The latest climate change news from WWF
20 January 2021 - While the world needs to rapidly ramp up efforts to cut emissions, countries also need to urgently accelerate efforts to adapt to the increasingly severe impacts of climate change. This is the key focus of the first global Climate Adaptation Summit, being held on 25 -26 January, highlighting the urgency for countries to develop effective climate adaptation plans.
Adaptation – reducing countries', communities' and ecosystems' vulnerability to the climate crisis by increasing their resilience – is a key pillar of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The agreement requires countries to implement adaptation measures as part of their enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) outlined through National Adaptation Plans (NAPs). For example, NAPs could include climate information systems, early warning, measures to reduce disaster or drought risk, investments in a green future, among other things. These are some elements necessary for robust adaptation strategies, underscoring the urgent need for immediate investment in ambitious initiatives to build resilience to the increasingly destructive impacts of the climate crisis.
The virtual Summit will convene global leaders such former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and current UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson; French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and many others to discuss adaptation issues. The Summit will launch an 'action-propelling' global Adaptation Action Agenda, aiming to accelerate climate adaptation action over the next decade.
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF global lead for climate and energy, said: "This meeting is timeous, necessary and the urgency has never been greater. Sadly, as we start to witness the increasingly severe impacts of climate change, countries also have to accelerate efforts to adapt as well as mitigate.
"The most vulnerable communities all over the world are feeling the impacts of the climate crisis, and ecosystems that they depend upon are under pressure from extreme floods, droughts, wildfires and rising seas, and these impacts are only going to get worse."
Sandeep Chamling Rai, WWF senior advisor for global adaptation policy, said: "This year, we need to see global urgency and ambition in adaptation and building climate resilience. The Summit must pave the way for the journey ahead."
Vanessa Perez-Cirera, WWF deputy global lead for climate and energy, said: "Climate adaptation is not only about technology and infrastructure, but also about the role nature can play in building climate adaptation and resilience. The potential of Nature-based Solutions for climate change - one of the most integral and cost-effective adaptation tools - has yet to be unleashed. Nature can help countries be more resilient to climate change - but if we don't protect it and help it adapt, it can't help us in turn."
Investing in sustainable adaptation solutions can help the world to tackle twin global crises: climate change and nature loss. WWF is working across the globe to build more climate resilient societies and ecosystems, including through Nature-based Solutions and innovative financial solutions. For example, WWF and partners are collaborating on the ambitious Resilient Asian Deltas initiative to help stop the deltas from sinking and shrinking and keep them above the rising seas. WWF is also co-managing the game-changing Dutch Fund for Climate and Development, which uses public funds to leverage new private finance into bankable projects that build climate resilience.
Stuart Orr, WWF global lead for freshwater said: "Rapidly increasing investment in healthy rivers, lakes and wetlands will be critical to global efforts to adapt to climate change since its impacts will most immediately and acutely be felt through water.
"Public funds will never fill the adaptation gap. Innovative financial approaches – such as WWF's Bankable Nature Solutions – can help channel billions in new private investment into sustainable bankable projects that enhance the health of freshwater ecosystems, which will boost adaptation, water security and freshwater biodiversity".
WWF works with a variety of partners to:
- Elevate the role of Nature-based Solutions for climate adaptation and the need for increased public and blended finance to reach the most vulnerable communities;
- Work with the International Union for Conservation of Nature to develop and pilot standards for Nature-based Solutions;
- Provide practical guidance for countries to include Nature-based Solutions in their national climate plans (or Nationally Determined Contributions - NDCs);
- Propose ways to align concepts, measures and safeguards between the United Nations Framework for Climate Change and the Post-2020 Framework for the Convention on Biological Diversity;
- Develop science-based guidance for synergistic interventions;
- Identify policy, governance and financial solutions to sustainably fund and scale projects;
- Work with local communities and indigenous groups to design and develop best in class projects that benefit climate, nature and people.
- Channel investment into climate-smart agriculture, forest and wetland restoration, resilient coral reefs to help communities adapt to climate change.
Notes for Editors
A recent report by the UN Environmental Programme noted that 72% of countries have adopted at least one national-level adaptation planning instrument, while a further 9% are developing one. Most developing countries are preparing National Adaptation Plans and including adaptation actions in their updated NDCs. But finance for these plans falls far short of what is needed to ensure implementation.
Join these WWF events at the Summit - remember you have to register to get access to the events.
- Launch of the Race to Resilience campaign by UN Climate Change and the Climate Champions at 4pm CET, right after the opening event. This is a partner campaign with the Race to Zero.
- The Resilient Asian Deltas initiative will be featured in the Water Action Track. WWF co-hosted an event in Viet Nam with the governments of Viet Nam and the Netherlands, World Bank and Delta Alliance and that recording will also be featured during the Summit.
- The Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (co-managed by WWF Green Finance Unit) will showcase how public funds can leverage huge amounts of new private finance into Bankable Nature Solutions to build resilient societies, economies and ecosystems.
- Launch of joint WWF & Dutch government report on Water as Leverage as part of a side session in the Water Action Track on the importance of water and freshwater ecosystems to effective climate adaptation. The event involves Dutch government, WWF's Stuart Orr (FW Practice Lead), World Bank, OECD, Valuing Water Initiative and Water Youth Network.
For further information, contact
14 January 2021 – While the world's attention is necessarily focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to not lose sight of the need to step up adaptation action now. Failure to do so could have catastrophic economic and societal impacts, according to a new UN report published today.
Reflecting on the UN Environment Programme's Adaptation Gap 2020 report, WWF senior advisor for global adaptation policy Sandeep Chamling Rai said, "The climate impacts that we are experiencing now are just the tip of the iceberg. These impacts are only going to get worse over time. It is vital that countries move to faster implementation of their National Adaptation action Plans, and that globally, there is greater investment to support building climate resilience."
