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The latest climate change news from WWF

Youth climate strikers demand leaders take climate action urgently © Flickr Takvr(25 September 2020) – Today marks the first global day of climate action by youth climate activists in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The actions today will be virtual and in person as circumstances allow.

The global youth school strike movement, Fridays For Future, say, "we live in the midst of a pandemic, but climate change is just as much of a crisis as it was before. As society is starting to open up in many places in the world, global emissions and resource use is rapidly increasing, and we are running out of time. That's why we have called for a global day of action.
 
"It is vital that the climate crisis doesn't get forgotten in the shadow of the coronavirus but is regarded as the utmost priority. If we are to minimize the risks of triggering irreversible chain reactions beyond human control, we need to act now.  Fridays For Future will keep protesting as long as exploitation of nature is allowed to continue."
 
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF Global Lead for Climate & Energy says, "Millions of young people across the world are challenging us all to confront the realities of the climate crisis. They are speaking and we should listen. 

"We must support the youth in their efforts to raise awareness of the urgency to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in line with what science says is needed to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. Leaders must take this seriously, move quickly, and ensure our children have the secure future they are asking for." 
 
Kirtanya Lutchminarayan from South Africa says, "We are in a climate planetary emergency. We need business, government, civil society, and individual citizens to come on board and act for humanity's survival and a resilient future. We need stronger alliances and to replace overconsumption with regenerative ways of being."

Pius Mbogo from Tanzania says, ''I, and the rest of the billions of young people in the world, don't want to die or get sick because of human error indifference towards climate change. We have the solutions, let's act like this is an emergency and take climate action now.''

Oluwaseun Salami from Nigeria says, "The future we hope for is only a result of the today we strive for. Without urgent attention by our leaders to sharply reduce emissions, we face devastating consequences. We must secure tomorrow from today."  
 
Brynjar Bragi Einarsson from Iceland says, "We can easily see climate change just by looking at glaciers, which have become smaller and some even disappeared. An example is the glacier Ok. This shows us that climate change is real, and we need some big actions now before it's too late to act."

Damien Mouzoun from Rwanda says, "Nothing can be further to the truth that everything we owe Mother Nature shall be paid back for there won't be any shortcut to success."
 
Maria Papatheodorou from Fridays For Future – Greece says, "The basis of environment activism is that we want the climate crisis to be acknowledged and taken seriously by governments and people. As strong as our urge is to walk the streets once more, this time we will have to bring our message across from inside our homes. Because we stand by our beliefs: We treat every crisis like a crisis! Do you?"
 
David Munene from Kenya says, "Last night, I heard the toads and frogs that croak during the rainy season croak in anticipation for the rains just like they used to accurately predict the rains in the nineties. Sadly, this time they were wrong - it did not rain. Biodiversity knew the climate and now it doesn't."

Alija Madžović from Fridays For Future in Serbia says "To older generations I say you need to think about your actions, to understand that change is necessary, even if it means giving up our personal commodity and shifting our habits. This is the only way that we can all survive on this planet."

Leonarda Šmigmator from Fridays For Future in Croatia says, "The older generations should not turn their back to young activists speaking, they should listen carefully to what we have to say."

Festus Adedoyin from the UK says, "Scientific evidence underscores the demands of climate change protesters that we must sharply reduce global emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The responsibility for a climate-friendly world is on us all."

For further information contact Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwfint.org
Posted: September 25, 2020, 12:00 am
Map showing the 62 areas whose mayors have signed the declaration of mayors on a just transition to a future beyond coal (Sep 2020) © WWFMayors from Europe's coal regions affirmed their commitment to a sustainable future supported by the EU's Just Transition Fund at an event with EU Commission Deputy Director for regional policy Normunds Popens and Jerzy Buzek MEP today. 

62 mayors from coal regions in 11 European countries have now signed the 'Declaration of mayors on just transition', in which they commit to local level action on just transition, and welcome the EU Just Transition Fund, but stress that it must be used exclusively for sustainable economic activities and job creation. 

