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The latest climate change news from WWF

15 January 2020 - With a large majority and cross-party support, the EU Parliament today backed the European Green Deal proposed by the Commission in December, and demanded higher ambition. On several key issues, such as biodiversity, deforestation, oceans and agriculture, Parliament called on the Commission to go beyond the commitments currently set out in its Communication

"With this resolution, MEPs have raised the bar for the European Commission to urgently present a whole range of concrete proposals that should amount to genuine transformational change," said Ester Asin, Director of the WWF European Policy Office.
 
"It is now up to Member States to take forward the suggested Green Deal improvements from the European Parliament Resolution in their Council negotiations. For CEE countries, the upgrades brought forward by the Parliament are an opportunity to secure the protection and restoration of the valuable natural resources of the region, ensuring that the same adequate funding is available." – WWF Central and Eastern Europe

In particular, WWF welcomes Parliament's calls for ambitious and enforceable legal measures and binding targets on protection and restoration in the upcoming 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, including a binding target to expand the network of Marine Protected Areas to at least 30%, and for infringement procedures against Member States failing to not respect EU nature laws.

With agriculture continuing to be the key driver for biodiversity loss in the EU, WWF also supports Parliament's call to ensure full alignment of the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform proposals with the EU's increased environmental, climate, and biodiversity commitments set out in the European Green Deal.

"The demand for legally binding targets on a number of policies from the Green Deal package are crucial for achieving the level of ambition that the Green Deal is set out to achieve. WWF-CEE supports the call for such legally binding targets in order to ensure we have the necessary measures in place to bend the curve on nature loss and protect the Greed Heart of Europe." – WWF Central and Eastern Europe
 
Parliament also once again confirmed its support for a climate law with a legally binding target for reaching climate neutrality at the latest by 2050. It called for the law to include intermediate EU targets, including the previously endorsed 55% target for 2030, and to be complemented by a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 at EU and national levels.

WWF also welcomes Parliament's calls for:
  • A comprehensive financing plan which well exceeds the conservative figure of EUR 260 billion annually stated by the Commission, which does not consider the investment needs for climate adaptation and for other environmental challenges such as biodiversity, or the public investment needed to address social costs;
  • The full integration of the "blue" dimension as a key element of the Green Deal, fully recognising the ecosystem services oceans provide by developing an "Oceans and Aquaculture Action Plan;"
  • The establishment of ambitious and binding biodiversity spending and climate mainstreaming targets in the 2021-2027 EU budget which go beyond the levels of targeted spending shares as set out in Parliament's Interim Report (i.e. going beyond 30%);
  • The role of nature-based solutions in helping Member States to reach their GHG emission reductions and biodiversity objectives.
  • The placement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals at the centre of the EU's policy-making process and implementation, and the fulfilment of Scenario 1 of the Reflection Paper Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030 requiring, inter alia, that a sustainability first principle is integrated into the Better Regulation Agendas of the EU and its Member States;
  • An ambitious new circular economy action plan, which must aim to reduce the total environmental and resource footprint of EU production and consumption, as well as the establishment of an EU-level target for resource-efficiency; and
  • Designated binding national targets for each Member State set through revised Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Directives.
Source: http://www.wwf.eu/?uNewsID=358254
 
Posted: January 17, 2020, 12:00 am
Despite extreme events such as forest fires, heatwaves, flooding & more becoming more commonplace as a result of #NatureLoss & the #ClimateCrisis, world leaders still aren't taking bold action for our home.  © Rohan Kelly15 January 2020 (Davos) - According to the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2020, released today, the top five biggest challenges facing the world over the next decade are, for the first time, all related to the environment.
 
The report, based on a survey of more than 750 decision-makers from across business, governments and charities, found that of all the risks facing the world this year, failure to take action on climate change, biodiversity loss, extreme weather, natural disasters and human-made environmental disasters are seen as the most likely to happen. Failure to take action on climate change, biodiversity loss, extreme weather and water crises were also seen as among the top five risks in terms of the enormity of their possible impact.
 
WWF seconds the report's findings, which clearly indicate that the emergency facing our environment is rightly at the forefront of the minds of many of the world's most influential people, and that urgent change is needed to protect our planet. Human activity has already caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants – which underpin our food and health systems.
 
