World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

  • Date: 16 December 2020
  • Author: Dan Riley, Director, International Corporate Climate Partnerships

As I reflect on the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement and the end of 2020, I believe we have reason to be optimistic about the fight against climate change. Several climate-critical countries, including China, Japan, South Africa, and South Korea, recently stepped forward with ambitious carbon neutrality targets--joining the dozens who have already made such commitments. Here in the U.S, the incoming Biden-Harris Administration has pledged to rejoin the Paris Agreement on “Day One,” and a coalition of thousands of communities, businesses and institutions have declared that “America is All In,” while calling for a net-zero trajectory for the United States.

We have more reason to be optimistic when we look to the contributions being made by businesses. Over 1000 companies globally have committed to set Science Based Targets, with nearly 500 of those already approved. Over 280 companies have signed on to RE100, committing to use 100% renewable electricity, and in the U.S., over 200 companies have joined the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance. The commitments of these leading companies, and many more across the U.S., reflect the growing consensus by business that they must cut greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and their supply chains if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

The need for a Global Gateway

Despite this growing corporate ambition, companies face real barriers to translate their ambitious targets into on-the-ground actions. One particularly difficult challenge is working with supply chain partners in international markets. In many of these markets the critical role business must play in cutting emissions is not yet locked in. And, we know suppliers face tremendous capacity, market, and policy challenges even if they want to succeed.

That’s why WWF has been working to make it easier for companies and their suppliers to do more quickly. We know from working in many countries, including India, Mexico, South Korea, and Viet Nam, that success requires localized, integrated, and streamlined support platforms. In each case, WWF leverages deep local roots and strong technical expertise to identify the most effective local partners and to navigate the unique market and cultural conditions towards long-lasting solutions.

Climate Business Hub China

This month, WWF China launched one more program, the Climate Business Hub China (CBH China). CBH China will focus initially on three offerings where deep-rooted, localized support can unlock climate action for companies and their local suppliers: target-setting, renewable energy procurement, and low-carbon innovation. This work is convened and led by local experts at WWF China and includes materials, presentations and events in Chinese.

Target Setting: To make it as easy and efficient as possible for local teams and suppliers in China to engage and learn at scale, CBH China has developed a Science Based Target Training Camp to provide answers and share case studies that allow businesses to set emissions reduction targets that are both real and achievable. Initially, the training will be held two or three times a year.

Additionally, through engagement with Chinese companies, we have found that they are less inclined to set a target or make public pledges without a very clear pathway for reaching the target. Therefore, CBH China is designed to provide strong implementation support along the SBTI training, with a particular focus on renewable electricity procurement.

Renewable Electricity Procurement: CBH China has developed a suite of tools and resources for companies at different levels of maturity:

• The Renewable Energy Buyers Statement is designed to help companies communicate their commitment and demand for renewable energy to policymakers and utilities.

• The Buyers’ Evaluation Tool will guide new companies through an eight-step renewable energy procurement journey and provides targeted recommendations and resources within each step to accelerate their renewable energy procurement journey.

• The Buyers' Curriculum provides modular renewable energy procurement training for companies at different stages of their procurement journey.

• The Corporate Renewable Energy Pilot Program provides hands-on support for motivated companies to work closely with provincial policymakers, utilities and renewable energy developers to explore new and better options for renewable electricity procurement.

Low Carbon Innovation: Companies need new and innovative solutions to reduce their emissions cost-effectively. Meanwhile, small and medium enterprises who are one of the main drivers for low-carbon innovation face significant financing and marketing challenges. CBH China’s Climate Solver program awards small and medium enterprises which develop innovative low-carbon solutions annually and connects these innovators to the companies and investors who can accelerate their commercialization and growth.

The Climate Business Hub China—one more reason to be optimistic for 2021!

For more information about Climate Business Hub China, please contact Yue Wu or Daniel Riley.

  • Date: 09 December 2020
  • Author: Annie Petsonk, Environmental Defense Fund; Brad Schallert, WWF; and John Holler, WWF

If you fly, you may know that flying is likely the largest part of your personal carbon footprint. What you may not know is that if aviation were its own country, it would be a top-ten carbon polluter. Plus, scientists now know that aircraft burning fuel in the upper atmosphere more than doubles the global warming impact of the carbon dioxide emissions alone– think of the heat-trapping contrails streaking across the sky that jets form high up in the atmosphere.

Aviation’s social license to operate depends on its ability to get on a flight path to net zero climate impact by 2050.

That’s a tall order, for two reasons.

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  • Date: 17 November 2020
  • Author: David Kuhn and Nicole Tanner, WWF

Climate change is amplifying and creating new risks for companies. As storms, droughts, and heat waves become more frequent and severe, natural systems that provide the essential inputs to sustain production and ensure business continuity face ever-increasing threats. Companies must now ensure they are not only sustainable, but also "resilient"—that is, able to withstand, recover from, and adapt to changes in weather and climate.

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  • Date: 28 October 2020

Thermal energy emissions from industrial production may be the largest remaining unaddressed climate challenge you never heard of. Well, that’s about to change. Industrial thermal energy generates 11% of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—more than the entire US agricultural sector. Globally, energy used for heating and cooling is 50% of final energy use and contributes 39% of greenhouse gas emissions from energy-related sources.