In the view of WWF and over 60 NGOs, the EU's Just Transition Fund, which is soon to enter trilogue negotiations between the EU institutions, must exclude all fossil fuels, including gas. This is also the position of the EU Commission, the EU Council, and the EU Committee of the Regions. Yet the European Parliament just voted in plenary in favour of gas being eligible for Just Transition funding. 

Mariusz Wołosz, Mayor of Bytom in Poland, which hosted the event, said:
"One coal mine is a source of income for around 10 thousand people. We want to make the transition away from coal to renewable energy and sustainable sectors, but we need the EU to support mining regions. That way we can guarantee sustainable jobs for the next generation." 

Marta Anczewska, from WWF Poland, which organises the Forum of Mayors as part of WWF's Regions Beyond Coal project, said:
Our recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and our Just Transition to clean energy, need to go hand in hand. This is especially true in Poland where hard coal mining is in deep crisis, due to the government ignoring economic reality. Now is the time to invest in economic diversification and reskilling, and regions need support and funds to do so. If we allow gas and fossil fuels to be supported by the Just Transition Fund, we'll be locking regions into old, unsustainable economic models. But if the EU bases its support on quitting fossil fuels, the Fund can open the door to a green and just future."

Today's third 'Forum of Mayors' event was organised by WWF and hosted by Bytom in Poland as part of the Regions Beyond Coal project, financed by the European Climate Initiative (EUKI).

More information on the project and the Forum of Mayors  

Contact:
Sarah Azau
Communications Manager
WWF European Policy Office
sazau@wwf.eu
Tel: +32 473 573 137
Posted: September 24, 2020, 12:00 am
Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the UN General Assembly via video. © Xinhuanet.com
(23 September 2020) - Chinese President Xi Jinping used the global platform of his address to the UN General Assembly yesterday to announce China's intention to step up climate action ahead of COP26. 
China has committed to scale up its NDC through more vigorous policies and measures. President Xi said China would peak emissions before 2030 (an improvement from the previous 'around' 2030), and to be carbon neutral before 2060 (a new target). This could be the boost needed to get global momentum on climate action.
Under the global climate Paris Agreement, countries are expected to submit enhanced national climate plans (or Nationally Determined Contributions - NDCs) to the UN in 2020. These NDCs should collectively be ambitious enough to keep global warming to 1.5℃. 
WWF-China Chief Programme Officer Mr. Fei ZHOU said: "China's targets of carbon emission peaking before 2030 and neutrality before 2060 echo the spirits and requirements of the Paris Agreement. The new aspiration announced by President Xi reflected China's unswerving support and decisive steps to enhance climate ambition. They demonstrate China's due responsibility as a major emitter contributing to advance global green growth and to protect our beautiful planet."
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF global lead for climate and energy welcomed the news saying it sent a strong political signal of intent to other countries. "This is potentially a game-changer. By announcing their bold intentions now, China, as the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gasses, is showing emerging leadership on climate change. China's move will put pressure on other big emitting countries to also take bold action. So far, few countries have submitted enhanced NDCs, and none of them are big emitters."
The affirmation of the role of the Paris Agreement in global climate action was also welcome. "In a time when multilateralism is being challenged, it was pleasing to see President Xi urge all countries [to] take decisive steps to honour their commitments. The climate crisis knows no boundaries so only collective action will ensure we avoid the worst consequences," he said.
For further information, contact Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwfint.org 
 
Posted: September 23, 2020, 12:00 am
The partnership with WWF sits within the VELUX Group's Sustainability Strategy 2030, which includes committing to set a science-based emissions reduction target through the Science Based Targets Initiative. © WWF and VELUXThe VELUX Group today announced its new commitment to become Lifetime Carbon Neutral by its 100th anniversary in 2041. This commitment will see the world's leading roof window manufacturer's historical carbon footprinti – 5.6 million tonnes of CO2 (scope 1 and 2ii) emitted since it was founded in 1941 – captured in forest conservation projects run by WWF. Looking to the future, the VELUX Group also commits to dramatically cut the carbon emissions of its company and value chain (scope 1, 2 and 3iii) in line with the Paris Agreement's most ambitious 1.5°C reduction pathway.

