Earth Hour again swept the world starting 20:30 local time on Saturday 27 March – highlighting the possibilities for change when we work together. Around the world, hundreds of millions of people came together with passion, inspiration and hope to send a message that with the right attitude, help and policies from governments and world leaders, we can together achieve the meaningful emissions reductions to prevent average global warming exceeding 2°C and triggering catastrophic climate change.
Between the lights going off in Chatham Islands, and being switched back on in Apia, Samoa 24 hours later, the world witnessed lights switched off on heritage sites, ancient and modern marvels, local cafés, schools and universities, factories, royal palaces and backyard dinner parties.
A record 126 countries and territories, over 4,000 cities, towns and municipalities, and hundreds of millions of people across the globe took part in delivering a message stating the need for effective action to counter climate change.
Clean energy technology is on track to become the world’s third largest industrial sector, with a rapidly increasing share taken up by China. A WWF report released at end 2009, Clean Economy, Living Planet, is a country-by-country ranking by clean energy sales, finding that relative to GDP, wind-energy and insulation pioneer Denmark and bio-ethanol giant Brazil are leading the way, followed by Germany and China.
The report predicted that by 2020, the industry would be worth EUR 1,600 billion annually, ranking third behind automobiles and electronics. In 2007, clean energy technology had a sales volume of EUR 630 billion and was already ahead of the global pharmaceutical industry.
Within the sector, sales revenues from energy efficiency products in 2007 were five times higher than renewable energy revenues, but renewables are growing at a rate of 15%. The report made the point that with political will, this growth could greatly increase, offering viable alternatives to fossil fuels.
The Government of Norway has committed USD250 million to the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) over a period of 5 years for the support of the Low Carbon Development Strategy of Guyana and activities related to avoided deforestation and sustainable development. Following the Norwegian grant of USD100 million to the Brazilian Amazon Fund last year, this is the second commitment from Norway for large scale efforts supporting the REDD mechanism.
Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) is a mechanism to provide financial incentives at a global scale to manage forests wisely rather than convert them, and is a priority of WWF’s Forest Carbon Initiative.
Together with WWF-Norway, WWF-US, and the Forest Carbon Initiative, WWF Guianas has assisted this historic agreement and is working with the Government to assess the national carbon stock. The GRIF will release funds on Guyana meeting stringent targets limiting carbon emissions from forest management.
WWF, Harvard and Duke Universities jointly organised the second annual Forest Carbon Finance Summit: Getting to Scale, Getting Results, in February, in Washington, DC. More than sixty thought leaders from the forest carbon finance field met to move REDD+ from a concept to a practical level.
The event brought together senior executives, legal and financial leaders, policy experts, and investors, to focus on how the carbon markets, public finance, and new mechanisms can be used to channel funds to enable forest countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
Participants discussed various carbon accounting frameworks, experiences from the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation Mechanism, necessary infrastructure to make forest carbon markets work, and ways to achieve permanent and real carbon reduction with effective protection of social and environmental values, with due regard for national sovereignty.
The formalization of a new partnership to develop collaborative efforts on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation – known as REDD+ – is being supported by fifty forest and donor countries.
Hosted by the governments of Norway and France and known as the REDD+ Partnership Process, this initiative aims to speed up actions to reduce the approximately 15% of global carbon emissions linked to forest loss by mobilizing financial and technical resources from developed countries. Several countries, including Australia, France, Japan, Norway, UK and US have already pledged $3,5 billion for REDD+, and many developing countries including Brazil and Indonesia have announced ambitious REDD targets.
The mechanisms developed by the REDD+ Partnership will determine how and where REDD+ money will be spent, and WWF is working to ensure that the process adopts robust principles to safeguard the climate, biodiversity and people’s livelihoods and rights, while ensuring that this is an open, inclusive and transparent process.