Arctic climate change threatens the polar bear

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) © WWF
In a vital first step towards saving the polar bear which is severely threatened by the accelerating loss of summer sea ice due to climate change, the five nations signatory to the international Polar Bear Conservation Treaty agreed that the future of the polar bear is closely linked to urgent global action on climate change.

The next steps will be to feed this into climate treaty discussions in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009 and push for Arctic management policies to be based on resilience.

On the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker disaster and its massive impact on Alaska’s marine environment and commercial fisheries, politicians were presented with rocks still dripping Exxon oil to underline the acute danger of oil exploitation and transit.

Climate savers

Logo Climate Savers © WWF
At a Climate Savers Summit in Washington DC, US, an independent survey showed that WWF’s Climate Savers Programme has achieved voluntary reductions of 50 million tonnes of greenhouse gases since the programme started in 1999.

This is equivalent to the annual emissions of Switzerland. WWF works with the 21 companies that have joined the programme to date, including household names such as Nike, Nokia and Sony to achieve aggressive emission reductions against a credible baseline.

The companies report their efforts achieve greater operational efficiency and significant cost reductions, while growing their business.

Towards a global forest carbon market

Illegal logging in the lowland rainforest. Highly quoted cedro tree (Cedrela odorata), Department Madre de Dios, Peru. © WWF
Leading international experts in climate change, forestry and finance came together in the Forest Carbon Finance Summit in March 2009, in collaboration with Harvard and Duke University, to identify how to mobilize funding to protect forests, including an effective carbon market.

A key WWF aim is to have funding mechanisms agreed for forest carbon as part of the global climate deal to be discussed in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009.

The Government of Norway’s Forest and Climate Initiative has recognized WWF as a strategic partner.

The government has committed EUR400 million annually for five years to support the establishment of a global, binding, post-2012 regime that will halt emissions due to deforestation and degradation.

Earth Hour

Earth Hour: Your Light Switch is Your Vote. © WWF
On 28 March 2009 at 20:30 local time, Earth Hour swept across the planet, reaching out to a billion people.

Hundreds of millions of people in 88 countries across 4,000 towns and cities, and including 20,000 companies and 1,000 iconic landmarks such as the Giza Pyramids, Eiffel Tower, Acropolis, Christ the Redeemer in Rio, and the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing participated in Earth Hour by switching lights off for one hour.

This uniquely powerful action urged governments to agree an effective global climate deal at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December 2009. Earth Hour will now continue to mobilize public support for urgent action on climate change, through the Vote Earth campaign.

Earth Hour champions

Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu lent his voice to Earth Hour’s global call for action on climate change, accepting WWF’s invitation to be a Earth Hour champion.

“Climate Change is the greatest human-induced crisis facing the world today. It is totally indiscriminate of race, culture or religion. It affects every human being on the planet,” he said.

As the recipient of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize following his struggle against apartheid, Desmond Tutu knows better than most the power of individuals uniting for a common cause.

He said that by performing this one simple act together, it sends “a message to our governments too powerful for them to ignore. They will know the eyes of the world are watching.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon © WWF
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged citizens around the world to join WWF’s Earth Hour to demand action on climate change. In an address on YouTube, the Secretary-General said Earth Hour would represent the largest demonstration of public concern about climate change ever.

He underlined the need for a global climate deal when the world’s leaders meet in Copenhagen. “We need an ambitious agreement that is fair and effective. An agreement based on sound science,” he said.

“We are on a dangerous path. Our planet is warming, we must change our ways. We need green growth that benefits all communities. We need sustainable energy for a more climate-friendly, prosperous world. This is the path of the future. We must walk it together.”