Adaptation – reducing countries' and communities' vulnerability to climate change by increasing their ability to adapt to impacts – is a key pillar of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The agreement requires its signatories to implement adaptation measures through national plans, climate information systems, early warning, protective measures and investments in a green future.
Key findings from the report show that almost three-quarters of nations have some adaptation plans in place, but financing and implementation fall far short of what is needed; financing for adaptation is only 5% of tracked climate funds (around US$30 billion per year); and Nature-based Solutions is critical for adaptation and needs to receive more attention.
Nature-based Solutions provide human well-being and biodiversity benefits by protecting, sustainably managing and restoring natural or modified ecosystems.
Chamling Rai said, "In the adaptation context, Nature-based Solutions are a low-cost option that reduces climate risks, restores and protects biodiversity and brings benefits for communities and economies. It is a triple win for people, planet and nature."
UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said, "As the UN Secretary-General has said, we need a global commitment to put half of all global climate finance towards adaptation in the next year. This will allow a huge step up in adaptation – in everything from early warning systems to resilient water resources to nature-based solutions."
Chamling Rai said: "2021 must be the year for scaling up adaptation efforts and uniting together for global ambition on adaptation implementation. Rich countries have a moral responsibility to ensure there are sufficient resources allocated to poor countries to implement adaptation plans. Poor countries are, after all, least responsible for climate change, but are most at risk."
WWF is working across the globe to build more climate resilient societies and ecosystems, including through Nature-based Solutions and innovative financial solutions. For example, WWF and partners are collaborating on the ambitious Resilient Asian Deltas initiative to help stop the deltas from sinking and shrinking and keep them above the rising seas. WWF is also co-managing the game-changing Dutch Fund for Climate and Development, which uses public funds to leverage new private finance into bankable projects that build climate resilience.
Notes for Editors:
Useful facts from the UNEP Adaptation Gap 2020 report:
- Adaptation planning is growing, but funding and implementation is lagging.
- 72% of countries have adopted at least one national-level adaptation planning instrument.
- Most developing countries are preparing National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).
- Since 2006, close to 400 adaptation projects financed by multilateral funds serving the Paris Agreement have taken place in developing countries. But of over 1,700 adaptation initiatives surveyed, only 3% had already reported real reductions to climate risks posed to the communities where the projects were being implemented.
- The Green Climate Fund has allocated 40% of its total portfolio to adaptation and is increasingly crowding-in private sector investment.
- An analysis of four major climate and development funds (Global Environment Facility, Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund and International Climate Initiative) show that only US$ 12 billion was spent on Nature-based Solutions, while cumulative investment for climate change mitigation and adaptation projects under the four funds stood at USD 94 billion.
For further information, contact Mandy Jean Woods firstname.lastname@example.org
(11 January) – World leaders today highlighted the destruction of nature as increasing the risk of future pandemics at the One Planet Summit for Biodiversity, kick-starting action on biodiversity ahead of critical environment talks later in the year.
Key announcements from the Summit included the UK and French governments agreeing to earmark 30% of their overseas public climate funding for nature-based solutions. Additionally, Norway and Germany announced new financial commitments, and the launch of the first global initiative to help prevent the next pandemic through collaborative research and reducing pressures on biodiversity. More than US$14 billion in current and new funding was also committed for Africa's Great Green Wall.
The Summit's outcomes provide important global momentum on nature ahead of the adoption of a new global biodiversity agreement in Kunming, China, and critical climate talks in Glasgow, UK, both due to take place later this year. But at the same time, concern is growing that governments are not acting at pace with the widely acknowledged interconnected biodiversity, climate and health crises.
Marco Lambertini, Director-General of WWF-International, said a step change in both ambition and urgency is still needed if we are to secure a sustainable future for both people and the planet.
"Science tells us that our broken relationship with nature is increasing our vulnerability to pandemics, threatening our economies, and undermining our efforts to tackle the climate crisis. Never has the need for urgent action been clearer, but world leaders are yet to demonstrate that they have grasped the scale of the crisis at hand. We urge them to take the necessary steps to deliver a transformative biodiversity agreement in Kunming that secures a nature-positive world this decade while supporting climate action."
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF International global lead for climate and energy said: "We welcome the announcements made today at the One Planet Summit to allocate at least 30% of overseas public climate funding to nature. Nature-based solutions represent up to a third of the mitigation action needed to tackle climate change while having a key impact on job creation, people's climate resilience, and the protection of biodiversity.
"These announcements represent a clear signal that countries want to ensure Nature-based Solutions is strongly represented in the 2021 agenda. This must include further quantifying the private and public benefits of Nature-based Solutions; strengthening the connections between climate and nature, for example through enhanced national climate plans; and going beyond to identify Nature-based Solutions contributions to halting desertification.
"We must recognize that current climate finance is wholly insufficient to ensure meeting the goals of the Paris accord. So we urge all countries to announce new and additional public finance commitments for Nature-based Solutions, renewable energy and energy efficiency which do not diminish development investments but rather magnify their synergies. To ensure systemic impact, additional finance could come from redirecting perverse subsidies in fossil fuels and unsustainable agriculture which drive nature-loss and climate change."
Human activities are currently causing a catastrophic loss of nature. A WWF report published in September revealed that on average vertebrate populations have declined by two-thirds since 1970 - with the factors believed to increase the planet's vulnerability to pandemics - including land-use change and the use and trade of wildlife - some of the main drivers of the decline.
Gavin Edwards, Global Coordinator, New Deal for Nature and People said the announcement of the first global initiative to help prevent the next pandemic through collaborative research and by reducing pressures on nature was welcome.
