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The latest climate change news from WWF

EU Council President with Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki ©  Krystian Maj / KPRMWhat's happening?
On 13-14 July, EU environment ministers are meeting informally via video conference in order to discuss the green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and EU climate policy. They will also talk about digitalisation and the environment. 

Their meeting takes place shortly before European leaders will meet in Brussels to discuss the proposed recovery package and EU budget, on 17-18 July. Recently, the President of the European Council Charles Michel tabled a new proposal of a 30% climate spending target for the whole EU budget and recovery package instead of 25% previously, and integrated the 'do no harm' principle.

Why does it matter?
Doing more to tackle the climate crisis is a scientific necessity to avoid devastating impacts. It is also an ideal way to re-start the European economy and create sustainable jobs in local industries. The European Commission has proposed a recovery package of over €1 trillion. Over 1.3 million people and 150 organisations want this package to be green and just, boosting sustainable sectors. At the same time, EU climate policy needs to be brought in line with science, starting with increasing the 2030 target to 65% emissions reductions. Stronger climate policy and massive investments in the right sectors should come together to ensure a resilient, fair, climate-neutral and sustainable EU future economy. 

Imke Lübbeke, head of climate and energy at WWF European Policy Office said:
"The EU is ready to invest massively in our economic recovery. By doing so alongside higher climate targets and a climate law grounded in science, the EU can create good jobs, tackle the climate emergency, and build a safer, healthier society."

"President Michel's recent proposal on the EU budget is a good step but still too small: the 'do no harm' principle must be operationalised by using the taxonomy criteria and applied to the whole package, and the climate spending target increased further", said Lübbeke.

What exactly does WWF want to see?

On green recovery
- A minimum environment and climate spending target in the whole package that is significantly higher than the current 25%, aiming for 50%. The spending should be tracked using the EU taxonomy, which identifies sustainable activities.
- A 'do no harm' principle applied to the entire package and implemented using the eligibility criteria of the EU taxonomy, meaning Member States cannot invest in gas or other fossil fuels, nor in unsustainable activities such as new airports and motorways, or intensive agriculture. See WWF's letter to EU heads of state and government.
- Full consistency with EU environmental targets (including the soon-to-be increased 2030 climate target and recently adopted 2030 Biodiversity Strategy) and national plans (National Energy and Climate Plans, territorial Just Transition Plans, Operational Programmes). 
- Access to the proposed 'Recovery and resilience facility' - that is, EU funds for countries' national recovery plans - should comply with the above requirements.
More 

On the EU climate law
- An emissions reduction target for 2030 of at least 65%, excluding carbon dioxide removal by sinks.
- The scrapping or changing by 2021 of any EU policies that aren't consistent with the EU's climate objectives.
- An independent expert EU climate body to advise on and suggest further improvements to EU climate policy approaches and plans and to report on their consistency with EU climate goals
- A ban on all fossil fuel subsidies, advertising and sponsorshipMore

Contact:
Imke Lübbeke
Head of Climate & Energy
iluebbeke@wwf.eu 

Sarah Azau (Climate)
Media manager
sazau@wwf.eu 
+32 473 573 137
Posted: July 13, 2020, 12:00 am
Global temperatures likely to significantly increase over the next five years, says World Meterological Organization. © Shutterstock(9 July 2020) – The global annual mean global temperature is likely to be at least 1°C above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900) in each of the coming five years (2020-2024), according to new climate predictions issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) today.
 
They said there was a 20% chance that it will exceed 1.5°C in at least one year.
The earth's average temperature is already over 1˚C above the pre-industrial period. The last five-year period (2015 – 2019) has been the warmest five years on record. 


WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update "shows the enormous challenge ahead in meeting the Paris Agreement target of keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2˚C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5˚C." He said governments should embrace climate action as part of recovery programmes and "ensure that we grow back better".


Responding to the WMO announcement, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, global leader of WWF's climate and energy practice, said: "The sobering climate outlook for the next five years, released today by the World Meteorological Organization, clearly outlines the scale of the climate challenge we face.
 
