We’re developing coalitions that can shift energy policy and reduce carbon emissions in Europe, China, India and Brazil.
It was a truly encouraging sign when, in November, the Paris Agreement came into force less than a year after the ground-breaking deal to tackle climate change was agreed. Well over half the countries in the world have already ratified the agreement, and at a pace that shows there’s a real sense of urgency about the need to act. More than 100 nations are now committed to limiting the rise in global temperatures. We worked tirelessly to help achieve an ambitious agreement, and we’ve been urging nations to show their commitment by ratifying it. You can find out more about the Paris Agreement, why it’s so important, and what you can do to help tackle climate change in this short WWF film.
Aviation agreement takes off
International aviation is among the world’s fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. But these emissions weren’t included in the Paris Agreement, because they happen above and between countries, not within them. That’s why a new scheme to tackle aviation emissions, agreed at the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation in October, is so important. WWF played an important role in the negotiations, pushing for strong standards on offsetting emissions and using biofuels – and a mechanism to increase the scheme’s ambition over time. The result is the first ever carbon cap on a global industry. The countries that have so far agreed to participate represent three quarters of the predicted growth in the sector’s emissions beyond 2020. It’s a vital step forwards, but it’s not mission accomplished. We still need a 2050 goal for aviation, aligned with Paris, and clear steps to achieve it – including cleaner planes, greener fuels and more travel by train and sea.
Animated about climate change
In Wales, our lobbying this year has helped to ensure a commitment from the Welsh government that it will maintain its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2020. We supported a ‘local climate lobby’ throughout October, which helped people across Wales call on Assembly Members for climate action. As part of the month of action, we produced an animation to help raise awareness about why the Welsh Government needs to act now to tackle climate change – to help protect wildlife and communities, and make sure Wales is fit for future generations. You can watch the animation above.
In Scotland, we and our supporters helped secure a series of milestones on climate action in 2016. In June, the Scottish government published its climate figures for 2014, which showed that Scotland had met its target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42% – six years early! But there’s still a long way to go to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. There are two big opportunities for action in early 2017 – the Scottish government’s Climate Action Plan and a new Climate Bill. In the run-up to these, as part of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, we helped mobilise hundreds of people across Scotland for a mass lobby of MSPs at Scottish Parliament in November. The MSPs told us this event really helped show how much public support there is for renewed investment in reducing our emissions and the shift to a zero-carbon Scotland.
Week of action
In October over 500 WWF supporters joined the climate coalition for the Week of Action, taking the opportunity to meet with MPs and speak up for the things you want to protect from climate change. From village festivals and country walks, to panel discussions and coffee mornings – we were inspired by the variety of events you held. A Woking resident, Billy, invited local MP Jonathan Lord to our Living Planet Centre, where he pledged to continue working towards a cleaner future. We’re among 200 organisations that form the climate coalition, working together to create a mass movement against climate change. If you missed this year’s events, don’t panic – the next Week of Action will be in July 2017.
In Scotland, 2016 was a year of world-firsts, record setting and innovation in the renewables sector. Our research helped demonstrate there’s no longer a need for coal in Scotland’s energy mix – and in March, Scotland’s last coal power station (Longannet) closed down. The Scottish government is due to publish a new energy strategy in early 2017, so in November we launched new research into Scotland’s energy sector of the future. We found that 50% of our energy must come from renewables by 2030 if Scotland is to meet its climate targets. Our research was mentioned by every MSP who participated in the Scottish Parliamentary debate about Scotland’s energy future. The latest figures show Scotland meets 59% of its electricity needs from renewables. But it’s vital the progress made in renewable electricity is repeated across the whole energy sector – including big sources of emissions like heating and transport.
After the EU referendum vote, there were fears that low-carbon policy could be at risk in the UK. So we were heartened when the UK government approved the fifth carbon budget – an ambitious commitment to cut carbon emissions by 57% from 1990 levels between 2028 and 2032 – the level of reduction advised by the Committee on Climate Change (the independent scientific advisers to the government). It provides a clear signal that will help boost the UK’s green economy. We provided technical and legal analysis to support the case for passing the budget at the level that had been recommended to the government. We were thanked by officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change for our advocacy efforts.
In advance of the Scottish Parliament election in March 2016, we brought all five Scottish party leaders together to sign the Climate Leaders’ Agreement. In it, they reiterated their commitment to delivering on the Scottish Climate Change Act. And thanks to our supporters, who sent almost 2,000 emails to party leaders in the run-up to the election, we managed to ensure all parties’ manifestos included commitments to energy efficiency. As a result of our policy and campaigning work, some of our key asks are now being taken forward by the Scottish government – including a Warm Homes Bill to bring renewable heat to our homes, a Climate Bill to continue doing our fair share on limiting global temperature rise, and a new energy-efficiency programme that will help tackle emissions from ‘leaky’ buildings.