Lifetime Carbon Neutral is a pioneering new commitment initiated by the VELUX Group and developed together with WWF International to take responsibility for both past and future carbon emissions. This innovative commitment will capture VELUX historic carbon footprint and at the same time preserve invaluable natural forests and wildlife around the world for current and future generations.
 
David Briggs, CEO of the VELUX Group said: "The planet is facing a serious climate and nature crisis and this requires extraordinary action. According to our values as a company, we strive to do more than most, so that's why we have developed Lifetime Carbon Neutral. It's an innovative commitment involving a 20-year partnership with WWF International to capture the equivalent of our historical carbon emissions by 2041. We will also dramatically reduce our future CO2 emissions and ask our suppliers to do the same. Hopefully other companies will be inspired to become 'Lifetime Carbon Neutral' in order to create a sustainable future for all."
 
The VELUX Group will work with WWF to become Lifetime Carbon Neutral by investing in forest and biodiversity projects developed specifically for VELUX over the next 21 years. This will help halt habitat loss, deforestation and land degradation threatening the biodiversity of forest ecosystems around the world, while working with and benefiting local communities. The first two of these forest projects will take place in Uganda and Myanmar.
 
In Uganda, the focus will be on restoring degraded forests, growing new forests, and protecting the remaining natural forests through a broad range of measures. The project will also grow trees in woodlots, other agroforestry systems, and plantations outside protected areas to meet demand for various forest products and reduce pressure on natural forests. The project in Myanmar will work to conserve the unique biodiversity and forest landscape of Tanintharyi township of Myanmar, in close collaboration with and to the benefit of local communities. 
 
"With the impacts of the climate and nature crises becoming increasingly clear, ambition and action is urgently needed to build a more resilient and sustainable future for all. The VELUX Group's Lifetime Carbon Neutral commitment is an important step for others to follow, said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.
 
"Embracing a commitment aligned with a 1.5°C world while also protecting important forest landscapes and biodiversity -  and the crucial services they provide to communities and the economy - is in line with a climate responsible and nature positive future that will serve as the foundation for achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals. Together, we hope that other organisations will be inspired by the VELUX Lifetime Carbon Neutral commitment and raise the bar for corporate climate and nature action globally."
 
The partnership with WWF sits within the VELUX Group's Sustainability Strategy 2030, which includes committing to set a science-based emissions reduction target through the Science Based Targets Initiative. To transform its business, the VELUX Group will accelerate investments in energy efficiency at its production sites, shift to renewable energy and purchase 100% renewable electricity, as well as substantially change the way it specifies and purchases materials.
 
For more information on VELUX Lifetime Carbon Neutral and the forest conservation projects at the heart of the partnership with WWF, please visit velux.com/itsournature    
 
Background and Notes
i – No standard methodology exists today for how to calculate a historical carbon footprint. For example, valid emission factors and energy consumption data for long ago do often not exist. Therefore, the VELUX Group developed a method to calculate its lifetime carbon emissions. This method is based on the recognised Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard and applied to historical data. This unique methodology, including the underlying assumptions, are independently verified by the Carbon Trust and reviewed by experts at WWF.
ii – Definition of scopes 1 and 2. Scope 1 (direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, e.g. company facilities, company cars). Scope 2 (indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company).
iii – Definition of scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions that occur in a company's value chain (e.g. purchased goods and services, waste generation and transportation)
iv – The Science Based Targets initiative mobilises companies to set science-based targets and boost their competitive advantage in the transition to the low-carbon economy. It is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and one of the We Mean Business coalition commitments. The initiative defines and promotes best practice in science-based target setting, offers resources and guidance to reduce barriers to adoption, and independently assesses and approves companies' targets.

