The world urgently needs to shift to climate-resilient, low-carbon development. Decisive action at the national and local level, along with international commitments, is necessary to drive many countries and businesses to take more ambitious action.
Why it matters
To have a chance of limiting warming, the vast majority of carbon-releasing fossil fuels—the biggest driver of climate change—have to be phased out.
Climate adaptation is not new; people and nature have responded to climatic changes in the past. Adaptation includes well-established practices such as disaster risk reduction, ensuring water and food security, and coastal, river basin, and protected area management.
What is new are unprecedented climate conditions which comes with faster change, greater uncertainty, and our need for new knowledge and methods to manage climate-related risks.
What WWF is doing
WWF works to promote a shift away from carbon-intensive activities around the world. An important part of WWF’s low-carbon work centres on the United Nations climate talks, one of the central processes where climate commitments can be made at scale, while sharing the actions needed to deal with the climate crisis in a fair way.
As more than half the world’s population lives in cities, WWF also recognises that urban centres are an important place to mobilise the transition towards a climate-friendly economy.
Working with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Agreed to by governments in 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international agreement that allows countries to cooperatively address the question of how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and cope with climate impacts.
To bolster the global response to climate change with concrete goals, governments adopted the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. The Protocol legally binds certain developed countries to emission reduction targets. However, with its second commitment period set to expire in 2020, a new and strengthened framework for global climate action was needed to take its place.
The Paris Agreement is a historic and ambitious new global climate deal that was agreed upon at the United Nations climate talks in Paris in December 2015. For the first time, this agreement requires all countries - developed and developing - to take climate action.
Governments in Paris also committed to keep global warming well below 2°C, and aim to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels. Meeting these targets will require a redoubling of climate efforts at all levels of society.
WWF works to keep the pressure on governments so that the Paris Agreement can mark a new chapter of accelerated climate action. The treaty entering into force, once it has been ratified by a sufficient number of countries, is a key step.
Read more about the Paris Agreement and December 2015 UN climate meeting here.
Working to help the world adapt to and mitigate climate impacts
At the heart of the response to climate change is mitigation action: strategies or measures that reduce the causes of climate change primarily through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Through advocacy, WWF works to hold governments to account. This ensures that momentum for climate action is sustained, strengthened, and, crucially, leads to tangible results on the ground by way of a decrease in emissions.
Historically, developed countries have been responsible for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions, while developing countries are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
With the poorest and most vulnerable already being impacted by a changing climate, WWF supports strong action on climate change adaptation: the process of adjusting to the changing climate and its cascading impacts.
We need to reduce and prepare for current and future risks faced by vulnerable communities, and build the resiliency of people and ecosystems.
We cannot prevent or adapt to all climate impacts such as hurricanes and typhoons, or sea level rise. This is why WWF supports measures to help the most vulnerable prepare for the losses and damages associated with climate impacts, and to assist with aid and compensation when these impacts occur.
Working with cities
With more than 70 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions generated by residents in urban areas, cities are the frontlines of climate change hazards and sources of climate leadership.
WWF’s work on sustainable cities aims to inspire and support a transformation that will provide urban dwellers with attractive lifestyles within their fair share of the planet’s biological capacity.
One of WWF’s flagship projects is the Earth Hour City Challenge, which celebrates and highlights cities around the world who promote renewable energy initiatives, work to reduce emissions, promote energy efficiency projects and prepare for climate change.
Earth Hour City Challenge winners such as Vancouver, Cape Town and Seoul demonstrate how strong climate leadership at a subnational level can radically reduce carbon footprints, and inspire the world with their solutions.