"Linking the health of people, animals and our shared environment under a One Health approach can drive governments to take stronger and more urgent action for wildlife, and to tackle the ongoing loss of nature through unsustainable agriculture. While the world is still within the grip of the worst pandemic in a century, never has it been more important that we do everything we can to prevent the next one."
At the Summit, a High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People was launched at which 50 countries committed to protecting 30% of their lands and water by 2030, and advocating for this goal at a global level. But, in realising this goal, indigenous peoples and local communities' rights must be respected and secured and that they benefit from these conservation efforts.
It is clear that spatial targets alone will not be sufficient unless all countries raise their ambition and accelerated action to transform the sectors that drive nature loss, most notably the agriculture and land-use sectors, as well as align international finance. So the resolve of governments to remove deforestation from their supply chains, efforts to drive disclosure around nature loss and the finance system, and other initiatives announced at the Summit are also welcome steps.
The Leaders' Pledge for Nature commits endorsers to reversing nature loss by 2030, and is a powerful tool for galvanising global ambition and action in the run up to Kunming and beyond. The announcement today that 83 world leaders have now endorsed the pledge - up from 65 at launch - is hugely encouraging. Now words must now be translated into action by all endorsers.
For further information contact Mandy Jean Woods email@example.com
In the period since the Paris Agreement was adopted, important studies have pointed to the need for countries to increase their ambition to meet the objective of limiting global warming to 1.5°C by the end of the century. In recent months, many countries have indicated they will revise their NDCs and some of the world's major economies have already announced significant increases in their commitments and targets.
Brazil is again going in the opposite direction, isolating itself even more on the international stage. The NDC submitted by the Brazilian government this week presents several problems of content, form and process. Instead of showing increased ambition, Brazil is weakening commitments already made, and tries to use procedural and legal manoeuvres to cover up its backsliding, while violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the Paris Agreement.
It holds out the possibility of an indicative long term target. But, despite being one of the 10 largest economies in the world, makes it (and perhaps the entire NDC) conditional on the payment of US$10 billion a year, with no explanation of the basis for this amount or how the funds would be used.
At a time when Brazil requires economic recovery strategies due to the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, the new NDC should point the way to a low carbon recovery and catalyse investments and international financial support, especially expanding social protection actions for most vulnerable populations. Instead, the new Brazilian NDC will raise red flags, concern and loss of credibility on the international stage, undermine investor interest and further reduce the possibility of new trade agreements.
1. Level of Ambition
Brazil's new NDC has no increase in ambition compared to the first Interim NDC (INDC), presented in 2015 before the publication of alarming new scientific evidence, such as that reflected in the IPCC's Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. The mitigation target in the new NDC will allow significantly more emissions in 2025 and 2030 than previously. This is obscured because, unlike the INDC, the new one does not show the absolute emission targets in tonnes. The new NDC maintains only the percentage reduction for 2025 (reduction of 37% in relation to 2005) and converts what was in the previous NDC an indicative target for 2030 (reduction of 43% in relation to 2005) into its new official 2030 target.
The emission levels in the base year, 2005, were considered to be 2.1 GtCO2e in the INDC, but increased to 2.8 GtCO2e because of methodological changes in the emissions inventory. In other words, the previous absolute target levels of net emissions of 1.3 GtCO2e in 2025 and 1.2 GtCO2e in 2030 increase to 1.8 GtCO2e in 2025 and 1.6 GtCO2e in 2030. This means that NDC is only compatible with a temperature limit of well above 2°C of pre-industrial levels, while the Paris Agreement calls for holding the temperature increase to 1,5°C.
Brazilian civil society's NDC proposal prepared through the Climate Observatory, the country's net emissions in 2030 should be 0.4 GtCO2e to be compatible with the 1.5°C temperature increase limit.
2. 2060 call sign and financial conditionality
Contrary to what Brazil's Minister of Environment Ricardo Salles said during the announcement of the new NDC, emissions neutrality in 2060 is not a commitment, but only a potential indicative objective under consideration. The official text contains only a vague reference to an indicative objective of neutrality in 2060.
The new NDC omitted an important element from the INDC: "The implementation of Brazil's INDC is not contingent upon international support". This unconditionality was an important element of Brazil's INDC, which earned Brazil a privileged status as a mature country serious about combatting climate change and able to stand on its own feet. In omitting this statement, the new NDC leaves open whether the commitments in it for 2025 and 2030 are conditional or not on international support and agreement on carbon market rules. Some elements of the new NDC appear to establish such conditionality. For example, by indicating that meeting the targets depends on agreement on carbon market rules, the requirement to receive US$10 billion / year to meet its various challenges including protection of native vegetation – which will be essential to meetings its 2025 and 2030 targets.
If such a conditionality exists in the current NDC, it would constitute a clear case of backsliding, which would be a serious violation of the rules and spirit of the Paris Agreement, which make clear that each new NDC must be a progression from the last one.
In order to circumvent this principle, the Brazilian Government indicated that the new NDC should be considered by UN Climate Change as a new version of Brazil's INDC, rather than as the second NDC. The latter would make more sense since it covers a different time frame than the INDC. This appears to be a manoeuvre to avoid the accusation of backsliding from one NDC to the next, in light of a reduction in ambition in relation to the commitments already made.
3. Confusing and lacking specifics
Achieving the targets depends, among other things, on the establishment and implementation of public policies in the economic sectors with significant emissions. The omission of measures to reduce deforestation, fossil fuel emissions and subsidies, and to encourage forest restoration actions and the adoption of integrated crop-livestock-forest systems, among other areas (which were included in the INDC) make the new NDC a vague and unfocused proposal compared to the previous one.