For more information please contact
The VELUX Group Global Media Relations team: kathrine.westermann@velux.com
WWF International Media Team: news@wwfint.org
    
About the VELUX Group
For almost 80 years, the VELUX Group has created better living environments for people around the world; making the most of daylight and fresh air through the roof. Our product programme includes roof windows and modular skylights, decorative blinds, sun screening products and roller shutters, as well as installation and smart home solutions. These products help to ensure a healthy and sustainable indoor climate, for work and learning, for play and pleasure. We work globally – with sales and manufacturing operations in more than 40 countries and around 11,500 employees worldwide. The VELUX Group is owned by VKR Holding A/S, a limited company wholly owned by non-profit, charitable foundations (THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS) and family. In 2019, VKR Holding had total revenue of EUR 2.9 billion and THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS donated EUR 178 million in charitable grants. For more, information, visit www.velux.com. Follow us on Twitter @VELUX
 
Posted: September 18, 2020, 12:00 am
Aerial view of low tide where Raviravi village meets the sea, Fiji. The streams that can be seen serve as a natural protection during high-tide, steering some of the incoming seawater away from the houses. Josateki Manatua has been living in the Raviravi village all his life and witnessed the progressing shoreline first hand. In his lifetime the ocean has advanced more than 30m towards their village, flooding the cemetery, killing trees and forcing people to re-locate inland. The kitchen of the closest house to the sea, standing on little poles, is now regularly (during high tide) flooded underneath. The community is deeply worried about their future. One of the steps they have undertaken to combat the effects of climate change is planting mangroves in the hope of slowing down the seas progress. © Tom Vierus / WWF-UKEuropean Commission President Von der Leyen today announced an increase to the 2030 climate target, to 55% emissions reductions. While this is a crucial step forward, it is still not enough to tackle the climate emergency - WWF is calling for a 2030 target of at least 65%. And there could be a  catch to the Commission's suggestion target, making it less ambitious than it appears.

It is unclear whether the final proposal turns the existing 'emissions' target  into a "net" emissions target - meaning carbon dioxide removals in the land use sector would count towards it. If it is the case, it would not only be at odds with the wording of its very own Climate Law, which does not refer to removals being part of the target, even worse, it would be a fudge of the EU's climate ambition.  

Ester Asin, director of WWF European Policy Office said:
"Increasing the out-of-date EU climate target is massively overdue. Yet the 55% figure is still out of touch with science, public opinion, and the climate reality many are already living. The Paris Agreement turns five this year: the EU must honour its spirit and the commitments it made in 2015 by adopting a 65% emissions reductions target - and a separate target for carbon dioxide removals."

WWF is calling for:
  • A 65% emissions reduction target for 2030.
  • A separate target for domestic net removals in the land sector, to be achieved through biodiversity-friendly restoration of forests and other natural ecosystems.
  • No extension of the EU Emissions Trading System to transport and buildings, which would undermine national climate efforts and risks exacerbating fuel poverty. 
  • Serious reform of the EU's bioenergy policies, which pose a serious and ongoing threat to global forests and climate.
Contact:

Imke Lübbeke
Head of Climate and Energy
iluebbeke@wwf.eu 

Alex Mason
Senior Policy Officer
amason@wwf.eu 
+ 32 494 762 763

Sarah Azau 
Media manager
sazau@wwf.eu 
+32 473 573 137
Posted: September 16, 2020, 12:00 am
Bytom in Poland was a coal mining area. the EU just transition fund can help Europe's regions move beyond fossil fuels to a climate neutral economy. © Bytom town councilMEPs rendered their 'climate emergency' declaration null and void in one fell swoop last night, voting in plenary to allow fossil gas to get money from the EU Just Transition fund. The fund was set up to help Europe's regions achieve a net zero carbon economy in a socially fair way.

Despite the fact that gas power is incompatible with the EU's climate neutrality target, and far less effective for job creation than renewable energy, MEPs from the Renew and EPP groups closed ranks to ensure the gas industry will be eligible for the fund.

Katie Treadwell, Energy Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office said:
"It's simple: MEPs just agreed that taxpayer money can be used to pay for fossil gas, risking locking us in to stranded assets and climate pollution, and ramping up the costs of the transition. It's a massive blow to those the fund was supposed to support in the move to climate neutrality. All those who want a just and green recovery from the economic crisis should rise up and condemn the European Parliament today."

MEPs' position is directly opposed to that of the European Commission, EU Member States and the EU Committee of the Regions, which all opposed the inclusion of gas. Civil society is also united against fossil fuels in the Fund, with over 60 NGOs sending an open letter to MEPs early this week.