"This report demonstrates that leaders are finally recognising the catastrophic threats facing the planet and our future - but they still need to actUnless urgent action is taken, risks related to climate change and loss of nature have the potential to harm millions of people, destabilise the global economy which relies on nature for services worth USD$125 trillion every year, and leave businesses - and the communities and economies that depend on them - vulnerable to collapse. We ignore these risks at our peril." - Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF-International
 
In 2020, governments have the opportunity to step up their commitments to the Paris Agreement on Climate, renew their commitments to the environment under the Sustainable Development Goals, agree a new global biodiversity framework and negotiate the world's first ever treaty to protect ocean life on the high seas. 
 
To avoid environmental and human catastrophe, WWF and its partners are calling on world leaders to commit to a New Deal for Nature and People this year which aims to halt nature loss and set nature on the path to recovery by 2030.
 
"The Climate Change Adaptation Strategy of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) issued in 2019 highlighted some of the expected risks to the economy and ecosystems stemming from climate change, exacerbated by unsustainable land use," says Irene Lucius, Regional Conservation Director, WWF Central and Eastern Europe. "For example, the habitats and ecosystems in the South-eastern Danube River Basin and on the Great Hungarian Plain are likely to become drier and more wildfires might occur. In different parts of the basin, scientists expect a higher risk of algal blooms and deteriorating water quality in lakes and wetlands. Agricultural pests and diseases might increase and so will the need for costly irrigation. Forests may be impacted by an increasing risk of damage from forest-weakening pests (e.g. bark beetle). However, nature-based solutions can at least partially mitigate such risks. Floodplain restoration can mitigate flood risk and give a boost to biodiversity. Restoring natural forests raises resilience to fire and pests while increasing the capacity of storing carbon. This is why WWF Central and Eastern Europe is calling for a massive investment programme in nature-based solutions as an element of the New Deal for Nature and People."
 
Severe threats to our climate account for all of the Global Risks Report's top long-term risks, with "economic confrontations" and "domestic political polarisation" recognised as significant short-term risks in 2020. It warns that geopolitical turbulence and the retreat from multilateralism threatens everyone's ability to tackle shared, critical global risks. Without urgent attention to repairing societal divisions and driving sustainable economic growth, leaders cannot systemically address threats like the climate or biodiversity crises, the report warns.
 
Read the full report here
 
The report sounds the alarm on:
1. Extreme weather events with major damage to property, infrastructure and loss of human life;
2. Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation by governments and businesses;
3. Human-made environmental damage and disasters, including environmental crime, such as oil spills, and radioactive contamination;
4. Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse (terrestrial or marine) with irreversible consequences for the environment, resulting in severely depleted resources for humankind as well as industries; and
5. Major natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and geomagnetic storms.
 
To younger generations, the state of the planet is even more alarming. The report highlights how risks are seen by those born after 1980. They ranked environmental risks higher than other respondents, both in the short- and long-terms. Almost 90% of these respondents believe "extreme heat waves," "destruction of ecosystems" and "health impacted by pollution" will be aggravated in 2020; compared to 77%, 76% and 67% respectively for other generations. They also believe that the impact from environmental risks by 2030 will be more catastrophic and more likely.
 
The report adds that unless stakeholders adapt to "today's epochal power-shift" and geopolitical turbulence – while still preparing for the future – time will run out to address some of the most pressing economic, environmental and technological challenges. This signals where action by business and policy-makers is most needed.
 
"The political landscape is polarised, sea levels are rising and climate fires are burning. This is the year when world leaders must work with all sectors of society to repair and reinvigorate our systems of cooperation, not just for short-term benefit but for tackling our deep-rooted risks," said Borge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum.
 
Peter Giger, Group Chief Risk Officer, Zurich Insurance Group warned of the urgent need to adapt faster to avoid the worst and irreversible impacts of climate change and to do more to protect the planet's biodiversity: "Biologically diverse ecosystems capture vast amounts of carbon and provide massive economic benefits that are estimated at $33 trillion per year – the equivalent to the GDP of the US and China combined. It's critical that companies and policy-makers move faster to transition to a low carbon economy and more sustainable business models. We are already seeing companies destroyed by failing to align their strategies to shifts in policy and customer preferences. Transitionary risks are real, and everyone must play their part to mitigate them. It's not just an economic imperative; it is simply the right thing to do."
 