"Leaders must take advantage of the economic stimulus and recovery plans being formulated now to include bold measures to address climate change. The opportunity to transform key sectors, reinforce new behaviours and move to a 1.5℃ aligned future requires us to act now. All elements of the plans must be climate friendly and environmentally sustainable."
 
Highlights from the Global Annual Decadal Update report:
  • Annual global temperature is likely to be at least 1°C warmer than preindustrial levels (defined as the 1850-1900 average) in each of the coming 5 years and is very likely to be within the range 0.91 – 1.59°C
  • There is a ~70% chance that one or more months during the next 5 years will be at least 1.5°C warmer than preindustrial levels
  • There is a ~20% chance that one of the next 5 years will be at least 1.5°C warmer than preindustrial levels, but the chance is increasing with time
  • It is extremely unlikely (~3%) that the 5 year mean temperature for 2020-2024 will be 1.5°C warmer than preindustrial levels
  • Over 2020-2024, almost all regions, except parts of the southern oceans, are likely to be warmer than the recent past
  • Over 2020-2024, high latitude regions and the Sahel are likely to be wetter than the recent past whereas northern and eastern parts of South America are likely to be dryer
  • Over 2020-2024, sea-level pressure anomalies suggest that the northern North Atlantic region could have stronger westerly winds leading to more storms in western Europe
  • In 2020, large land areas in the Northern Hemisphere are likely to be over 0.8°C warmer than the recent past (defined as the 1981-2010 average)
  • In 2020, the Arctic is likely to have warmed by more than twice as much as the global mean
  • The smallest temperature change is expected in the tropics and in the mid-latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere
  • In 2020, many parts of South America, southern Africa and Australia are likely to be dryer than the recent past
 
For further information, contact Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwfint.org
 
Posted: July 9, 2020, 12:00 am
Aeroplane © Flickr / George Tan 2The EU hydrogen strategy, published today, risks delaying industrial decarbonisation by keeping the door wide open for fossil fuels such as gas. The strategy claims the priority is renewable hydrogen, yet immediately belies this claim by saying 'low-carbon' hydrogen - that is, hydrogen produced by gas with carbon capture and storage - is an option until at least 2030. This will delight the gas industry and some Member States, but is a disaster for EU climate action. 
 
What's more, the strategy does not consider the overall impact of producing hydrogen on the environment, water and biodiversity. It is critical that this is taken into account, or the production even of "renewable" hydrogen may not be properly sustainable.
 
Camille Maury, Industrial Decarbonisation Officer at WWF European Policy Office said: 
"The strategy gives a free pass to new gas - which would completely undermine the EU's climate neutrality target. Member States must ensure that their national strategies only allow hydrogen from excess renewables to be used. They also need to ensure hydrogen production does no harm to the environment, or the medicine could be as harmful as the illness."
 
The strategy also fails to give priority to energy efficiency and electrification, which are more efficient and low-cost ways of decarbonising. Nor does it clarify the rules and responsibilities surrounding future hydrogen infrastructure. However it does prioritise the use of hydrogen for certain sectors where electrification is difficult - such as energy intensive sectors, aviation or shipping - which in WWF's view is crucial.
 
Finally, WWF considers it disgraceful that the European Commission only invited two environmental civil society organisations - with 24 hours' notice - to join the 'Clean Hydrogen Alliance' launch. The Alliance is a group launching today to push forward the use of hydrogen, and define projects for funding. This should be rectified in future alliances, such as those announced on raw materials and low-carbon technologies announced in the EU Industrial Strategy in March 2020. 
 
More information: 
The hydrogen strategy is part of the EU Smart System Integration Strategy.Contact:
Camille Maury
Policy Officer, Decarbonisation of Industry
cmaury@wwf.eu 
+32 495 42 00 49
 
Sarah Azau
Media manager
sazau@wwf.eu
+32 473 57313
Posted: July 8, 2020, 12:00 am
Snowy owl and gas pipeline © Chris Linder / WWF-USWhat's happening?
On 8 July the European Commission will publish the EU's first hydrogen strategy. The strategy is part of the plan to decarbonise industry - one of the aims of the EU Green Deal. The European Commission published its overarching industrial strategy in March, but this did not yet do enough to define how fully clean hydrogen would be produced and used, in WWF's view.
 