Likewise, the new NDC makes only a brief mention of the National Climate Change Policy. It does not mention that the government will fail to meet the goal established by this policy of reaching a level of deforestation in the Amazon by less than 3,925 km² in 2020 (currently it is over 11 thousand km²).
Clarity in communicating sectoral goals and the respective measures are fundamental for the engagement of the various actors necessary for their implementation and improvement. By presenting a NDC that is confused in its commitments and diffuse in the way it will implement them, the Brazilian government is creating obstacles to the engagement and financial or institutional support of other countries.
4. Adaptation and the social issue
Although the government notes Brazil's position as a developing country, citing the social dimension as strategic, the new NDC does not include adaptation actions to protect Brazilian society from climate change impacts and to build resilience, which was included in the INDC.
The lack of adaptation actions affects several important sectors of the economy, including agriculture. It is worth remembering that the World Meteorological Organization pointed out in its State of the Global Climate 2020 report that the estimated loss this year for agriculture is almost US$16 billion in Brazil alone.
5. Social Participation
The emissions reductions requires a collective effort by various actors in the interest of society, which is why the preparation of NDC's must be a participatory process, open to academia, civil society, the private sector and all other stakeholders. In several sectors, it would be possible to increase the level of ambition established in 2015, which would also provide economic, environmental and social benefits.
The new NDC mentions some institutional arrangements for the participation of society, such as the Interministerial Committee on Climate Change, the Brazilian Climate Change Forum (FBMC), Articles 5, 231 and 232 of the Federal Constitution on the rights and guarantees of citizens, especially women and Indigenous Peoples, and the International Labour Organization Convention 169 on Indigenous Peoples. But in practice, these spaces were not used to foster dialogue and participation by society in the review of the NDC. FBMC members were not even consulted about the proposal.
For further information contact:
Karina Yamamoto - firstname.lastname@example.org or (WWF-Brazil)
Mandy Jean Woods email@example.com (WWF International Climate & Energy)
The target will be included in Colombia's Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). NDCs brings together the goals, actions and measures that each country set and will carry out to mitigate the causes of climate change and adapt to its effects. The 196 countries who approved the global climate Paris Agreement in 2015, of which Colombia was one, are required to submit their enhanced NDCs to the UN by the end of this year. The Paris Agreement's goal is to keep the Earth's average surface temperatures to 1.5˚C to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
The goal to reduce emissions is the starting point from which the rest of the NDC components branch, since the measures and actions that it must take to achieve it, will depend on how ambitious the country is in this regard, as well as the means with which it will implement them.
With its announcement, Colombia joins a growing number of countries who have indicated they would revise their NDCs. To date, 17 countries have submitted NDCs to the UN, and many more are expected to submit their NDCs by the end of this year. Of these, Colombia is one of the countries which has enhanced their NDC.
Ximena Barrera, Director of government affairs and international relations for WWF Colombia said the announcement was enabled by a robust domestic review process of the first five years of implementation of national commitments.
"A process, coordinated by the Colombian Government, to define new goals and concrete plans to tackle the climate crisis involved key sectors of the Colombian economy with the greatest emissions and need to adapt: Agriculture and Rural Development; Commerce, Industry and Tourism; Transportation; Housing; Energy and Mining; and Health and Social Protection," she said.
The 2030 goal has more than 30 mitigation measures and 29 adaptation measures to accomplish it. The 51% target is aligned with Colombia's Long Term Strategy to be net-zero by 2050.
"But perhaps, the most positive aspect is that the definition of the 51% goal was a collective and participatory process in which different sectors of the government were engaged.
"The process included the engagement of various other actors; a targeted survey for environmental experts; a public consultation in which any citizen could read the NDC update and make contributions; spaces for dialogue with community actors; and workshops with the members of the nine Regional Climate Change Nodes in the country," she said.
"It is worth noting that Colombia's progressive move of establishing regional climate change nodes throughout the territories were invaluable in being able to pin-point the areas where we could reduce emissions."
In Colombia, greenhouse gas emissions predominantly come from seven activities or sectors, and deforestation is the main driver of emissions (16.68% of total emissions in Colombia). Last year alone, an area of forest equivalent to 26 soccer fields was deforested every hour in the country. So controlling and modifying the causes associated with this practice that has great impacts on the environment and human well-being is urgent, and should be reflected in the updated NDC, said Barrera.
"We congratulate the Colombian Government for their laser-focus on ensuring an ambitious national response to addressing the climate crisis. We are feeling very positive that, with the support and commitment of all sectors and actors involved, the new NDC will be successfully implemented over the next decade," Barrera said.
Notes to Editors
- In support of the Colombian Government's ambitious climate commitments, WWF-Colombia has worked with the national Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and the World Bank on participation and communications strategy for updating the NDC.
- Colombia will submit its NDC to the UN before the end of this year, in line with the obligations set out in the Paris Agreement.
- WWF provided experts to engage and support climate change actors in the territories, ethnic and peasant communities, and Colombians in general, ensuring that the updating of the NDC were truly consultative and inclusive of all views. The mitigation and adaptation actions that Colombia will carry out to meet its goal, as well as the means of implementation through which it would achieve it, will only be achieved if everyone plays their part.
- Climate change causes are directly related to the way humans produce and consume. Every time we burn fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas, among others) to move around, transport goods, produce or consume electrical energy, for example, we generate greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to global warming. Disasters like those that Hurricane Iota caused in recent days in San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina -Colombia's main islands- anticipate how the coming years will be if we are not ambitious with climate action.
NDCs (or national climate plans and emissions targets) are a centrepiece of the Paris Agreement and countries are required to update their NDCs every five years, starting with this year. Previously, Scotland and the UK were part of a joint EU NDC, which set an EU-wide emissions target. The UK Government are developing a UK-wide NDC to submit ahead of COP26.
