UN climate talks fail to deliver progress - WWF comment

Scotland and others must now deliver on their climate change commitments

Commenting on the outcome of the UN Climate Change talks in Lima, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks, who has been in Lima as an observer, said:

"The final outcome from Lima is bitterly disappointing. These talks leave a huge amount of unfinished business for countries to try and resolve before Paris if we're to stand a chance of securing a new global climate deal that’s both fair and ambitious

"We need to see global emissions peak by the end of decade, yet there's a yawning gap between what the outcome in Lima commits nations to do and the scale of what the climate science is telling us. Worse still, these commitments will not be enough to protect those most vulnerable to climate chaos, but the least responsible for causing the problem.

"If there’s any silver lining, then it’s that outside of these talks civil society, along with businesses, cities, and a host of others are already acting with urgency. Governments too can do things outside of these talks, which is why countries like Scotland, along with other forward thinking nations, need to ensure they actually deliver on their existing pledges to cut emissions at home.

"In the case of Scotland, with our three missed climate targets, that means putting at least the same amount of effort into reducing emissions from transport, housing and other sectors as is successfully being put in to harnessing clean energy from renewables."

Samantha Smith, Leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative at the close of the UN climate talks in Lima, Peru:

“Against the backdrop of extreme weather in the Philippines and potentially the hottest year ever recorded, governments at the UN climate talks in Lima opted for a half-baked plan to cut emissions.

“Governments crucially failed to agree on specific plans to cut emissions before 2020 that would have laid the ground for ending the fossil fuel era and accelerated the move toward renewable energy and increased energy efficiency.

“The science is clear that delaying action until 2020 will make it near impossible to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, yet political expediency won over scientific urgency. Instead of leadership, they delivered a lackluster plan with little scientific relevancy.

“Negotiators have wasted the wave of political optimism they rode into the talks, even after commitments to cut emissions from China and the US and an initial US$10 billion in climate finance from countries large and small.

“Developed country governments couldn’t even manage to explain how they will deliver the long-promised US$100 billion per year in climate finance by 2020. In a move that seemingly dismissed the plight of the most vulnerable countries, they completely removed any meaningful language about “loss and damage”.

“If they’re in fact serious about preventing climate catastrophe, governments now have to start immediately identifying specific actions to cut emissions and provide finance before 2020. There will be ample opportunity to do so with the most powerful countries gathering at the G7 and UN summits both planned for June 2015. And they have six months to put forward their most ambitious emissions cuts and finance commitments for 2020 onwards, with all information to describe how they will meet those commitments.

“The outcome in Paris is still a mystery and governments can solve it. But it’s going to be hard road to pull everything together in the next year and churn out an adequate and equitable deal based on science and not politics.”

“In a stark contrast to the negotiations we have seen positive developments outside. Latin American countries have have shown that decisive climate action is indeed possible, through announcements to ramp up renewable energy, further reduce forest-based emissions, and contributions towards the capitalization of the Green Climate Fund, with their own resources and support from others.”

“Leaving Lima, WWF will continue to work with other civil society partners, local and national governments, businesses, and others inside and outside of this process to keep up the fight to address climate change with urgency.


Naturalist and Dragon join Prince Charles in tackling forest destruction

HRH The Prince of Wales, Steve Backshall and Deborah Meaden at WWF’s Forest Business Forum at the Royal Society, ahead of discussions with major UK businesses on how to move the global demand for timber onto a sustainable footing and reduce the impact of deforestation on the world’s forests.

Steve Backshall and Deborah Meaden have joined His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales in calling on business to help protect the world’s forests from deforestation.

Steve and Deborah joined an event organised by WWF at which HRH The Prince of Wales met with business leaders from some of Britain’s biggest High Street names to discuss how they could help the global forest trade move towards a 100% sustainable future. As well as putting businesses that rely on timber or wood based products on a more secure long term footing by ensuring sustainable supply chains, the move would also ensure customers were not unwittingly purchasing products that are contributing to deforestation around the globe.