Why does it matter?
The climate emergency, and the EU commitment to climate neutrality, mean industry must decarbonise. However for some energy intensive sectors, like basic chemicals, steel and paper, high energy density is required for production, meaning electrification is not the solution. This is where hydrogen can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provided it is produced through sustainable wind and solar energy. 
 
What is WWF calling for?
  • A clear definition of 'clean hydrogen', which means no fossil fuels, including gas, or nuclear. 
  • Funding to go to renewable hydrogen projects and infrastructure only
  • Priority to electrification and energy efficiency over hydrogen to decarbonise all sectors by 2040
  • Renewable hydrogen to be used only by sectors which cannot achieve decarbonisation otherwise, eg steel, basic chemicals, aviation, shipping, heavy good vehicles
  • Define clear sustainability criteria and processes for import-export which account for the carbon and environmental footprint of traded hydrogen as well as its environmental impact (water, land use)
  • Clarify governance of future hydrogen infrastructure and set in law
Camille Maury, Industrial Decarbonisation Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office said:
"Hydrogen is not a one-size-fits-all solution for decarbonisation, but it can be a useful piece in the jigsaw if done right. This means using only zero carbon hydrogen - produced by excess renewable electricity - and using it only in sectors where it is really needed, like energy intensive industries, but always prioritising electrification and energy savings." 
 
Erika Bellmann, climate and energy policy adviser at WWF Germany said: 
"The German National Hydrogen Strategy makes the mistake of planning for small amounts of hydrogen - the envisioned 5 GW in electrolysis in 2030 is only a fraction of the hydrogen needed to decarbonize energy intensive industries, especially basic chemicals and steel. The EU commission must work with national governments to ensure sufficient hydrogen is available to decarbonise European industry by 2040 at the latest"
 
The strategy will also set up a 'hydrogen alliance', probably made up of companies, researchers, NGOs and governments, to help push forward the use of hydrogen. WWF considers that the alliance must be put together in a transparent way and include civil society from the start. 
 
"Citizens overwhelmingly want a sustainable and clean future. And creating a credible alliance of stakeholders is key for the hydrogen strategy to be successful. This also means involving civil society in the hydrogen alliance is critical to ensure it helps, not hinders, our path to climate neutrality", said Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate & Energy at WWF European Policy Office. 
 
Contact:
Camille Maury
Policy Officer, Decarbonisation of Industry
cmaury@wwf.eu 
+32 495 42 00 49
 
Sarah Azau
Media manager
sazau@wwf.eu
+32 473 57313
Posted: July 7, 2020, 12:00 am
A village in Bulgaria, in a coal region where a just transition to climate neutrality is critical © WWF Greece / Marianna PlomaritiThis is despite gas being excluded in the European Commission's original proposal, and both EU Member States and the EU Committee of the Regions opposing gas in the Just Transition Fund. 

Not only would the position adopted today permit retrofits to existing gas infrastructure, but it could also permit the massive expansion of completely new fossil gas infrastructure.

"Gas is a dead-end on the road to a just and climate-neutral Europe. Throwing money at it risks worsening climate change, creating no lasting jobs, and wasting billions of Euros which could be invested in job-friendly, sustainable wind and solar power", commented Katie Treadwell, Energy Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office. 

"The Parliament must correct today's mistake in September in plenary, and align its position on the Just Transition Fund with its green rhetoric. They must vote for a Just Transition Fund which allows regions to leap forward: this means they must vote to exclude all fossil fuels, without exception," added Treadwell.

Fossil gas has no role as a transitional fuel. Investments in renewable energy are often cheaper, especially when considered over the longer term, and pose no risk of stranded assets. New fossil gas infrastructure is inconsistent with carbon budgets that would limit global temperature rises to 1.5 and it can even accelerate climate change versus coal, because methane emissions are 86 times more potent as warming gases than CO2. Renewable energy furthermore has higher job creation potential, generating over twice as many jobs as fossil investment.