Environment and Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: "While we are part of the UK, Scotland cannot formally submit an NDC. However, the Scottish Government is determined to engage with and raise global climate ambition ahead of welcoming the world to Glasgow next year. We will publish 'Scotland's contribution to the Paris Agreement – an indicative NDC'. It will focus on Scotland's world-leading target to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030." The Scottish indicative NDC will follow the Government's update to its 2018 Climate Change Plan, to be published this month, and which will set out further action to tackle the global climate crisis."
In response, WWF-Scotland director Lang Banks said, "We welcome the announcement from Scottish Government that they will publish an indicative NDC before hosting COP in Glasgow in 2021. By doing so, Scotland is showing real commitment to doing its part in keeping us below a catastrophic 2˚C
global temperature rises. Voices from across civil society in Scotland have been calling on Scottish Government to make this commitment, and we're delighted that by doing so they are helping create an international 'race to the top' on ambitious climate action."
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF global lead for climate and energy, welcomed the statement saying, Scotland, where COP26 will take place in November 2021, continues to show what other governments could be doing to set the pace on climate ambition.
"For the world to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, as scientists say we must if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need a collective effort and fearless leadership. Scotland is uniquely positioned to take innovative climate action and to influence others to do the same. Scotland's efforts will, no doubt, rally Scottish cities, businesses, investors and citizens to take their own ambitious action to reduce emissions," he said.
Notes to Editors:
- Scotland is one of the original signatories to the Climate Ambition Alliance, launched in December 2019 at COP25.
- Scotland is a leading member of the Under 2 Coalition of states and regions committed to keeping warming to below 2˚C while striving for 1.5˚C.
- Glasgow will host COP26 from 1-12 November 2021.
For further information, contact:
Lexi Parfitt LParfitt@wwfscotland.org.uk
Mandy Jean Woods firstname.lastname@example.org
(3 December, 2020) - Just days ahead of co-hosting the Climate Ambition Summit and on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the approval of the global Paris climate agreement, the UK government announced it would reduce its emissions by at least 68% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, setting the pace for all other countries.
These targets are included in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) where countries set out their national plans for climate action and emissions reduction targets that should be enhanced every 5 years. Countries are required to submit revised NDCs this year in terms of the Paris Agreement.
Responding to the announcement, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF global lead for climate and energy said: "The UK government announced the most ambitious 2030 target so far, and for that they must be commended.
"As the COP26 Presidency, they are signalling their intention to be global climate leaders.
"We are on the brink of systemic change. The decisions we make now will fundamentally shape our future. It starts with countries submitting ambitious NDCs that will ensure we do what climate scientists say we must do - get to net-zero by 2050. To do that we must ensure that we sharply reduce emissions in the short-term, like the UK has pledged.
"We urge other countries to follow the UK's lead. We cannot afford to fail this race to zero."
Tanya Steele, WWF-UK Chief Executive said: "It's great the UK is raising its ambition on emissions reduction: the faster we move now, the faster we reap the benefits not only for the climate but in good jobs, cleaner air and a competitive edge for UK businesses in a fast-growing sector.
"Of course we know we could go even further, but this is a huge step in the right direction. We now need the policies in place to achieve this target, if we're going to lead and inspire the whole world to meet the ambition of the Paris Agreement."
For further information, contact:
Mandy Jean Woods (WWF International Climate & Energy) email@example.com
Lis Speight (WWF-UK) LSpeight@wwf.org.uk
We are facing a devastating pandemic, new heights of global heating, new lows of ecological degradation and new setbacks in our work towards global goals for more equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.
To put it simply, the state of the planet is broken.
Humanity is waging war on nature.
This is suicidal.
Nature always strikes back -- and it is already doing so with growing force and fury.
Biodiversity is collapsing. One million species are at risk of extinction.
Ecosystems are disappearing before our eyes.
Deserts are spreading.
Wetlands are being lost.
Every year, we lose 10 million hectares of forests.
Oceans are overfished -- and choking with plastic waste. The carbon dioxide they absorb is acidifying the seas.
Coral reefs are bleached and dying.
Air and water pollution are killing 9 million people annually – more than six times the current toll of the pandemic.
And with people and livestock encroaching further into animal habitats and disrupting wild spaces, we could see more viruses and other disease-causing agents jump from animals to humans.
Let's not forget that 75 per cent of new and emerging human infectious diseases are zoonotic.
Today, two new authoritative reports from the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme spell out how close we are to climate catastrophe.
2020 is on track to be one of the three warmest years on record globally – even with the cooling effect of this year's La Nina.
The past decade was the hottest in human history.
Ocean heat is at record levels.
This year, more than 80 per cent of the world's oceans experienced a marine heatwave.
In the Arctic, 2020 has seen exceptional warmth, with temperatures more than 3 degrees Celsius above average – and more than 5 degrees in northern Siberia.
Arctic sea ice in October was the lowest on record – and now re-freezing has been the slowest on record.
Greenland ice has continued its long-term decline, losing an average of 278 gigatons a year.
Permafrost is melting and releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Apocalyptic fires and floods, cyclones and hurricanes are increasingly the new normal.
The North Atlantic hurricane season has seen 30 storms, more than double the long-term average and breaking the record for a full season.
Central America is still reeling from two back-to-back hurricanes, part of the most intense period for such storms in recent years.
Last year such disasters cost the world $150 billion.
COVID-19 lockdowns have temporarily reduced emissions and pollution.
But carbon dioxide levels are still at record highs – and rising.
In 2019, carbon dioxide levels reached 148 per cent of pre-industrial levels.
In 2020, the upward trend has continued despite the pandemic.
