
Posted: March 14, 2018, 12:00 am
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