More information:
Letter from 60+ NGOs on the dangers of allowing gas in the Just Transition Fund

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: July 6, 2020, 12:00 am
Green Recovery Dialogues © WWFThe global food system proved itself surprisingly adaptable in responding to the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic – but disruptions to supply chains and lost income are now set to push an additional 150 million people worldwide into food poverty and imperil the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to a panel of food policy experts speaking on a webinar organised by WWF, the OECD and the Environmental Defense Fund.

"My first reaction was that this is going to cause a food crisis," said Agnes Kalibata, the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit and President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), in response to the combinations of lockdowns and supply chain disruption triggered by the pandemic.

However, action by governments to designate agriculture as an essential industry, combined with entrepreneurial responses among food producers and distributors – often supported by digital technology – helped ensure that agricultural supply chains kept operating, albeit with localised price rises.

"I don't want to discount the disruptions, but firms adapted and changed the way they were operating," agreed Lee Ann Jackson, Head of the Agro-food Trade and Markets Division in the Trade and Agriculture Directorate at the OECD. She added that "co-ordination mechanisms" put in place after the food price crisis in 2007-08 helped policymakers respond and avoid export restrictions that could have exacerbated supply chain stresses.

However, the food system before the pandemic was not meeting the world's needs, argued Francesco Branca, Director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at the World Health Organization (WHO). "COVID-19 exposed the fragility of our current food systems," which result in one in three people around the world suffering from some form of malnutrition.

He added that, as well as increasing food poverty, the economic effects of the pandemic will mean that an additional 7 million children around the world will suffer from wasting, in addition to the 47 million already defined as dangerously thin for their height.

"Societies have been tone-deaf to the warning signs, and the problems around [our food systems and its impacts on human and environmental health] are not new," said João Campari, Global Food Practice Leader at WWF International. "The COVID-19 pandemic has merely highlighted the fragility of the system."

However, Branca added that the pandemic has "opened a window of opportunity" to address this fragility. For example, he called for revisions to agricultural subsidies to incentivise the production of sustainable, safe, healthy and nutritious food. He also called for policies to strengthen the regionalisation and localisation of food systems and supply chains.

Branca also called for the business community to better measure the "true cost of food", taking into account externalities – the environmental and social costs incurred by food production and distribution that are not borne by producers or consumers.

From the point of view of finance and investment, Suzanne Gaboury, Chief Investment Officer at FinDev Canada, a development finance institution, observed a need for innovation and new thinking about investment opportunities in localised food supply chains.

"I'm hoping that the next phase of building resilience beyond COVID will create new partnerships and investment opportunities," she said. As examples, she gave the need for investment in more sustainable inputs such as fertilizers, and new, climate-resilient crop varieties, as well as in digitalisation to help connect buyers and sellers.

"There is an increasing theme around digitalisation and the role of technology," said Diane Holdorf, Managing Director of Food and Nature at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), noting that, when lockdowns were introduced and existing supply chains were disrupted, "all of a sudden ecommerce started to pop up, connecting farmers to consumers who are locked in their homes ... creating these direct digital interactions. These opportunities started to proliferate without a guided effort."

She said that lessons learning from that process of digitalisation could be applied to "everything from transparency and traceability to market engagement and consumer direct engagement" around more healthy and sustainable food systems.

Providing the bottom of the food supply chain with the capital it will need will be challenging, Gaboury added, as it is considered by financiers and insurers as relatively high risk, necessitating public-private partnerships to reduce risks that the private sector is not prepared to bear alone.

However, she added that: "I have seen a level of engagement within the international finance community and the business community that I hadn't seen before ... That is very encouraging. If you can quantify the risk, then you can actually provide financial solutions."

"Coming up with the policies and the policy environment that allows these investments will require bold action," said Kalibata. "There's a need to change the discourse around our food systems, and we will need funding if we're to get back on track with the SDGs, both from the private sector and the public sector."

