World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

filtered by category: Climate Change

  • Date: 25 September 2017
  • Author: Martha Stevenson

Recent months have witnessed a whirlwind of debate in the bioenergy space, with letters signed by academics on both sides, white papers and responses wielded between think tanks, civil society and industry groups squaring off in special reports, and a hung Science Advisory Board of the EPA unable to make a determination about their guidance on biogenic carbon accounting. It has been a confusing time, even for the experts.

At WWF, we follow these debates and review the scientific literature to inform our position, which is then grounded in the expert field experience of our global network. For those of you seeking to green-up your energy supply and navigate these confusing times, here is our best advice when it comes to bioenergy, while understanding that new studies are coming out every week and that the IPCC won’t issue their guidance on national inventories until 2019.

Use sources of sustainable renewable energy first.

If you are in a sector where there are commercially viable low/no-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels and bioenergy (e.g., solar[1], wind, geothermal) use those first and get creative on how to shift as much energy demand as you can to those systems through electrification. If you are in a sector where these solutions are not commercially viable (e.g., industrial process energy or aviation) then we have two additional pieces of advice.

Only use bio feedstocks that deliver significant climate benefits over fossil fuels and without compromising biodiversity.

The most important question to WWF in the bioenergy debate is “What types of bioenergy provide a significant climate benefit over fossil fuels and do not significantly impact biodiversity?” The first point is crucial given that there are types of bioenergy that, whilst technically ‘renewable’, can have higher impacts on climate change than the fossil sources they replace[2]. Additionally, the connection between climate and biodiversity is important to understand, because the concept of mitigating trade-offs is not so simple.[3] Climate change will have negative impacts on biodiversity and maintaining biodiversity will increase ecosystem resilience to climate change. A benefit to one at the expense of the other is not a sound solution.

With this as context, our cautious recommendation is to look to industrial or municipal wastes and byproducts that are available for energy production, while applying an approach of cascading use[4]. These classes of biomaterials do not increase harvest levels, are unlikely to cause displacement affects (i.e. remove feedstocks from other industries) or further impact soil or biodiversity conditions. These are the lower risk feedstocks for supply, but need to be assessed on a case by case basis while considering local supply, production management practices and potential alternative uses. Before investing in bioenergy infrastructure or long term contracting, develop a rigorous sourcing policy consistent with the above, including what feedstocks are acceptable and conduct an assessment of the availability of policy-compliant, bioenergy feedstocks for the duration of the project.

Assumptions of carbon neutrality leave you exposed to serious risk.

WWF supports life-cycle carbon accounting for any technology that is making climate benefit claims, so that the true impacts are understood and informed decision-making can occur. Assumptions of carbon neutrality limit your understanding of the system and the potential risks, leading to poor decision-making and unwise investments. Given the growing awareness amongst policy makers of the sustainability concerns relating to many types of biomass, they are also subject to significant regulatory risk. We would like to see more companies calculating and reporting their biogenic carbon emissions, including (when important): land use change; impacts to all five carbon pools; forgone sequestration and for forest ecosystems[1] carbon debt over a climate-relevant timescale. Calculation methodologies exist to do all of this and their intent is to understand the full picture of climate impacts, so we can design energy transitions in line with a less than 2-degree future.

There are not many simple answers on this topic given the interlinkage between climate impacts and competing land uses, including biodiversity, but these difficult challenges need to be addressed. WWF will continue to look to the science and engage constructively with other stakeholders to grapple with these complex trade-offs.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

 [1] Check out Quantis’ Guidance on calculating Land Use Change https://quantis-intl.com/lucguidance/ https://about.bnef.com/blog/global-wind-solar-costs-fall-even-faster-coal-fades-even-china-india/

[2] http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/one_planet_cities/key_messages/?302612/EU%2Dbioenergy%2Dpolicy%2D%2D%2Dposition%2Dpaper

[3] Biodiversity promotes primary productivity and growing season lengthening at the landscape scale. Jacqueline Oehria, Bernhard Schmida, Gabriela Schaepman-Struba, and Pascal A. Niklausa. PNAS doi/10.1073/pnas.1703928114.