For more information:
Irene Lucius
Regional Conservation Director,
WWF Central and Eastern Europe
ilucius@wwfcee.org

Background
Respondents were asked to assess: (1) the likelihood of a global risk occurring over the course of the next 10 years, and (2) the severity of its impact at a global level if it were to occur.
 
These are the top 5 risks by likelihood over the next 10 years:
1. Extreme weather events (e.g. floods, storms, etc.);
2. Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation;
3. Major natural disasters (e.g. earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, geomagnetic storms);
4. Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse; and
5. Human-made environmental damage and disasters.
 
These are the top 5 risks by severity of impact over the next 10 years:
1. Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation;
2. Weapons of mass destruction;
3. Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse;
4. Extreme weather events (e.g. floods, storms, etc.); and
5. Water crises.
 
The Global Risks Report is part of the Global Risks Initiative which brings stakeholders together to develop sustainable, integrated solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. The Global Risks Report 2020 has been developed with the invaluable support of the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Advisory Board. It also benefits from ongoing collaboration with its Strategic Partners Marsh & McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group and its academic advisers at the Oxford Martin School (University of Oxford), the National University of Singapore and the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center (University of Pennsylvania).
Posted: January 16, 2020, 12:00 am
The Niederaussem coal-fired (lignite) power plant, near Cologne in North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany.  © Andrew Kerr / WWFGLAND, Switzerland (16 January 2020) – The German government announced it will phase out coal power plants by 2038. But this is not enough to match what science says we need to do – halve global emissions by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2050 – nor does it go far enough in terms of the European Union's plans to increase its climate targets, says WWF-Germany.

The Government reached agreement with federal states with lignite regions and operators on a timetable for shutting down their lignite plants. Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, is a soft, brown, combustible, sedimentary rock formed from naturally compressed peat. It is considered the lowest rank of coal due to its relatively low heat content. [1]

Michael Schäfer, Head of Climate and Energy Policy at WWF Germany, says: "The timetable agreed is unacceptable, and also incompatible with the recommendations of the German Coal Commission. We will now lobby massively for additional coal phase-out instruments such as a European regional minimum CO2 price in the electricity sector.

"The phase-out of aging coal power plants in Germany has been postponed many times over the years, even as a new coal power plant will be connected to the grid contrary to the German Coal Commission's recommendations. This is disastrous for the climate crisis.

"This is an poor signal to send to the world, just a day after the World Meteorological Organisation announced the past five years were the warmest ever, and 2019 the second warmest year on record. 2020 is the year of implementation, the year we are supposed to step up our climate action and deliver new ambitious climate protection targets and measures. Instead, we see the energy transition in Germany is being slowed down.

"We have to have a reality check about the climate crisis. There is no time to delay real emissions reduction actions further."

Notes to Editors:
[1] https://www.americangeosciences.org/critical-issues/faq/what-are-the-different-types-of-coal

For further info and interviews, contact Julian Philipp at Julian.Philipp@wwf.de

ends
Posted: January 16, 2020, 12:00 am
Croatian river © Pixabay / thalespaz

At the CBD COP 15, a global biodiversity framework to 2030 will be agreed. Today's resolution calls for the EU to lead the way at the COP in a global legally binding agreement to bend the curve of biodiversity loss by 2030. It also asks for an ambitious EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy to address the main drivers of biodiversity loss, and set legally binding targets for the EU and the Member States. The resolution calls for a conservation objective of at least 30% of natural areas and an objective of restoring at least 30% of degraded ecosystems, both globally and in the EU. 

Sabien Leemans, Senior Policy Officer for Biodiversity at WWF European Policy Office:
"Credible EU leadership at COP 15 hinges on coherent domestic action. By bringing a strong EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy to the table, the EU can truly lead the way in the discussions on the  global biodiversity framework."

Furthermore, given the importance of restoring natural ecosystems for both climate and biodiversity, it is also positive that the resolution calls for an EU-wide legally binding target to restore degraded habitats by 2030, through the restoration of natural forests, peatlands, floodplains, wetlands, biodiversity rich grasslands, coastal zones and marine areas. 