On 24 September 2020, WWF is organising with the city of Bytom, Upper Silesia, the third meeting of mayors from European coal regions to discuss a future beyond coal. The keynote speech will be given by EU Commission Executive Vice-President Timmermans. Info here and register here.

Contact:
Katie Treadwell
Energy Policy Officer
WWF European Policy Office
ktreadwell@wwf.eu
+32 470 73 57 48

Sarah Azau
Media Manager
WWF European Policy Office
sazau@wwf.eu
+32 473 573 137
Posted: September 16, 2020, 12:00 am
Renewable energy © PixabayThe Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), of which WWF is a partner, has debuted a process to develop the first science-based global standard for corporate net-zero target setting, with a view to ensuring that companies' net-zero targets translate into climate action that is consistent with achieving a net-zero world by no later than 2050. 

A new paper, published today, lays out the conceptual foundations for credible, science-based net-zero targets for the corporate sector. 

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that global emissions must drop to net-zero by 2050 for the best chance of avoiding the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. 

The new paper from the SBTi, Foundations for Science-Based Net-Zero Target Setting in the Corporate Sector, is the result of extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders from the scientific, business, conservation and financial spheres. 

The paper lays out the conceptual foundations for corporate net-zero target setting, including clarity on what it means for companies to reach net-zero emissions, analysis of existing net-zero target setting practices, assessment of strategies that are consistent with achieving a net-zero economy, and initial recommendations for science-based net-zero goals. The conceptual foundations discussed in the paper will be translated into detailed guidelines and criteria to be developed by the initiative as part of a continued multi-stakeholder process.

The paper authors conclude that: 
  • Climate science must inform net-zero strategies in the corporate sector to ensure that the growing momentum behind net-zero translates into action that is consistent with achieving a net-zero world by no later than 2050;
  • For a corporate net-zero target to be science-based, two conditions must be met:
  1. It must lead to a depth of decarbonization consistent with the profound cut in emissions needed in the global economy to limit warming to 1.5°C and;
  2. It must neutralize the impact of any sources of residual emissions that cannot be eliminated by permanently removing an equivalent amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
  • Companies may choose to offset their emissions as they transition towards a state of net-zero emissions. This can help direct much needed finance from companies to activities that can avoid emissions or bring down the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere. But offsetting emissions does not eliminate the need to reduce emissions in line with science: this must remain the overarching priority for companies and the central focus of any credible net-zero strategy.

Alexander Farsan, global lead for Science Based Targets at WWF, one of the Science Based Targets initiative partners said: "This paper gives a solid, science-based grounding to what it really means for a company to achieve net-zero. It makes it clear that to reach net-zero and avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, companies need to urgently and drastically cut their emissions in line with science before exploring any other options." 

Alberto Carrillo Pineda, a report author and director of Science Based Targets at CDP, one of the SBTi partners, said: "Net-zero by 2050 is our north star but every second that passes between now and then will determine whether or not we get there. There is no time to lose. Alongside long-term ambition we need to see aggressive emissions reductions in line with climate science, now, and across all sectors of the global economy. Hundreds of companies around the world are already showing that this is possible and putting their trust in science to build the zero-carbon economy of the future."

Nigel Topping, UK High Level Climate Action Champion for COP26, said: "As governments work to recover from the devastating economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to rebuild a healthy, resilient and zero carbon economy that mitigates future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth. Ambition is growing, and as we ramp up our collective efforts to deliver on the Paris Agreement, we must unite behind science to guide our action. That means a robust and science-based understanding of what net-zero means, and what needs to happen in order to get there." 

Currently, the SBTi validates companies' greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets if they are consistent with keeping warming to well below 2°C or 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures. Over 990 companies have committed to set science-based targets and over 460 have targets validated by the initiative. 

To date, over 270 companies have made commitments in line with reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 through the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign, led by the SBTi in partnership with the UN Global Compact and the We Mean Business coalition. 