 
 
Posted: July 6, 2020, 12:00 am
Fife power station, a gas turbine power plant, on the site of the former Westfield open cast coal mine, near Ballingry, Perth and Kinross, Scotland, UK. © Global Warming Images / WWFWhat's happening?
The European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development (REGI) is voting on the EU Just Transition Fund - which aims to support EU regions in their transition to climate neutrality - on 6 July. They have the chance to follow the EU Council, which last week agreed to fully exclude fossil fuels from funding. The Parliament voted to exclude fossil fuels from EU regional funds in March 2019. Yet despite this, there is a potential unholy alliance between the ECR, EPP and Renew to push for a big loophole which would allow some gas power and infrastructure to get funding. 

62 NGOs including WWF and Climate Action Network Europe are today sending an open letter to all MEPs in the committee, urging them to vote against including gas in the Fund.

Why does it matter?
The gas industry is pushing hard for Just Transition Fund money. This 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 in 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.

What do WWF and CAN Europe 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
  3. Encourage and enable effective partnerships by supporting transparency and meaningful engagement, including with civil society, local governments and trade unions
Katie Treadwell, Energy Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office said:
"The gas industry has been fighting tooth and nail to claw off money that's meant for Europe's vulnerable communities. Despite this, the EU Council agreed last week to exclude all fossil fuels from the Just Transition Fund. The European Parliament must close its ears to the gas lobbies and do the same, or they will be nobbling the EU just transition from the get-go."

Markus Trilling, finance and subsidies policy coordinator at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said:
"The just transition fund must serve communities impacted by the much needed transition to climate neutrality, not provide a lifeline to climate-harmful fossil gas. Switching from fossils to renewables and energy savings is the only way forward to limit temperature increase to  1.5°c, as  the Paris Agreement requires."

Despite the Council's final position against fossil fuels, such is the contention surrounding this issue that it abandoned its first attempts to agree, when the file was reopened by some of the CEE and Baltic countries who wanted it to finance fossil gas.

Following the REGI Committee vote, a plenary vote is expected in September. 

Contact:

WWF

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

CAN Europe

Nicolas Derobert
Head of communications
CAN Europe  
nicolas@caneurope.org
+32 483 62 18 8
Posted: July 2, 2020, 12:00 am
Clear Skies to Clean Air © WWFAs many large cities around the world emerge from lockdown, city authorities need to act decisively to prevent air pollution rebounding and even exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels, said participants on a webinar discussing efforts to control air pollution. The improvements in air quality seen during the COVID-19 lockdown have shown individuals and policymakers what is possible regarding air pollution and could open the door to reinvigorated efforts to address pollution.

"Around the world, we've been astounded in some places by the dramatic improvement in air quality that have resulted from the response to COVID-19," said Sarah Vogel, Vice President for Health at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). "While it's come from an artificial and temporary brake on the global economy, it's drawn renewed attention to the devasting impacts of outdoor air pollution."

Vogel was moderating a webinar, held on 26 June by the OECD, WWF and the EDF, in collaboration with the World Bank, entitled "Clear Skies to Clean Air". The event formed part of the Friday Series for a Green and Healthy Recovery.  

Speaking at the webinar, Karin Kemper, Global Director, Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy Global Practice at the World Bank, catalogued some of those impacts: 7 million deaths from air pollution each year; a cost to the global economy of around $5.7 trillion in 2016 alone; a disproportionate effect on the poor; and the exacerbation of susceptibility to COVID-19.

"Fortunately, the evidence shows that there are many actions and measures we can take to improve air quality," said Rodolfo Lacy, Director for the Environment Directorate at the OECD. The pandemic, he said, "has demonstrated the potential for targeted mitigation efforts to generate rapid and significant improvements, and the accompanying economic benefits in terms of improved health are quite relevant."

He added that the OECD has a number of policy recommendations in this area: that existing air pollution regulations are enforced; that any COVID-19 responses do not worsen air quality issues; that road space is reallocated to pedestrians and cyclists; low-emission zones in cities should be expanded; and air quality monitoring networks should be extended and upgraded.