Today's resolution, coupled with yesterday's vote that not only passed the European Green Deal, but upgraded it, has shown that the Parliament is fully behind the Commission's environmental ambitions and wants to raise the bar by calling for ambitious and enforceable legal measures and binding targets on nature protection and restoration in the upcoming EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy. 

"The European Parliament has given a clear signal to the Commission in support of ambitious and legally binding targets to bring nature back. The Commission must now answer the call of both the Parliament and European citizens when presenting the 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy" said Sabien Leemans, Senior Policy Officer for Biodiversity at WWF European Policy Office. "The Member States must also continue the momentum by similarly agreeing ambitious, concrete and legally binding targets for biodiversity in the June Environment Council when they discuss the 2030 global biodiversity framework."


WWF also welcomes Parliament's calls for: 

  • Improving environmental policy coherence in all internal and external policies of the EU, including in agriculture, fishing, renewable energy, transport, trade and the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021 - 2027
  • Binding and enforceable trade and sustainable development chapters in all future trade agreements
  • A clear spending target for biodiversity mainstreaming of at least 10 % in the MFF, in addition to the target for spending on climate mainstreaming
  • An increased use of EU and international climate funding to protect and restore natural ecosystems as a way of achieving shared benefits between biodiversity and climate mitigation and adaptation
  • An EU-wide binding reduction targets in the upcoming revision of the EU Directive on the sustainable use of pesticides (2009/128/EC) 
  • A comprehensive set of measures to reduce the EU's consumption footprint on land (including legislation) based on due diligence that ensures sustainable and deforestation-free supply chains for products placed on the EU market
  • Protection of old-growth and primary forests through legal and incentivising instruments targeting their complexity, connectivity and representativeness
  • The improvement, better connection and extension of all EU protected areas, including Natura 2000 sites and for more emphasis on good management, as besides the quantity, the quality of protected areas is essential to preventing biodiversity loss
  • Legal action when EU nature protection laws are not being observed and for ensuring the proper enforcement of the nature directives and follow up on complaints about breaches of legislation in a transparent way
 

Contact
Edel Shanahan
Communications Officer, Biodiversity and Agriculture
+ 32 484 49 35 15

Posted: January 16, 2020, 12:00 am
An unprecedented drought has lead to low water levels on the Murray River, resulting in the death of iconic Red Gum trees. © Global Warming Images / WWFIn response to the World Meteorological Organization's analysis that confirmed 2019 was the second warmest year on record (after 2016), Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global climate and energy practice said:

"There is no time to delay urgent action on climate change. It is no surprise that 2019 was the second hottest year on record - nature has been persistently reminding us that we have to pick up the pace. To stay on track to a 1.5°C world, we must end new coal and peak carbon emissions by 2020, cut global emissions in half by 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. In the meantime, we must define specific adaptation actions that reduce climate vulnerability for people and nature.

"Countries must update their national climate plans this year before COP26, especially those with high emissions, and submit ambitious national climate pledges aligned with science if we are to have any hope of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels."

Ends.
Posted: January 15, 2020, 12:00 am
European Parliament, Brussels © © Loic DelvaulxOn several key issues, such as biodiversity, deforestation, oceans and agriculture, Parliament called on the Commission to go beyond the commitments currently set out in its Communication. 

"With this resolution, MEPs have raised the bar for the European Commission to urgently present a whole range of concrete proposals that should amount to genuine transformational change," said Ester Asin, Director of the WWF European Policy Office. "With the Parliament's support confirmed, the ball is now in the court of Member States, who must unequivocally endorse ambitious action. Only then can Europe's 'man on the moon' moment become reality." 

In particular, WWF welcomes Parliament's calls for ambitious and enforceable legal measures and binding targets on protection and restoration in the upcoming 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, including a binding target to expand the network of Marine Protected Areas to at least 30%, and for infringement procedures against Member States failing to not respect EU nature laws.

MEPs have also urged the Commission to come forward with a proposal for a legal framework based on due diligence to ensure deforestation-free supply chains for products placed on the EU market, tackling the main drivers of imported deforestation - a law that WWF has long called for, which would also align with the European Parliament's proposed target to reduce the global ecological footprint of EU consumption and production.

With agriculture continuing to be the key driver for biodiversity loss in the EU, WWF also supports Parliament's call to ensure full alignment of the current CAP reform proposals with the EU's increased environmental, climate, and biodiversity commitments set out in the European Green Deal.