Methane soared even higher – to 260 per cent.
Nitrous oxide, a powerful greenhouse gas that also harms the ozone layer, has escalated by 123 per cent.
Meanwhile, climate policies have yet to rise to the challenge.
Emissions are 62 per cent higher today than when international climate negotiations began in 1990.
Every tenth of a degree of warming matters.
Today, we are at 1.2 degrees of warming and already witnessing unprecedented climate extremes and volatility in every region and on every continent.
We are headed for a thundering temperature rise of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius this century.
The science is crystal clear: to limit temperature rise to 1.5-degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the world needs to decrease fossil fuel production by roughly 6 per cent every year between now and 2030.
Instead, the world is going in the opposite direction — planning an annual increase of 2 per cent.
The fallout of the assault on our planet is impeding our efforts to eliminate poverty and imperiling food security.
And it is making our work for peace even more difficult, as the disruptions drive instability, displacement and conflict.
It is no coincidence that seventy per cent of the most climate vulnerable countries are also among the most politically and economically fragile.
It is not happenstance that of the 15 countries most susceptible to climate risks, eight host a United Nations peacekeeping or special political mission.
As always, the impacts fall most heavily on the world's most vulnerable people.
Those who have done the least to cause the problem suffer the most.
Even in the developed world, the marginalized are the first victims of disasters and the last to recover.
Let's be clear: human activities are at the root of our descent toward chaos.
But that means human action can help solve it.
Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top, top priority for everyone, everywhere.
In this context, the recovery from the pandemic is an opportunity.
We can see rays of hope in the form of a vaccine.
But there is no vaccine for the planet.
Nature needs a bailout.
In overcoming the pandemic, we can also avert climate cataclysm and restore our planet.
This is an epic policy test. But ultimately this is a moral test.
The trillions of dollars needed for COVID recovery is money that we are borrowing from future generations. Every last penny.
We cannot use those resources to lock in policies that burden them with a mountain of debt on a broken planet.
It is time to flick the "green switch". We have a chance to not simply reset the world economy but to transform it.
A sustainable economy driven by renewable energy will create new jobs, cleaner infrastructure and a resilient future.
An inclusive world will help ensure that people can enjoy better health and the full respect of their human rights, and live with dignity on a healthy planet.
COVID recovery and our planet's repair can be two sides of the same coin.
Let me start with the climate emergency. We face three imperatives in addressing the climate crisis:
First, we need to achieve global carbon neutrality within the next three decades.
Second, we have to align global finance behind the Paris Agreement, the world's blueprint for climate action.
Third, we must deliver a breakthrough on adaptation to protect the world – and especially the most vulnerable people and countries -- from climate impacts.
Let me take these in turn.
First, carbon neutrality – net zero emissions.
In recent weeks, we have seen important positive developments.
The European Union has committed to become first climate neutral continent by 2050 – and I expect it will decide to reduce its emissions to at least 55 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030.
Japan, the Republic of Korea and more than 110 countries have committed to carbon neutrality by 2050.
The future United States administration has announced the same goal.
China has committed to get there before 2060.
This means that by early next year, countries representing more than 65 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions and more than 70 per cent of the world economy will have made ambitious commitments to carbon neutrality.
We must turn this momentum into a movement.
The central objective of the United Nations for 2021 is to build a truly Global Coalition for Carbon Neutrality.
I firmly believe that 2021 can be a new kind of leap year — the year of a quantum leap towards carbon neutrality.
Every country, city, financial institution and company should adopt plans for transitioning to net zero emissions by 2050 -- and take decisive action now to put themselves on the right path towards achieving this vision, which means cutting global emissions by 45 percent by 2030 compared with 2010 levels.
Every individual must also do their part -- as consumers, as producers, as investors.
Technology is on our side.
Sound economic analysis is our ally.
More than half the coal plants operating today cost more to run than building new renewables.
The coal business is going up in smoke.
The International Labour Organization estimates that, despite inevitable job losses, the clean energy transition will result in the net creation of 18 million jobs by 2030.
But a just transition is absolutely critical.
We must recognize the human costs of the energy shift.
Social protection, temporary basic income, re-skilling and up-skilling can help to support workers and ease the changes caused by decarbonization.
Renewable energy is now the first choice not just for the environment, but for the economy.
But there are worrying signs.
Some countries have used the crisis to roll back environmental protections.
Others are expanding natural resource exploitation and retreating from climate ambition.
The G20 members, in their rescue packages, are spending 50 per cent more on sectors linked to fossil fuel production and consumption, than on low-carbon energy.
And beyond announcements, all must pass a credibility test.
Let me take the example of shipping.
If the shipping sector was a country, it would be the world's sixth biggest greenhouse gas emitter.
At last year's Climate Action Summit, we launched the Getting to Zero Shipping Coalition to push for zero emissions deep sea vessels by 2030.
Yet current policies are not in line with those pledges.
We need to see enforceable regulatory and fiscal steps so that the shipping industry can deliver its commitments.
Otherwise, the net zero ship will have sailed.
Exactly the same applies to aviation.
The Paris signatories are obligated to submit their revised Nationally Determined Contributions with their 2030 emissions cut targets.
Ten days from now, along with France and the United Kingdom, I am convening a Climate Ambition Summit to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement.
Less than a year from now, we will all meet in Glasgow for COP26.
These moments are opportunities for nations to detail how they will build forward and build better, acknowledging the common but differentiated responsibilities in the light of national circumstances – one of the main principles that underpin all our efforts to meet the climate challenge.
Second, let me now turn to key question of finance.
The commitments to net zero emissions are sending a clear signal to investors, markets and finance ministers.
But we need to go further.