"One of the things about air pollution is that is really lends itself to policy interventions," Kemper added. In addition to the OECD recommendations, she recommended policies that aim to reduce emissions of black carbon – which has the added benefit of helping to mitigate climate change – and the removal of subsidies on fossil fuels, which currently amount to $4.7 trillion each year, or 6.5% of global GDP.

"This may be the moment, when fossil fuels are naturally cheap, to repurpose subsidies and use them for other things, such as in the health sector, or education," she said.

"Finally, carbon pricing and pollution charges are really important," she added, noting that the World Bank has been working with Mexico and Colombia to design carbon pricing systems.

Daniel Calleja Crespo, Director General for Environment for the European Commission spoke about the massive "Next Generation EU" Plan, to ensure the economic recovery from COVID-19 is sustainable, even, inclusive and fair for all member states. To repair and prepare for the next generation, the Commission will issue 30-year bonds totaling 750 billion euros, for investing in energy efficiency in buildings and infrastructure, renewable energy development and storage, carbon capture and sequestration, biodiversity and health. He said, "This plan is based on the 'Green Oath,' which abides by the principle, 'do no harm.' This plan will create resilience and a circular economy for future generations."

The new plan goes farther than its previously announced European Green Deal. This growth strategy transforms the EU into a modern, resource-efficient, cleaner and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, economic growth is decoupled from resource use, and no person and no place is left behind.

The webinar also heard from policymakers on the front lines of addressing air pollution: Claudia López, Mayor of Bogota, Colombia; and Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor of London, with responsibility for environment and energy.

López explained how Bogota has responded to the pandemic by accelerating existing efforts to encourage low-carbon and cleaner forms of urban transport, such as adding an additional 80 km of cycle lanes to the existing 560 km network and making greater provision for pedestrians.

"This is not going to be temporary – we're going to take advantage of the pandemic to speak more to this agenda for clean and green transportation," she said.

She also noted the importance of working cooperatively with adjacent local authorities: "We won't be able to achieve our goals if surrounding municipalities don't share our vision and our goals, because air doesn't recognise administrative boundaries." Similarly, clean transit systems need to be built at the regional level if they are to be effective, she added.

Cities also need devolved powers if they are to address local air pollution, argued Rodrigues: "We can't have a centralised approach ... Citizens deal with their local authorities, majors know what is needed in their cities. Devolving powers, alongside funding, is absolutely critical so we can push the electrification agenda and the reclamation of roads, so we can avoid a car-based recovery."

As well as discussing ongoing efforts that London has been making to encourage cycling and walking, Rodrigues also described how the city has been working with EDF to develop "hyper-local" monitoring to better understand how pollution is disproportionately affecting low-income communities. "Unless you have the data to really understand where the hotspots of pollution and hotspots of inequality [overlap], you can't target your resources and your efforts."
Posted: June 29, 2020, 12:00 am
Bialowieza, one of Europe's last virgin forests © Tomasz WilkOn the one hand, the call for the 'do no harm' principle to be applied to all elements of the recovery package was a common thread among Member States along with broad support for the EU Biodiversity Strategy as a central element of the post COVID-19 recovery process. However, Member States fell below the mark when it came to the Climate Law. 

"Environment ministers voiced their broad support for the need to step-up action to protect and restore Europe's nature through the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy. This overall support must become a concrete endorsement in October when ministers will adopt conclusions on the strategy." said Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at WWF European Policy Office. "Environment ministers have some lobbying of their own to do to convince the Heads of States to ensure at least €20 billion per year will be mobilised for the implementation of the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy. Several ministers were clear on this - it's an investment that not only benefits nature, but our society as a whole."

Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate & Energy, WWF European Policy Office Senior Policy Officer said
"We're staring down the barrel of another heatwave in much of Europe, and yet when it comes to stopping runaway climate change, EU ministers are happy to sit on their hands. While seven Member States* called for the EU to increase its 2030 emissions reduction target from 40% to 55%,this is way off the 65% that science demands, and the majority were shamefully silent. What's more, other crucial features that are needed  in the climate law, like an independent expert advisory body, weren't even mentioned."