"For the sake of the climate and biodiversity, we must bring nature back and also reduce our ecological footprint both in Europe and abroad. Legally binding targets, a transition to a truly sustainable food and farming system, and a law on deforestation would all be key steps to achieve this. Commission and Member States cannot ignore these calls from MEPs when drafting policy and legislation in the coming weeks and months," said Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at WWF European Policy Office.

Parliament also once again confirmed its support for a climate law with a legally binding target for reaching climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest. It called for the law to include intermediate EU targets - including the previously endorsed 55% target for 2030 -, and to be complemented by a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 at EU and national levels.

"Ending fossil fuel subsidies is essential for a climate-neutral Europe: the European Commission must pay heed to the MEPs' position. However, while we do need to urgently increase the EU's 2030 target, 55% is far too low, and inconsistent with both the Parliament's 'climate emergency' declaration and with science, which says we need at least 65% cuts by 2030," said Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate at WWF European Policy Office.

WWF also welcomes Parliament's calls for:
  • The full integration of the "blue" dimension as a key element of the Green Deal, fully recognizing the ecosystem services oceans provides by developing an "Oceans and Aquaculture Action Plan"; 
  • The establishment of ambitious and binding biodiversity spending and climate mainstreaming targets in the 2021-2027 EU budget which go beyond the levels of targeted spending shares as set out in Parliament's Interim report (i.e. going beyond 30%);
  • The placement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals at the centre of the EU's policy-making process and implementation, and the fulfilment of Scenario 1 of the "Reflection Paper towards a sustainable Europe by 2030" requiring, inter alia, that a sustainability first principle is integrated into the Better Regulation Agendas of the EU and its Member States;
  • A comprehensive financing plan which well exceeds the conservative figure of EUR 260 billion annually stated by the Commission, which does not consider for instance the investment needs for climate adaptation and for other environmental challenges such as biodiversity, or the public investment needed to address social costs;
  • An ambitious new circular economy action plan, which must aim to reduce the total environmental and resource footprint of EU production and consumption, as well as the establishment of an EU-level target for resource-efficiency;
  • Designated binding national targets for each Member State set through revised Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Directives.
Posted: January 15, 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 / WWFThe path to a climate neutral Europe became a little easier today, with the European Commission's proposal for a fund to help regions reach climate neutrality. 

The 'just transition mechanism' aims to mobilise up to €100 billion to support workers and their communities in regions whose economies are based on carbon-intensive activities, like coal mining. 

The mechanism requires regional just transition plans to be compatible with EU climate and energy goals. This means Member States have no excuse not to sign up for climate neutrality. 

However, the mechanism is not clear enough on the need for regional plans to include timelines for the phase out of fossil fuels, including a phase-out date for coal of 2030 or earlier. MEPs and EU Member States must step-up its ambition to deliver a truly just transition.

Katie Treadwell, Energy Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office said:
"A climate neutral Europe needs everyone to play their part. The proposed just transition mechanism is an important step towards making that happen. But a 'just transition' is not 'just' if regions are locked into unviable fossil fuels. It is not a 'transition' if there is no deadline for getting climate neutral. MEPs and EU Member States must improve the proposal so that regions show how and by when they will get free from gas, oil and coal."

WWF is calling for:
1. Territorial just transition plans to be underpinned by higher ambition and timelines for fossil fuel phase out
2. Transparency and the engagement of all stakeholders to be at the heart of the just transition mechanism
3. The just transition mechanism to exclude all fossil fuel investments from each of its three pillars (see below for more explanation of the pillars)
4. Since the just transition mechanism alone will not be enough to deliver a just transition, Member States must complement it with national policy and financial support

The European Commission also published today a plan for unlocking €1 trillion of sustainable investments over ten years. The plan contains no new money and is little more than pretty packaging of an empty box in WWF's view. See WWF's reaction

More information: 

WWF's position:

WWF welcomes the proposal as a vital step forward in EU just transition policy. However, the mechanism can still be improved and Member States must complement it with their own resources. The co-legislators must now ensure there is sufficient ambition and that the mechanism is watertight to any fossil fuel investment. 

