WWF DEMANDS CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION
By: Rumana Akoob
The World Wide Fund for Nature says that climate change is happening faster, more intensely and at an unprecedented rate of change.
This is according to the Fifth Assessment Working Group 1 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Leader of WWF’s Global Climate & Energy Initiative, Samantha Smith said that there were few surprises in this report.
“The increase in the confidence around many observations just validates what we are seeing happening around us,” she said.
Smith went on to say that the IPCC had issued its last major report in 2007 and since then, terrestrial glacier loss and sea-level rise have dramatically accelerated.
“The Arctic summer sea ice losses are higher than originally projected and the last decade was the warmest since 1850,” she added.
Particular findings show major impacts on the world’s oceans which WWF said in a statement are of huge concern as more than one billion people live and depend on oceans as their main source of food and livelihood.
The finding states that ocean acidification since 1900 has increased by almost 30% and is probably at its strongest level over many million years. Dr Stephan Singer, who is WWF’s director of global energy policy, said that the main cause is carbon dioxide largely from burning fossil fuels which dissolve in oceans.
“This may destroy an already fragile ecosystem in an almost irreversible way if mankind does not shift from fossil fuels to renewables as soon as possible. Warmer and much more acid oceans are detrimental for fish, coral reefs and most other parts of marine ecosystems,” Dr. Singer said.
Singer added that it is incumbent on all sectors of society, including governments, to now act on the facts and science presented in this report which has gone through an unprecedented process of review.
Head of WWF South Africa’s Living Planet Unit, Saliem Fakir said, “Energy accounts for more than two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions. In South Africa, coal-fired electricity accounts for about 90 per cent of energy mix. For this reason we are calling for double the effort and double the ambition.”
Fakir said that the South African government has already committed to generating around 19 gigawatts of electricity through renewable energy by 2030.
“Doubling the effort means delivering on that far sooner than the deadline. Doubling the ambition means finding the money and reducing the capital required to increase our goal from 19 gigawatts to 38 gigawatts. In other words, government needs to pull out all the stops to remove outstanding barriers and to look at innovative ways of reducing the financial cost of renewables. The latest IPCC report shows conclusively that such ambition is vital,” said Fakir.
Dr. Smith concluded, “Whichever facts may be discussed, debated or distorted, we cannot ignore the reality that we must act or face frightening new impacts. We know that most of the pollution that causes climate change comes from burning fossil fuels. WWF calls on governments and investors to stop investing in dirty energy and start an immediate and just transition by investing in renewables.”
WWF is one of the world’s largest independent conservation organisations, with almost five million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. Their mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to help build a future in which humans live harmoniously with nature through conservation.
In South Africa, WWF has been in existence for more than 40 years.