*These were Finland, Austria, Luxembourg, Latvia, Denmark, Estonia and Sweden

For further information:
Sarah Azau
Media & Communications Manager
+32 473 57 31 37

Edel Shanahan
Communications Officer for Biodiversity & Agriculture
+ 32 484 49 35 15
Posted: June 23, 2020, 12:00 am
Peacock butterfly (Inachis io) has a most admirable set of defenses against predation from birds and rodents. The eyespots, which resemble an owl when viewed upside down, are flashed at any inquisitive bird. Any would be attacker is giving even greater cause for concern from the loud grating noise produced by the rasping of the forewings. Innsbruck, Austria © Anton Vorauer / WWFWhat's happening?
On 23 June, EU environment ministers are meeting informally via video conference in order to discuss the 'contribution of environmental and climate policies to the recovery from Covid-19'. They will focus on the draft EU Climate Law and the 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy, as well as on the Circular Economy Action Plan. 

Why does it matter?
The Climate Law proposal and the Biodiversity Strategy are important, but not at present enough to deliver the just and green recovery that EU citizens want, and that our planet needs. The Climate Law proposal needs to be strengthened significantly by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers, while the Biodiversity Strategy needs strong political endorsement from Member States and a commitment to its full implementation. 

What does WWF want to see?

On the EU climate law
  • An emissions reduction target for 2030 of at least 65%, excluding carbon dioxide removal by sinks.
  • The scrapping or changing by 2021 of any EU policies that aren't consistent with the EU's climate objectives.
  • An independent expert EU climate body to advise on and suggest further improvements to EU climate policy approaches and plans and to report on their consistency with EU climate goals
  • A ban on all fossil fuel subsidies, advertising and sponsorship
On the 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy

This will be the first meeting of environment ministers since the announcement of the 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy where they will share their initial thoughts. The strategy is a potential game-changer for nature, food and farming policies and must be supported by ministers if we are to bring Europe's nature back. In particular, ministers must: 
  • Strongly endorse and commit to implement the Biodiversity Strategy. 
  • Be explicit in support for the targets to legally protect a minimum of 30% of the EU's land and 30% of the EU's sea area and support the strict protection of at least one third of these areas.
  • Support legally binding EU nature restoration targets to restore degraded ecosystems that will contribute to solving both the biodiversity and climate crises.
  • Highlight the fact that the Biodiversity Strategy was largely omitted from the EU recovery package and call for sufficient investments in nature protection and restoration. A clear spending target for climate and environment of at least 50% in both the recovery package and the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) is needed.
Imke Lübbeke, head of climate and energy at WWF European Policy Office said:
"The EU climate law could be a milestone in our fight against climate change. If done right it will ensure that all EU policies need to align with our climate targets. Environment ministers have a unique chance to create a science-based law that leads the way globally, that ensures consistent actions across the economy - and that kicks out coal, oil and gas for good."

Sabien Leemans, Senior Policy Officer for Biodiversity at WWF European Policy Office said 
"In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the Biodiversity Strategy sent a clear message - a healthy planet is a precondition for a healthy human society. However, this message was quickly forgotten in the recovery package proposal just a week later. Ministers must bring this message back by being vocal about the need to invest in nature through the recovery package by allocating 50% of it to climate and environment."

More information:
The two questions that ministers have been invited by the Croatian EU Presidency to discuss are:
1. How can measures from recently presented initiatives of the European Green Deal,
such as the Circular Economy Action Plan and the Biodiversity Strategy, most
effectively contribute to the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and help to build
resilience and create a more sustainable and future-proof Europe?

2. How can the implementation of the recovery plan ensure a stable and forward-looking
investment environment that generates green growth and jobs, thus keeping the EU on
the right track towards the objective of achieving a climate-neutral Europe by 2050?

Contact:
Edel Shanahan (Biodiversity)
Junior Communications Officer, 
WWF European Policy Office
eshanahan@wwf.eu 
+ 32 484 49 35 15

Sarah Azau (Climate)
Media manager
WWF European Policy Office
sazau@wwf.eu 
+32 473 573 13
Posted: June 22, 2020, 12:00 am