Structure of the mechanism

The mechanism consists of three pillars: a just transition fund for grants to regions in transition, an InvestEU Guarantee to leverage private investment (because it lowers investment risk) and an EIB Public Sector Loan Facility to leverage public sector investment for the just transition. 

Funding will be dependent on 'territorial just transition plans' to be developed at the smallest EU regional level ('NUTS 3 level) – one which is much more targeted than used in other cohesion policy funds and which reflects the necessity of bespoke solutions in specific regions.

The mechanism will also include the creation of a 'Just Transition Platform'. The new Platform will be able to provide technical assistance to the regions developing territorial just transition plans, in addition to facilitating the exchange of experience and the sharing of information. This process will build on the lessons from the coal platform and in this context, WWF urges the Commission and Member States to ensure  transparency and the involvement of all stakeholders throughout the transition process.

WWF's recommendations and analysis in more detail:
  1. Territorial Just Transition Plans must be underpinned by higher ambition and timelines for fossil fuel phase out
Territorial Just Transition Plans at NUTS 3 level are a real step forward in EU just transition policy. They reinforce the opportunity for just transition support to be delivered in a strategic way and allow regions to develop bespoke responses to deliver a just transition.

WWF welcomes the conditionality of EU just transition support on the approval of the plans. However, alignment with the National Energy and Climate Plans and current 2030 EU targets alone is not enough. To deliver the step change needed, regions must be able to go further. Therefore the plans must also contain timelines for fossil fuel phase-out, including a 2030 phase out date or earlier for coal.
  1. Transparency and the engagement of all stakeholders should be at the heart of the just transition mechanism
Territorial transition plans present an opportunity to ensure the meaningful engagement of all partners in the transition process. Planning and implementation must involve all stakeholders, including local community representatives and civil society. Recognition of the risks of conflicts of interest is vital, as is guidance on the roles and decision-making power of each partner. Support for this process must go further than that provided under current Cohesion Policy provisions.

The new Just Transition Platform must also give transparency the utmost importance.  Building on the lessons from the coal platform and the country team meetings, WWF urges the Commission and the Member States to ensure  transparency and the involvement of all stakeholders throughout the transition process. WWF recommends the Seven Golden Rules for Just Transition Planning as a basis for designing formal structures.

The Member States will propose regions to receive the fund following dialogue with the Commission. The fund should prioritise coal regions, but be open to support other regions which face challenges in the transition. The process of approval and of region selection should also be open and transparent.
  1. The Just Transition Mechanism must exclude all fossil fuel investments  
The just transition will not be achieved if regions are left lagging behind with fossil technology.  WWF welcomes the explicit exclusion of fossil fuel investments from the proposed just transition fund.

However, we note that investments in all fossil fuels should be excluded from all three pillars of the just transition mechanism.It is very concerning that the InvestEU element of the new proposal includes the explicit possibility to finance gas projects.

WWF strongly welcomes the recognition of the European Council's commitment to climate neutrality by 2050, but notes that fossil fuel investment, including in natural gas infrastructure, is incompatible with this goal. Sustainable economic diversification should be at the heart of all territorial just transition plans
  1. The Mechanism alone will not be enough to deliver a just transition
Only € 7.5 billion of the mechanism is new money: most of the €100 billion will come from the aspiration to mobilise national public and private investment in line with the just transition.

Member States must complement EU support for a just transition with national funds and should create enabling policy environments for investors to support the transition. WWF's recent analysis of Emissions Trading System revenue spending  illustrates how Member States could make better use of this resource to achieve EU climate and energy goals.

WWF welcomes that the just transition mechanism will be additional to the existing 25% climate mainstreaming proposed in the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework Proposal, but notes this should be higher.

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: January 14, 2020, 12:00 am
CBD COP 15 logo © Convention on Biological Diversity On 15 January, the Parliament will vote on a resolution on the Commission's communication on the European Green Deal from December 2019. This will be an opportunity for MEPs to echo the recognition of the environmental challenges the world is facing, and to push the Commission for high ambition in line with scientific evidence when preparing concrete legislative and policy proposals in key areas such as biodiversity, climate change and deforestation.

The following day, 16 January, the Parliament will vote on its resolution on the CBD COP 15 summit in October of this year. This vote is a key moment for the Parliament to show the von der Leyen Commission their support for nature protection and restoration as a top priority in the European Green Deal, alongside climate change, and for the EU to be a champion for nature protection and restoration both globally and in the EU.