[4] (https://www.worldwildlife.org/projects/cascading-materials-extending-the-life-of-our-natural-resources) 

Check out Quantis’ Guidance on calculating Land Use Change https://quantis-intl.com/lucguidance/

  • Date: 24 March 2017
  • Author: Hilton Worldwide

Earth Hour is the world’s largest grassroots movement that celebrates climate action, and it all began at a Hilton. In 2007, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) conceived of Earth Hour at the Hilton in Sydney, Australia. A decade later, Hilton is honoring its Earth Hour legacy with a global social media contest to spread the word on how we can all play a role in reducing our energy consumption.

Earth Hour takes place this Saturday, March 25 from 8:30PM to 9:30PM your local time. Millions of people across the planet join the global Earth Hour movement by simply turning off the lights. Hilton is inviting you to take a picture of your Earth Hour “unplugging” and demonstrate your creativity in mobilizing climate action.  Share your photo on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using the hashtags #EarthHour and #TravelWithPurposeContest. The winner will win a five-night trip to see the world’s most famous natural light – the Northern Lights – in Reykjavik, Iceland!

Since its inception, Earth Hour has inspired hundreds of thousands of Hilton Team Members at hotels around the world who have done everything from developing low carbon menus to hosting “dining in the dark” experiences and acoustic concerts. The annual celebration is part of a broader strategic partnership between Hilton and WWF that is focused on three critical areas: water use, sustainable seafood purchasing, and food waste.  As a result of the collaboration and WWF’s insight and expertise, Hilton launched its Sustainable Seafood goals in 2016 and a new Water Stewardship Commitment just this week.

  • Date: 01 January 2017
  • Author: Jason Clay, SVP Markets, Exec Director of the Markets Institute

The Markets Institute at WWF identifies global issues, trends, and tools around the most pressing challenges of our time. Each year we release a list of what we see as the top emerging industry developments that may not be apparent to help stakeholders stay ahead of the curve, and to help us all shift faster.

The lists are identified through research, interviews, data analysis, and discussions with our Thought Leader Group. Here are the top issues, trends, and tools to keep an eye on in 2017:

ISSUES

Climate change as a threat multiplier

We are seeing more and more anecdotal evidence of the impacts of climate change. Nowhere more so perhaps than in the global food system. There are more pests and pathogens, weeds are healthier, seasons more variable, and there are more extreme weather events from drought to floods, hurricanes, tornados, dust bowls, fires, and more. We are also seeing the beginning of shifts in where crops are—or can be grown. Going forward, we need better systems to monitor climate impacts so we can begin to anticipate and get ahead of them.

Decentralization of global governance

Global governance systems are being undermined and replaced with bilateral arrangements and a more decentralized system. This can be seen most clearly with the World Trade Organization being moved aside by bilateral and regional trade deals. But it is also happening in several other ways. There are some issues that are truly global and that cannot be solved by one, two, or even a handful of countries. Everyone needs to be engaged. This is especially true of environmental issues—biodiversity loss knows no boundaries; neither does pollution, and GHG emissions, perhaps the biggest pollution issue of all, will not be solved without cooperation, rules of the game, measurement and continuous improvement, with everyone doing something.

Emerging zoonoses

It feels like zoonotic diseases have become a more regular occurrence. In fact, we have had an average of two every year for the past century. Except for the Spanish influenza, most of the outbreaks have not been global. However, it’s growing clearer that they are being caused by clearing natural habitat and forcing more biodiversity onto smaller amounts of land. New hosts are being found in the wild but also with the most common mammals—livestock and people. As we clear more land, encroach on more habitat, and raise more livestock, we can expect more outbreaks. And if hundred-year storms are now a twice-a-decade event, we can expect a big one, or more, on the horizon.

Microbiomes

We are at the beginning of a groundswell around microbiomes, whether it is the gut microbiome of people or animals, soil or even plant microbiomes. As we understand more about the microbiomes of different species, we have a much better idea about their role in nutrition, nutrient uptake and recycling, and the production of GHGs like methane. Microbiome research and understanding how they function will be key to changing diets of people and livestock, but also in how we feed plants and take advantage of natural processes to reduce soils amendments.