For more information, contact:
Mandy Jean Woods - mwoods@wwfint.org
Posted: September 15, 2020, 12:00 am
MEPs from the EPP, Renew and S&D could allow gas to be eligible for Just Transition funding. This would undermine workers and the path to a climate neutral EU. © Alix @CartoonBaseOn the week of 14 September, the European Parliament has a chance to help free Europe's regions from fossil fuels and support the creation of sustainable jobs. MEPs will vote in plenary on the EUR17.5 billion Just Transition Fund, which aims to support EU regions such as the coal regions of Southwest Bulgaria's and the Jiu Valley of Romania in their transition to climate neutrality.
 
The gas industry has been particularly busy lately, pandemic or no pandemic. Gas lobbyists have met with EU officials 49 times between March and July 2020 alone. It is no surprise that the industry is worried: the writing's on the wall for fossil fuels. We are moving towards a zero carbon EU, and gas is terrible for the climate - leaked methane emissions can make it even worse than coal. Already, new gas infrastructure is not economically viable and there is far less demand for gas than previously estimated.  Yet despite the facts, and with a crucial European Parliament vote just days away, the industry's efforts appear to be paying off. 
 
MEPs must overturn the regressive position of the Parliament's Regional Affairs Committee, which voted in favour of gas being eligible for Just Transition funding. To the gas lobby, the concept of 'fake news' is all too familiar. It has been writing its own fake news for years, using its wealth and influence to portray itself as a clean and sustainable "transition fuel." Polluting gas has no place in a climate neutral Europe and is not particularly effective for job creation.
 
The European Commission, EU Member States and the EU Committee of the Regions all oppose gas getting Just Transition funding. 
 
"MEPs have a crucial choice. They can kick out fossil fuels and help Europe's most vulnerable regions unlock the door to a sustainable future. Or they can take money away from those regions to give it to the polluting gas industry. Doing this would be a shocking betrayal both of European citizens and of the climate targets MEPs claim they endorse." - Katie Treadwell, Energy Policy Officer, WWF European Policy Office
 
What does WWF want?
To truly deliver, the EU Just Transition Mechanism should do three key things:
  1. Exclude gas and other fossil fuels - only projects consistent with a sustainable and climate neutral Europe by 2040 should be financed;
  2. Require plans to be aligned with EU climate targets to access funds, reward climate ambition and include coal phase-out dates of 2030 latest, and gas phase-out dates of 2035 latest; and
  3. Encourage and enable effective partnerships by supporting transparency and meaningful engagement, including with civil society, local governments and trade unions.
 
Allowing the gas industry to get Just Transition Fund money would directly contradict the concept of a just transition to a zero carbon economy. Fossil gas has no role as a transitional fuel: it accelerates climate change and leaked methane emissions can make it worse for the climate than coal. There is also zero evidence that it would create many or decent jobs, while every $1 million (USD) invested in renewables creates three times more jobs than fossil fuels
 
Last but not least, giving priority and money to gas projects would cement Europe's future in a gas lock-in over the next 40-50 years and waste up to €29 billion of EU taxpayers' money in stranded assets.

Twenty-two organisations including WWF sent a letter on September 8 to the heads of the European political groups calling for the Parliament to reject any opening for fossil gas and ensure the fund prioritises support for Member States who have committed to an ambitious transition.

Background
Just Transition in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) will contribute to achieving EU climate neutrality by 2050 and the local development of target regions by having a positive impact in all the important aspects of the transition process – social, economic and environmental. For example, the total coal reserves in Southwest Bulgaria are estimated to be relatively small - less than 15% of the country's overall reserves; 5% of which is extracted. The two operational thermal power plants (TPPs) in the region, TPP Bobov Dol (Bobov Dol municipality) and TPP Republika (Pernik municipality) burn about 2.5% of the coal, and generate approximately 5% of Bulgaria's annual electricity production. Closing down these two coal-fired power plants will leave an annual 903,781 MWh energy gap that will need to be filled by alternative sustainable sources.
 