What will WWF be looking out for?

Support for the European Green Deal:
Parliament must provide unequivocal support to the Commission's intention to propose a meaningful European Green Deal package within the first 100 days of its mandate. In particular, MEPs should push for higher ambition through:
  • An ambitious climate law enshrining a 2040 climate neutrality target; and increase the EU's 2030 emissions reduction target to 65% in early 2020;
  • A strong and binding target for halting biodiversity loss and restoring nature in Europe as part of the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, along with a strategy for mobilising meaningful investment from both the public and the private sector;
  • A commitment for regulatory measures for deforestation outside of Europe way beyond the proposed "promotion" of deforestation-free products, which would be insufficient for effectively reducing the massive impact of European consumption on vulnerable ecosystems;
  • A commitment for 'new money' in the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan, rather than a mere repackaging of existing initiatives; 
  • More substance on ocean recovery and resilience to climate change is required, including concrete measures for more connected and well-managed marine protected areas.
  • Far-reaching reforms of the EU's agricultural, trade, transport, energy and infrastructure investment policies, as called for in the November 2019 European Parliament resolution declaring a climate and environmental emergency.
"Now is the time for MEPs to show that Ursula von der Leyen and her team have their full support on tackling the climate and nature emergencies, and to push the Commission to ensure its rhetorics are translated into meaningful, concrete and ambitious action," said Ester Asin, Director of the European Policy Office. "The scientific recommendations can no longer be ignored: we need urgent and far-reaching transformational change, and the window for this is closing rapidly."


Parliament votes for leadership at the CBD COP 15
WWF urges the European Parliament to adopt the ambitious resolution voted in the Environment Committee last December, calling the EU to lead the way to an ambitious agreement at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15 and underlining the need for the EU's global ambition to be consistent with its domestic action.

Here are some of the  important elements the resolution calls for:
  • The need for a global legally binding agreement to protect global biodiversity and for a strengthened implementation mechanism of the CBD. 
  • An ambitious EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, moving away from voluntary commitments and setting legally binding targets for the EU and the Member States.
  • A target for at least 30% of natural areas on land and sea to be protected and effectively managed and 30% of degraded ecosystems to be restored at both EU and global level.
  • An EU-wide legally binding target to restore degraded habitats by 2030, through restoration of natural forests, peatlands, floodplains, wetlands, biodiversity rich grasslands, coastal zones and marine areas.
"With the European Commission expected to announce the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy at the end of February, this resolution is a key moment for the European Parliament to let its green voice be heard. MEPs must give a clear signal to the Commission in support of ambitious and legally binding targets to bring nature back. 2020 is the year for biodiversity, and it has never been more urgent," said Sabien Leemans, Senior Policy Officer for Biodiversity at the WWF European Policy Office.


Contacts

On European Green Deal:
Angelika Pullen
Director of Communications
apullen@wwf.eu

On CBD and Biodiversity Strategy
Edel Shanahan
Communications Officer, Biodiversity and Agriculture
eshanahan@wwf.eu
Posted: January 13, 2020, 12:00 am
WWF's five asks for the EU just transition mechanism - a chance for a fair move to climate neutrality © WWF EPO / Sarah AzauWhat's happening?

On 14 January, the European Commission is expected to propose a fund to support the shift to a climate neutral EU. This fund, known as a 'just transition mechanism', will aim to mobilise €100 billion to help regions whose economies are based on carbon-intensive activities, like coal mining. 

Why does it matter?

The climate emergency requires us to cut emissions massively, starting now, and for the EU to reach net zero emissions - climate neutrality - by 2040. This means every part of Europe must take urgent climate action. But in some regions, many jobs are based in sectors which will either have to adapt massively to reduce greenhouse gases enough, or close down. Those workers and their communities need to be supported as their economies change, so the transition to climate neutrality is fair and just across Europe. The EU 'just transition mechanism' can be a key part of that support.

What is WWF looking for?