Trump & Bolsonaro: Wild Cards

No two national leaders reflect the rise of nationalism, protectionism, and the rollback of environmental protections more than Trump and Bolsonaro. Unfortunately, they are not alone, and others are likely to follow suit as we experience major pushback on globalization, as well as social and environmental agendas—and the polarization that each seems intent to encourage. Their governments look less like democracies and more like a “winner takes all” strategy. And, with these two it will get worse before it gets better; each has a constituency of loyal followers.


TRENDS

Plant-based Everything

As the movement, particularly in developed countries, toward plant-based diets gains momentum, we are seeing alternatives for anything that traditionally contained animal protein. Some of these attempts work and will begin to find market share. Most fail. But the trend is here to stay—plant-based diets will be an increasing share of the food market. The questions are how big it will become, where it will gain most tractions, how long will it take, and if they can keep the environmental impacts low if—and when—they start to scale.

Momentum from the Paris Accords

Coming out of the Paris COP, many companies have decided that they can’t wait for governments to start reducing GHG emissions. More and more companies are making commitments to reduce their own scope one emissions, as well as scope two three emissions. It is great to see this movement. The question is whether it will help drive government ambition higher.

Soil’s moment in the sun

It’s about time that the importance of soil is more widely recognized. With current farming techniques, without soil we would have no food. That is why soil (e.g. its health, erosion rates, nutrients, and biodiversity) is such an important biome for people. Regenerative agriculture, climate-smart ag, land stewardship, agroforestry, and eco-agriculture are all pushing for better soil management. Now, with the potential to pay farmers for improving soil (not for soil carbon per se, but reduced input use and increased efficiency and resiliency) rather than mining it, hopefully we will see vast improvements in productivity and reduced negative impacts.

Decline of regulation

With economic growth declining, the rise of nationalism, and the volatility of primary product pricing, most countries have less revenue and are cutting government. Many are pulling back precisely when the need to do more has never been greater, as social safety nets are disappearing and any gains for the poor are rolling back. In this vein, governments are also becoming laxer about enforcing existing regulations. This has resulted in a gradual, but pervasive increase of illegality in global food trade affecting both domestic and global food systems. It continues to go unchecked, hurting both producers and consumers, but also the planet.

Protein tradeoffs: land, sea

As people become more selective about protein sources, they are beginning to choose based not only on human health issues such as links to disease, aging, or the latest nutrition study in the news. Many are shifting from land-based proteins to those from the ocean. The real question is how does one compare proteins of different types of livestock with different seafoods, and then also production methods, e.g. free range or grain-fed and wild-caught or farmed. This trend will lead to more research about proteins and how they fit into personal nutrition plans.

Material accumulation vs. well-being

Increasingly, material accumulation is confused with well-being. This is true not just in developing countries where more people are being lifted out of poverty but also includes developed countries and the wealthy wherever they live. Displaying wealth in the form of things leads to accumulation and unnecessary consumption. It can be something as simple as having twenty t-shirts in a drawer, but only wearing three. And as things are displayed it becomes competitive and drives more accumulation. Unless people see the folly of this it only ends at the resource limits of the planet.


TOOLS

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is increasingly being tested and used in the US for a wide variety of needs from fundraising to research. Contributions through citizen science have led to the identification of new species, species distribution and population counts, and even things like weather patterns, the impacts of climate change, and the search for criminals. However, crowdsourcing is also being used to support peer-reviewed, primary scientific research, and eventually crowds may do more of the reviewing.

Personalized nutrition

Now that we can sequence everyone’s personal DNA, we can not only anticipate medical issues or inherited traits but can keep them in check if monitored. Now it is clear that it is possible to also understand the impact of diet on health and even anticipate and ‘prescribe’ personalized nutrition plans to abate certain health issues.

Precompetitive venture capital

When XPRIZE launched the space tourism prize, they discovered that many entrants didn’t have access to the capital they needed maximize their chances to win the $10 M prize. They did not win the contest, but after the prize was awarded, four of them launched IPOs and raised $2 B in venture to take their inventions to market. Realizing that they had missed an opportunity, the Foundation created BOLD Capital, a venture fund to invest in groups that qualified to compete for XPRIZEs. The goal was to create a fund that invested in all the horses in the race. This is a way to de-risk VC is going forward.