A WWF study of the southwest coal region in Bulgaria provided 3 scenarios for possible development of the region. The analysis is an attempt to plan the future of coal regions in Bulgaria and to serve as a tool for policy planning and long-term strategic decision-making first in the districts of Pernik, Kyustendil, Blagoevgrad and Sofia (without the city of Sofia); mainly in the municipalities of Bobov Dol and Pernik, as well as the already two other non-operational mines in the region.
 
There are over 150 protected areas of all types in Southwest Bulgaria, including two of the country's three national parks: Rila National Park (the largest in Bulgaria) and Pirin National Park (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site). These conditions favour economic alternatives such as the development of various forms of tourism, organic farming, organic stock-breeding, sustainable forestry and fishing. Moving in this direction would also comply with the desire that economic activities should be compatible with the conservation of valuable species, habitats and nature in general. This fact should be a prerequisite for a sustainable future and be considered when deciding on alternative, Just Transition Mechanism-funded economic investments in the region.
 
For more information:
Georgi Stefanov
Chief Climate and Energy Expert, WWF-Bulgaria
Tel: +359 889 517 976
Email: gstefanov@wwf.bg
www.wwf.bg / www.climatebg.org  
Skype: zoro_stefanov
 
Posted: September 11, 2020, 12:00 am
Tiny Tots of Nacula village in Yasawa join the mangrove tree planting program and build resilience to climate change © WWF-South Pacific Today the European Parliament's Environment Committee took steps towards turning its 'climate emergency' declaration into action, but stopped too soon. MEPs voted in favour of a 60% emissions reduction target for 2030, which is an increase on the European Commission's proposed 50-55%, but still not the 65% emissions reduction science says is needed. The final vote on adopting or not the whole report takes place tomorrow morning. 

Imke Lübbeke, WWF European Policy Office's head of climate and energy, commented:
"Today's result shows MEPs are more in tune with science than the Commission and Member States. This must now be confirmed in the plenary vote next month."

MEPs failed to say anything about increasing carbon dioxide removals by sinks up to 2030, which needs to happen in parallel to cutting emissions, or to require the Commission to publish an EU decarbonisation roadmap every five years. 

On the plus side, MEPs did support the creation of an independent scientific body, similar to national expert bodies, to advise on EU targets and scrutinise plans and policies for meeting them. 

"Target aside, the rest of today's vote was a mixed bag", said Alex Mason, Senior Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office. "While a move towards scrutiny of EU climate proposals by a formal body is right and necessary, sidelining a five-yearly decarbonisation check-up - as per the Paris Agreement - will make its job harder. And cutting emissions is only part of the picture - we also need to increase carbon dioxide removal in the land use sector, by restoring natural ecosystems like forests and wetlands" 

If the full report including all the amendments voted on today is approved tomorrow, the European Parliament's plenary vote will take place in early (5-9) or mid (19-23) October. Member States will reach agreement ('general approach') on their position possibly in October or December. At the same time, the European Commission is due to publish its impact assessment, known as the '2030 climate target plan' and proposed target increase next week. 

Contact:

Imke Lübbeke
Head of Climate and Energy
iluebbeke@wwf.eu 

Alex Mason
Senior Policy Officer
amason@wwf.eu 
+ 32 494 762 763

Sarah Azau 
Media manager
sazau@wwf.eu 
+32 473 573 137
Posted: September 10, 2020, 12:00 am
LPR 2020 cover page © WWF IntGlobal populations* of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish have suffered an average 68 per cent decline in less than half a century, according to WWF's Living Planet Report 2020, released today. 
This is due in large part to the very same environmental destruction which is contributing to the emergence of zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19.

The Living Planet Report 2020 presents a comprehensive overview of the state of our natural world through the Living Planet Index (LPI), which tracks trends in global wildlife abundance, and contributions from more than 125 experts from around the world. The LPI, provided by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), shows that factors believed to increase the planet's vulnerability to pandemics - including land-use change and the use and trade of wildlife - were also some of the drivers behind the 68 percent average decline in global vertebrate species populations between 1970 and 2016.

In Europe and Central Asia, there has been an average 24 percent decline during the same time span.