Representatives from firms including Boots, Kingfisher and Kimberly-Clark all put forward ideas that could enable the UK market to become more sustainable. The UK is the world’s fifth largest importer of wood-based products, consuming materials valued at over £14.4 billion in 2013. The goal is to achieve a market that allows businesses to flourish without impacting on the world’s remaining forests, which are currently disappearing at a rate of one football pitch every two seconds. Global demand for wood is expected to triple by 2050, meaning businesses could see their supply chains severely challenged if they do not act now.

Deborah Meaden, WWF Ambassador, who has supported the campaign since its launch in September said;
“It makes business sense for leading businesses to work together to reach solutions that ensure the long-term supply of a resource on which they, as well as nature, depend. These businesses need forests, and forests need them.”

Steve Backshall, wildlife presenter and author, said:
"Forests are vital to the life of our planet - one billion people around the world depend on them for their livelihoods and they are home to well over half the world’s terrestrial species. We all need to learn to respect the forest resources we have and use them responsibly. That starts with making sure that the wood products we all use here in the UK come from legal and sustainable sources.”

Since the launch of the campaign in September, over 30 influential businesses have publicly pledged to support the campaign and have committed to source all their wood-based products from legal and sustainable sources by 2020.

Lima talks to test political will for global climate deal

UN climate talks opening in Lima on 1 December will be pivotal for the political will needed to craft a new global climate deal. Governments are expected to agree on the outline of an agreement to be approved in Paris in 2015.

With overwhelming scientific evidence of the increased rate and impact of climate change, it is essential that governments make climate change a top political priority and leave Lima with a strong foundation for success in Paris.

“Make no mistake. COP20 is a litmus test for political will for urgent action on climate, and specifically for an ambitious and equitable global agreement on climate change,” said Tasneem Essop, WWF’s Head of Delegation to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Adding to the urgency, the unprecedented call for action by citizens across the world in recent months demonstrates that governments have to step up the pace and scale of their commitments to the climate negotiations.

“We know the consequences of inaction and it’s no longer good enough to say that it’s too politically difficult to act,” said Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative.

“We have a year to the Paris meeting. And we are off to a good start with “opening bids” by China, the US and the European Union all pledging to reduce emissions. The finance commitments made by a number of countries earlier this month also lends much needed political momentum to the talks,” she said.

WWF’s expects the following outcomes in Lima:

1. Governments must act with urgency to close the emission gap in the pre-2020 period. This includes
Closing the emissions gap in pre-2020 period;
Scaling up renewable energy consumption to 25 per cent and double energy efficiency by 2020;
Ensuring developed countries increase their existing emission reduction commitments; and
Ensuring developing countries enhance existing actions with support from developed countries;
Committing immediate support for targeted actions on forests and agriculture in key regions, since these sectors can deliver immediate emissions reductions for the 2020 period through committing to zero deforestation and degradation by 2020.

2. Governments must build a safe future for us all, especially the vulnerable by agreeing to elements of a new 2015 deal. It should include:
Agreeing on a global Adaptation goal
Recognising of the central role for Adaptation in countries’ contributions;
Filling the Adaptation Fund;
Committing support for actions to curb deforestation and include forests in the 2015 Agreement;
Agreeing on a mechanism to help those who will suffer permanent loss and damage due to impacts of climate change.

3. Governments must put science and equity at the heart of the new agreement and that must include
Agreeing to a carbon budget in line with science; and a long-term goal of phasing out fossil fuels and phase-in to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050;
Deciding on a science and equity-based review of efforts with a ratcheting up mechanism;
Ensuring that national contributions are transparent and comparable; and
Committing to finance and support at the scale needed for ambitious actions.

Countries that have not made financial commitments to the Green Climate Fund should use the opportunity of the COP 20 meeting in Lima to do so.

“We are meeting on a continent of developing countries that have already experienced devastating impacts of climate change through floods, glacier melts and extreme weather events. It is also a continent where we have witnessed strong actions to address climate change. This should spur all countries to be prepared to set aside their own national interests and act in the interests of the planet,” said Essop.