We need all governments to translate these pledges into policies, plans and targets with specific timelines. This will provide certainty and confidence for businesses and the financial sector to invest for net zero.
It is time:
To put a price on carbon.
To phase out fossil fuel finance and end fossil fuel subsidies.
To stop building new coal power plants -- and halt coal power financing domestically and overseas.
To shift the tax burden from income to carbon, and from taxpayers to polluters.
To integrate the goal of carbon neutrality into all economic and fiscal policies and decisions.
And to make climate-related financial risk disclosures mandatory.
Funding should flow to the green economy, resilience, adaptation and just transition programmes.
We need to align all public and private financial flows behind the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Multilateral, regional and national development institutions, and private banks, must all commit to align their lending to the global net zero objective.
I call on all asset owners and managers to decarbonize their portfolios and to join key initiatives and partnerships launched by the United Nations, including the Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance and the Net-Zero Asset Owners Alliance.
Companies need to adjust their business models – and investors need to demand information from companies on the resilience of those models.
The world's pension funds manage $32 trillion dollars in assets, putting them in a unique position to move the needle. They are still far from doing so.
I appeal to developed countries to fulfill their long-standing promise to provide $100 billion dollars annually to support developing countries in reaching our shared climate goals.
We are not there yet.
This is a matter of equity, fairness, solidarity and enlightened self-interest.
And I ask all countries to reach a compromise on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, as they prepare for COP26, to get us the clear, fair and environmentally sound rules carbon markets need to fully function.
I also welcome the work of the task force launched in September, with members representing 20 sectors and 6 continents, to develop a blueprint for large-scale private carbon offset markets
Third, we need a breakthrough on adaptation and resilience.
We are in a race against time to adapt to a rapidly changing climate.
Adaptation must not be the forgotten component of climate action.
Until now, adaptation represents only 20 per cent of climate finance, reaching only $30 billion on average in 2017 and 2018.
This hinders our essential work for disaster risk reduction.
It also isn't smart.
The Global Commission on Adaptation found that every $1 invested in adaptation measures could yield almost $4 in benefits.
We have both a moral imperative and a clear economic case for supporting developing countries to adapt and build resilience to current and future climate impacts.
Before COP 26, all donors and the Multilateral Development Banks should commit to increase the share of adaptation and resilience finance to at least 50 per cent of their climate finance support.
Early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dry land agriculture, mangrove protection and other steps can give the world a double dividend: avoiding future losses and generating economic gains and other benefits.
We need to move to large-scale, preventive and systematic adaptation support.
This is especially urgent for small island developing states, which face an existential threat.
The race to resilience is as important as the race to net zero.
Let's remember: there can be no separating climate action from the larger planetary picture. Everything is interlinked – the global commons and global well-being.
That means we must act more broadly, more holistically, across many fronts, to secure the health of our planet on which all life depends
Nature feeds us, clothes us, quenches our thirst, generates our oxygen, shapes our culture and our faiths and forges our very identity.
2020 was to have been a "super year" for nature. The pandemic has had other plans for us.
Now we must use 2021 to address our planetary emergency.
Next year, countries will meet in Kunming to forge a post-2020 biodiversity framework to halt the extinction crisis and put the world on a pathway to living in harmony with nature.
The world has not met any of the global biodiversity targets set for 2020. And so we need more ambition and greater commitment to deliver on measurable targets and means of implementation, particularly finance and monitoring mechanisms.
- More and bigger effectively managed conservation areas, so that our assault on species and ecosystems can be halted;
- Biodiversity-positive agriculture and fisheries, reducing our overexploitation and destruction of the natural world,
- Phasing out negative subsidies -- the subsidies that destroy healthy soils, pollute our waterways and lead us to fish oceans empty.
- Shift from unsustainable and nature-negative extractive resource mining, and to broader sustainable consumption patterns
Biodiversity is not just cute and charismatic wildlife; it is the living, breathing web of life.
Also in 2021, countries will hold the Ocean Conference to protect and advance the health of the world's marine environments.
Overfishing must stop; chemical and solid waste pollution – plastic in particular -- must be reduced drastically; marine reserves must increase significantly; and coastal areas need greater protection.
The blue economy offers remarkable potential. Already, goods and services from the ocean generate $2.5 trillion each year and contribute over 31 million direct full-time jobs – at least until the pandemic struck.
We need urgent action on a global scale to reap these benefits and protect the world's seas and oceans from the many pressures they face.
Next year's global conference on sustainable transport in Beijing must strengthen this vital sector while addressing its negative environmental footprint.
The Food Systems Summit must aim to transform global food production and consumption. Food systems are one of the main reasons we are failing to stay within our planet's ecological boundaries.
At the beginning of 2021, we will launch the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration focused on preventing, halting and reversing the degradation of forests, land and other ecosystems worldwide. The Decade is a rallying cry for all who want to tackle the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change with practical and hands-on action.
The International Conference on Chemicals Management will establish a post-2020 framework on chemicals and waste. According to the World Health Organization, sound chemicals management could prevent at least 1.6 million deaths per year.
2021 will also be critical in advancing the New Urban Agenda. The world's cities are fundamental frontlines on sustainable development – vulnerable to disaster yet vectors of innovation and dynamism. Let us not forget that more than 50 per cent of humankind already lives in cities – and this number will be 68 per cent in 2050.
Next year, in short, gives us a wealth of opportunities to stop the plunder and start the healing.
One of our best allies is nature itself.
Drastically reducing deforestation and systemically restoring forests and other ecosystems is the single largest nature-based opportunity for climate mitigation.
Indeed, nature-based solutions could provide one third of the net reductions in greenhouse gas emissions required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The World Economic Forum has estimated that business opportunities across nature could create 191 million jobs by 2030.