"These findings are devastating, and a stark reminder that a healthy planet is a precondition for a healthy human society, and that the European Green Deal is as relevant as ever. Urgent action is needed to halt and reverse the loss of nature and tackle climate change, both within the EU and globally," said Ester Asin, Director of WWF's European Policy Office.

"The recently proposed EU Biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies are potential game changers and must now be unequivocally endorsed and implemented by Member States and Parliament. But that is not enough. We must also curb the EU's global footprint, which is driving the destruction of forests, grasslands and other precious ecosystems outside of Europe. A strong new law to keep products linked to deforestation out of the EU market is urgently needed!"

The Commission's proposals for the EU biodiversity and farm to fork strategies included essential and long overdue targets on protected areas, restoration of nature, organic farming and the reduction of agricultural chemicals. WWF especially welcomed the commitment to present legally binding EU nature restoration targets in 2021. WWF is advocating for 15% of the EU's land and 15% of sea to be restored towards resilient ecosystems, benefiting both biodiversity and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Human consumption driving biodiversity loss

The Living Planet Report shows that the main cause of the dramatic decline in species populations on land observed in the LPI is habitat loss and degradation, including deforestation, driven by how we as humanity produce food.

The EU is the world's second-largest market for forest-risk commodities, such as soy and beef, after China. While the EU imports less soy than China, studies show its soy imports carry a greater risk of being linked to deforestation.

Last week, the European Commission launched a public consultation on a new EU law on deforestation. This is a critical window of opportunity to make a difference to the EU's deforestation footprint and drastically reduce the EU's role in deforestation, ecosystem degradation and forest fires abroad. EU consumers need to be sure that the products they buy are not linked to deforestation and forest fires: only a strong EU law can achieve this.

Freshwater species most threatened on the planet

The LPI shows that wildlife populations found in freshwater habitats have suffered a decline of 84 per cent - the starkest average population decline in any biome. These findings follow the bleak news that populations of migratory freshwater fish species have plummeted globally by 76% on average since 1970, including a 93% collapse in Europe.

With the Water Framework Directive having recently been given the final sign-off, the EU must now invest in full implementation and enforcement, which includes eradicating the misuse of the exemptions provided under the law - particularly when these allow more hydropower projects to go ahead.

Climate change exacerbating biodiversity loss

Climate change is projected to become one of the key drivers of biodiversity loss in the coming decades. At the same time, nature loss can adversely affect climate – for example, deforestation increases greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, it is essential that the climate and biodiversity crises are addressed together.

The new EU climate law - a key component of the European Green Deal - could be a milestone in our fight against climate change. The law must include a 65% emissions reduction target for 2030  and an independent scientific body to scrutinise EU climate policy. In addition, the law must ensure all policies align with the EU's climate targets by 2021.
 
"The findings of this report, and the Covid-19 crisis have demonstrated quite how closely human and planetary health are linked. Now is the moment for our politicians to put their money where their mouth is, by earmarking half of the EU recovery fund for environment and climate action, and ensuring that not a penny will go to fossil fuels and other harmful sectors," concluded Ester Asin.
 
For further information and interview requests, please contact:

Angelika Pullen
Communications Director, WWF European Policy Office
+32 473 94 79 66
apullen@wwf.eu

Notes to Editors
- *Using the data from 4,392 species and 20,811 populations, the 2020 global Living Planet Index shows an average 68 per cent decline in monitored populations. The percentage change in the index reflects the average proportional change in animal population sizes tracked over 46 years - not the number of individual animals lost.
- The full Living Planet Report 2018 and summary versions of the report are available here
- The LPR 2020 is the thirteenth edition of WWF's biennial flagship publication.
- To complement the findings of the 'Bending the curve of terrestrial biodiversity needs an integrated strategy' paper, the Living Planet Report curated a special collection of 20 essays from world-class experts from China to Mexico, ranging from young activists, authors and academics to business leaders, journalists and indigenous leaders, to share with us how they picture a healthy planet for people and nature. They include Sir David Attenborough, pioneer of nature documentary film-making and WWF ambassador and Cass R. Sunstein, behavioural economist and New York Times best-selling coauthor of Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness.
Posted: September 10, 2020, 12:00 am