Forest carbon sequestration

As companies attempt to reduce their GHG emissions, many realize that there is no way that they can reduce their direct GHG emissions, so they are looking for other ways to make a meaningful contribution. While it doesn’t make sense for oil and automobile companies, even airlines or thermal power plants to invest in carbon sequestration, it might make sense for banks, insurance or IT companies to reduce global emissions by investing in reforesting degraded areas or forests that are being degraded or likely to be cut. This helps solve a carbon problem and rehabilitates degraded land for nature. But this should only happen in addition to setting a broader, transparent, science-based strategy to reduce emissions in their operations and across their supply chains.

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Stay tuned for what else we see this year, and help us keep an eye on the horizon.

If you haven't already, sign up for our weekly update to see how these trends evolve.

  • Date: 10 August 2016
  • Author: Sandra Vijn

Last year, 9.3 million cows generated more than 200 million pounds of milk in the US. That’s a lot of nutrition, and it’s also a significant source of greenhouse gases—about 2 percent of our country’s emissions. Recognizing this fact in 2008, the dairy sector voluntarily set a goal of reducing GHG emissions from fluid milk by 25 percent by 2020, and has since undertaken several projects intended to help meet that goal.

Over the last six years, World Wildlife Fund has worked with the Innovation Center for US Dairy, dairy farmers, consumer brands, and others to develop a digital tool called Farm Smart® to help dairy farmers measure, shrink, and share their GHG and energy footprints.

Now, the Farm Smart tool will be incorporated into the FARM Environmental Stewardship module that is being added to the existing FARM Animal Care and FARM Antibiotic Residue Prevention modules, managed by National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). The FARM Environmental Stewardship module will be available to all 43,000 US dairy farmers on January 1, 2017.

By entering their production metrics into a digital survey, farmers can use the FARM Environmental Stewardship module to see how their herd size; feed, and energy use; manure systems; and other variables affect their environmental and economic performance. For dairy buyers and brands that have established climate change goals of their own, the module can help them track of emissions and energy use within their supply chains. It can also be used to identify potential efficiency gains and cost savings. It can help find ways to produce more milk with less resources.

Why is WWF involved? We are dedicated to driving sustainable food systems to conserve nature and feed the planet. That means using fewer resources to produce more food on the current amount of land, and protecting natural habitats, keeping oceans, rivers, and lakes clean, and curbing climate change. These issues are important for the dairy industry: Beyond greenhouse gas emissions, dairy cows produce manure, which needs to be properly managed to protect waterways, and use feed, which should be produced in ways that conserve soils and water, and doesn’t lead to conversion of ecologically important areas such as prairies, wetlands, and forests.

Though climate change will affect everyone on the planet, farmers are on the front lines. It threatens them directly in the form of erratic weather and indirectly in the form of volatile prices for energy, feed, and other inputs.

It’s also a critical issue of trust and transparency. Consumers increasingly want to know where their food comes from and how it was produced. The FARM Environmental Stewardship module creates a platform for uniform reporting of GHG emissions and energy use, and in addition to the FARM Animal Care and FARM Antiobiotic Residue Prevention Modules, will give customers and consumers a more comprehensive and up-to-date view of what it takes to produce a gallon of milk.

As challenging as it is for a single company to reduce its energy use and GHG emissions, it’s even more difficult for an industry of 43,000 businesses—as well as their customers down the supply chain—to act collectively. That’s why this is so significant: it gives every farm a consistent means to measure and manage their emissions. It also sets an example for other industries looking to take similar actions.

It’s now up to us—WWF, the Innovation Center, and NMPF, among others—to ensure it’s used as widely as possible. Given how valuable it is for all involved, there’s good reason to be optimistic.

  • Date: 18 March 2016
  • Author: Hilton Worldwide

Every March for the past five years, thousands of Hilton Worldwide properties from around the globe have been taking part in WWF’s Earth Hour. The idea behind Earth Hour, that simple steps can make a big difference to address climate change, truly aligns with Hilton’s belief that passion for hospitality can be used to make a lasting, positive difference in people’s lives and the wider world. Not to mention Hilton has a long standing passion for Earth Hour as the original idea was conceived during a WWF meeting held at Hilton Sydney.

In previous years, hotels have risen to the challenge of finding creative ways to participate and raise awareness about energy reductions and climate change. Guests have been treated to candle-lit dinners, acoustic music, comedy in the dark and low carbon menus, as well as opportunities to test drive electric cars or even swap their hotel car for a camel ride!