Africa's Great Green Wall alone has created 335,000 jobs.
Indigenous knowledge, distilled over millennia of close and direct contact with nature, can help to point the way.
Indigenous peoples make up less than 6 per cent of the world's population yet are stewards of 80 per cent of the world's biodiversity on land.
Already, we know that nature managed by indigenous peoples is declining less rapidly than elsewhere.
With indigenous peoples living on land that is among the most vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation, it is time to heed their voices, reward their knowledge and respect their rights.
Let's also recognize the central role of women.
The impacts of climate change and environmental degradation fall most heavily on women. They are 80 per cent of those displaced by climate change.
But women are also the backbone of agriculture and key stewards of natural resources. They are among the world's leading environmental human rights defenders.
And women's representation in national parliaments is linked directly to the signing of climate action agreements.
As humankind devises strategies for natural resource governance, environmental preservation and building a green economy, we need more women decision-makers at the table.
I have detailed an emergency, but I also see hope.
I see a history of advances that show what can be done – from rescuing the ozone layer to reducing extinction rates to expanding protected areas.
Many cities are becoming greener.
The circular economy is reducing waste.
Environmental laws have growing reach.
At least 155 United Nations Member States now legally recognize a healthy environment as a basic human right.
And the knowledge base is greater than ever.
I was pleased to learn that Columbia University has launched a Climate School, the first new school here in a quarter of a century. This is a wonderful demonstration of scholarship and leadership.
I am delighted to know that so many members of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network are with us today as special guests – university presidents, chancellors, deans, faculty and other scholars.
The United Nations Academic Impact initiative is working with institutions of higher education across the globe. The contributions of universities are essential to our success.
A new world is taking shape.
More and more people are recognizing the limits of conventional yardsticks such as Gross Domestic Product, in which environmentally damaging activities can count as economic positives.
Mindsets are shifting.
More and more people are understanding the need for their own daily choices to reduce their carbon footprint and respect planetary boundaries.
And we see inspiring waves of social mobilization by young people.
From protests in the streets to advocacy on-line...
From classroom education to community engagement...
From voting booths to places of work...
Young people are pushing their elders to do what is right.
This is a moment of truth for people and planet alike.
COVID and climate have brought us to a threshold.
We cannot go back to the old normal of inequality, injustice and heedless dominion over the Earth.
Instead we must step towards a safer, more sustainable and equitable path.
We have a blueprint: the 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The door is open; the solutions are there.
Now is the time to transform humankind's relationship with the natural world – and with each other.
And we must do so together.
Solidarity is humanity. Solidarity is survival.
That is the lesson of 2020.
With the world in disunity and disarray trying to contain the pandemic, let's learn the lesson and change course for the pivotal period ahead.
There are clear parallels between the climate emergency and the COVID-19 pandemic. Both are global crises. Both require unprecedented society-wide efforts. No-one can fully insulate themselves from their effects. And the impacts of both those crises are much more keenly felt by the poor than the rich – whether countries, communities or individuals.
It is clear that our responses to the two crises must also take place in parallel. The response to the economic disruption caused by the pandemic provides an opportunity to build back better, to build economies and societies that are more resilient to the effects of a changing climate – although this is an opportunity that, so far, is only being grasped by a handful of countries, most in the Global North.
Building back better also provides an opportunity to tackle the injustices created by climate change, while avoiding potentially new injustices as we transition to a net-zero economy.
The new #WorldWeWant campaign from Climate Action Network International seeks to highlight this, by showcasing on-the-ground stories of communities experiencing the impacts of climate change. It calls for governments to take immediate action to secure a safe and resilient future for all. Whether the #WorldWeWant becomes a reality or not depends on countries adopting the principles of climate justice.
What do we mean by climate justice?
Climate justice manifests itself in a number of ways. In terms of relations between countries, it is enshrined in the global climate negotiations, in the principle of 'common but differentiated responsibilities'.
That principle acknowledges that, while we all share responsibility for mitigating climate change, the burdens imposed by mitigation should be borne mostly by those countries that have done the most to cause the climate crisis, and which have profited enormously from fossil fuel-powered industrialization. That means the rich world has the responsibility to cut emissions faster and to provide financial and technological support to developing countries to enable them to follow a low-carbon path to development.
It also means that rich countries have an obligation to support those poor countries as they are battered by the rising sea-levels and extreme weather events inflicted upon them by a destabilized climate. These devastating impacts are being felt now, by vulnerable communities that did the least to cause this crisis. The rich world must compensate least-developed countries for the loss and damage they face from climate change and help them adapt to a less climate-secure world.
A Just Transition for all
Climate justice also means taking care of those who will be disadvantaged as we decarbonize the global economy. The fossil fuel industry employs millions of people around the world, often in well-paying, highly skilled jobs. They face, through no fault of their own, the loss of livelihoods that support them and their families. Entire communities face economic distress and social disintegration when coal mines shut down, or when oil wells are plugged.
The Paris Agreement enshrines the concept, stating that parties must take into account the "imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities". Governments must stand ready to help affected communities with job creation, retraining and, where necessary, social security to prevent stranded fossil fuel assets creating stranded communities.
There are also sound political reasons to ensure a just transition: workers in carbon-intensive industries facing the loss of employment will, understandably, be opposed to progressive climate policies. They must be reassured that they also have a place in a sustainable, net-zero economy.
But there is another constituency that is no less important, but which has no political voice: the generations yet to come. There is an intergenerational aspect to climate justice that must not be overlooked.
We have a responsibility to today's children, and their children, to bequeath a liveable planet with a stable climate and healthy, diverse natural ecosystems - a #WorldWeWant.
We must not let them down.
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal is WWF's Global Lead for Climate & Energy.