To truly deliver, the just transition mechanism should do five key things:
  1. Leverage and contain new funds (both public and private) to implement a comprehensive just transition. 
  2. Only finance projects consistent with a sustainable and climate-neutral Europe by 2040 - this means fossil fuel investments are excluded.
  3. Encourage effective partnerships, including with civil society, local governments and trade unions
  4. Be part and parcel of comprehensive regional plans to get climate neutral in a socially just way: such plans must include phase-out dates for fossil fuels.  
  5. Ensure support to Europe's coal regions, as a priority.
Katie Treadwell, Energy Policy Officer, WWF European Policy Office said:
"The move to climate-neutrality can open up new and sustainable economic opportunities across Europe. To ensure this is the case, and that desperately needed climate action is supported far and wide, the EU 'just transition mechanism' is crucial. It must support an inclusive move to climate-neutrality in those regions which most need it."

More information:

The just transition and the EU Emissions Trading System
In WWF's view, an effective just transition mechanism must leverage and contain new funds (both public and private). Existing funds can also be optimised - for example, the Emissions Trading System (ETS) could do a lot more towards a just transition, as recent WWF analysis reveals. WWF's findings show that EU Member States are spending billions of Euros less on climate action through the ETS than they could. 

Altogether, of the €13.9 billion total ETS revenues in 2018, one-third - €4.6 billion - was reportedly not spent on climate actions consistent with a just transition, like insulating homes or installing renewable energy. What's more, emissions allowances worth €11 billion were given out to polluters for free. This makes almost €16 billion of missed money for climate action last year. 

If the ETS was tightened up, billions more could be spent on actions compatible with a fair path to a climate neutral Europe. On the contrary, if the money is spent in ways that delay a just transition, this will only worsen the health and environmental damage communities will suffer.

WWF's asks for the just transition mechanism in more detail:

1. Leverage and contain new funds (both public and private) to implement a comprehensive just transition.The transition will require new and upfront investment. It will also require targeted investment to ensure the benefits and costs of the transition are spread fairly.

The new just transition mechanism should complement existing EU funding sources to help them contribute to the just transition. Such funds include the regional development and cohesion funds, but other sources, such as the Emissions Trading System, could provide billions of Euros for just climate action. 

The mechanism could, for instance, set criteria for a just transition, or be useable  in conjunction with other EU funds. However, it must not draw resources away from other funds which can support the just transition. Private finance will also be key to accessing the scale of investment required.

2. Only finance projects consistent with a sustainable and climate-neutral Europe by 2040, meaning no fossil fuel investments.

The just transition fund should exclude all fossil fuels from financing. Maintaining a polluting fossil fuel industry will raise the overall costs of the transition by delaying it and leaving regions with stranded assets. Moreover, by failing to address climate change, the poorest and most vulnerable in society will suffer disproportionately. By contrast, embracing a clean and just energy transition to a low carbon and resilient economy early will boost prosperity and drive overall employment and generate net decent and sustainable jobs.

'Advanced coal technologies' and Carbon Capture and Storage must also be avoided. Despite years of hype by the coal industry, such technologies are still unproven and not commercially viable, and make no sense given the readily available, cost-effective and sustainable alternatives like wind and solar power. 'Climate-proofing' criteria should be set for projects receiving just transition mechanism funding..

3. Encourage effective partnerships, including with civil society, local governments and trade unionsThe just transition mechanism should respect and reinforce the involvement of all partners in just transition plans. Furthermore, the roles of each stakeholder and their decision-making power must also be clearly defined. The fund should recognise the need for capacity building of stakeholders on the just transition and contain provisions to support it.

4. Be part and parcel of comprehensive regional plans to get climate neutral in a socially just way: such plans should include phase-out dates for fossil fuels.  

Delaying the transition will increase the costs of the transition.  Therefore, transition support should be contingent on transition plans containing commitments to phase out fossil fuels and a timeline consistent with keeping global heating to 1.5°C and EU climate neutrality. These transition plans should be developed locally and with the participation of all stakeholders.

5. Ensure support to Europe's coal regions, as a priority

Our actions over the next 10 years will be critical in determining whether we reach or fail to attain climate neutrality. There is one investment cycle left to decide whether we choose to lock-in fossil fuels or move to sustainable renewable energy. Coal as one of the dirtiest sources of fossil energy needs to go as quickly as possible. Regions still dependent on coal require targeted support for their transition. However, funding must not be exclusive to coal regions nor be available indefinitely. 

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: January 9, 2020, 12:00 am