In 2016, Hilton decided to embrace the overwhelming enthusiasm of Team Members and franchise employees for protecting the environment and extended celebrations into the whole month of March. Hilton has challenged all hotels to use Earth Month to increase awareness of preserving the environment and enhancing year-round efforts to save water, reduce energy use and minimize waste.

Hilton’s expanded Earth Hour efforts further demonstrate the company’s on-going collaboration with WWF. In 2015, Hilton announced a multi-year commitment between WWF and Hilton collaborating on water-stewardship strategy, expanding Hilton’s sustainable seafood efforts globally, advancing Hilton’s food waste efforts and accelerating the adoption of renewable energy.

Hilton Worldwide views sustainability as a key part of its business. Water, energy, food, commodities, waste requirements and other factors significantly impact the economics of its business every day around the world. For this reason, preserving the environment, is a business imperative and a cornerstone of Travel with Purpose, the company’s corporate responsibility strategy to create shared value for Hilton Team Members, guests, business partners and communities.

Hilton is one of the first major multi-brand hospitality companies to make sustainability measurement and reporting a brand standard, equal in importance to quality, service and customer engagement. Sustainability efforts are measured through LightStay™, Hilton’s state-of-the-art, in-house corporate responsibility measurement platform. LightStay serves as the comprehensive, one-solution platform for all environmental, operational and social impact reporting for Hilton’s global portfolio of hotels. This approach and its efforts have enabled the company and each one of its hotels to earn a triple ISO certification for Quality Management, Environmental Management and Energy Management.

Hilton encourages hotel participation as a tangible sign of its commitment to the environment and to inspire others to learn more and take action.

  • Date: 01 December 2015
  • Author: Suzanne Apple

Today, more than 100 leading businesses joined WWF and several NGOs in publicly calling for strong action to tackle climate change. In a full page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal, these businesses urged US leadership in international negotiations on climate change and called for a low-carbon revolution.

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  • Date: 02 September 2015
  • Author: Matt Banks

 In August, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and President Obama announced the final Clean Power Plan, aiming to reduce carbon pollution from power plants across the nation. A safer and more prosperous future is within our grasp and on the horizon. To reach it, both governments and the private sector need to work together. Governments have made a major step with the Clean Power Plan. Businesses can match this step by committing to a zero-carbon future powered by renewable energy. The easiest place to start? A proven strategy designed by WWF, CDP and McKinsey & Co. that can save both money and carbon through:

  1. Energy efficiency through technology improvements
  2. Energy efficiency through management or behavioral changes
  3. Increased use of low-carbon energy
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  • Date: 13 August 2015
  • Author: Laura Margison, WWF

Today marks Overshoot Day – the moment in time when we (humans) have used up the annual natural capital the planet has to offer. From this day through the end of the year, we are operating in the red. This means we are fishing beyond our oceans’ limits, cutting more trees and clearing more woodland than our natural forests can provide, and drawing down on the water table more than rain can replenish, all the while increasing carbon and methane emissions. Simply put, our global demand is exceeding the planet’s supply.

So what can we do? The problem seems overwhelming and perhaps too large to resolve, but there are a package of solutions, each contributing to a healthier planet.

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  • Date: 01 May 2015
  • Author: James Beard, WWF and Rafael A Grillo Avila, Environmental Defense Fund

If international aviation were a country, it would be a global top ten carbon emitter, with emissions expected to triple or quadruple by 2040. This is why the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has agreed to cap net carbon emissions from international aviation at 2020 levels.

ICAO aims to achieve this goal through technical and operational measures; carbon pricing through market-based measures (MBM’s); and biofuels. Many airlines see biofuels as a “silver bullet” for meeting their carbon goals. Already over 40 airlines have flown over 600,000 biofuel-powered flights.

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  • Date: 25 March 2015
  • Author: Amy Ridener, Manager of Sustainability, Verizon

On March 28th you can be part of Earth Hour, a worldwide project organized by World Wildlife Fund. On that day, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time, Earth Hour will bring together families, businesses, government leaders and others to turn off all nonessential lighting for one hour as a statement of collective concern about climate change.

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