Not surprisingly, for many years decarbonizing industrial energy took a back seat to the big challenges of developing and deploying renewable electricity in the power sector, as well as electric vehicles and new mobility strategies in transportation. With economic tailwinds now driving rapid commercialization and deployment in these sectors, it’s time to turn our collective attention to renewable energy solutions for industrial production, including hydrogen, biogas, biomass, electrification, and solar thermal among others.

Building on WWF’s successful efforts to mobilize large corporate electricity buyers to use their collective demand to make it easy to buy renewable electricity, WWF, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), and David Gardiner and Associates formed the Renewable Thermal Collaborative in 2017. The RTC is a unique buyer-led coalition of major commercial and industrial energy buyers and sellers dedicated to collective action to solve the thermal energy challenge. RTC gives large thermal energy buyers "power in numbers," where they can learn from each other and collaborate with everyone needed to identify and overcome the many technological, market, financial and policy challenges to renewable energy solutions.

In the past three years, RTC members and technology providers have uncovered barriers, identified promising opportunities and are creating collective strategies for tackling those barriers. Several leading RTC members have successfully invested in renewable thermal solutions with significant emissions and cost savings. The cost of many renewable and low carbon thermal technologies is dropping, though we have a long way to go before thermal solutions match our progress on renewable electricity. That’s why RTC is convening the first annual RTC Summit from November 9-10, 2020.

The Summit offers a unique opportunity to join this growing community where you can learn from industry leaders about current and emerging technologies, connect with corporate peers and experts about barriers and opportunities in the renewable thermal market, and understand the policy landscape and what still to be done.

Over the course of the Summit, RTC members and stakeholders from across the corporate, technology, finance, innovation, and policy sectors will explore how to overcome the barriers faced by renewable thermal solutions, how to drive implementation, and develop lasting networks that will put us on the path to reducing industrial sector thermal emissions by 30% by 2030 and full sector decarbonization by 2050.

Register now and join your peer companies in this growing corporate renewable thermal movement. Please reach out to Marty Spitzer to learn more about RTC and the Summit.

  • Date: 20 October 2020
  • Author: Kerry Cesareo, Senior Vice President, Forests, World Wildlife Fund

Clearer public-private pathways are putting us on the right track

The end of 2020 marks a crossroads that is both deeply worrying and quite exciting. Deforestation and conversion of natural ecosystems continue unabated, with 3.8 million hectares of tropical primary forest lost in 2019—a 2.8% increase from the previous year. Wildfires rage from the Amazon to the Arctic, and the recent Living Planet Report released by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) shows an average 68% decrease in population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish in less than 50 years. Deforestation is enabling more human-animal contact and raising the chances of new pandemics spilling over to humans; it also continues to be a primary driver of climate change, creating a vicious cycle.

Concurrently, conservation and restoration of forests, and nature more broadly, have been elevated on the global agenda. Forests are included in the Paris Agreement and in the land-based carbon targets of many countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions. And, building from the experiences of REDD+, governments at the national and subnational level in many key commodity-producing regions are translating these ambitions into action by providing leadership in place-based, multistakeholder efforts to address deforestation and conversion. Increasingly, governments and the business community are engaging with each other. Ghana, for instance, has created action plans with cocoa buyers to address deforestation. In Indonesia, the National Action Plan for Sustainable Palm Oil is providing a structure around which palm oil companies can coordinate their forest protection and restoration efforts in line with government strategies.

Meanwhile, the business case for far more expansive action to protect nature has become obvious. Nature loss is no longer just an issue of reputational risk—it threatens the future of commodity supply and the jobs linked with raw material production. Forest loss is damaging soil quality while changing weather patterns are reducing yields of planted crops. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2020 ranked biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse among the top five threats the global economy will face in the next 10 years.

The private sector has taken notice and begun to evolve its sustainability ambitions to match the scale of the challenge confronting nature. Over the last decade, much of the business community committed to eliminate deforestation from its commodity sourcing, and the Accountability Framework initiative (AFi) and Collaboration for Forests and Agriculture (CFA) have created best-practice guidance to support implementation. More recently, leading companies have begun to align with government and other actors in producing regions on strategies that go beyond individual supply chains to address underlying drivers of nature loss. Several important platforms like the Consumer Goods Forum and Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) are helping to mainstream expectations that the public and private sectors should collaborate through landscape and jurisdictional initiatives.

This trend is encouraging, but the overall number of companies engaging in these scaled efforts remains low. Major barriers have included uncertainty around the business case for multistakeholder collaboration and a dearth of clear examples to follow. There is also misalignment between the sort of actions civil society is asking companies to undertake and the sustainability practices for which companies are currently recognized and rewarded.

But barriers to engagement are coming down. Over the past year, a group of organizations has developed a suite of new tools and guidance to enable broader company engagement in production geographies where they are invested or exposed. Whereas AFi and CFA provide the key guidance for implementing deforestation/conversion-free commitments within supply chains, these new tools elaborate complementary guidance for addressing systemic drivers. They pull from concrete examples to help companies understand and navigate through their options to engage. And thoughtful collaborations have positioned these tools to be reasonably aligned, thus avoiding the pitfalls of conflicting guidance from civil society.

  • A new paper from the United Nations Development Program, Value Beyond Value Chains, clarifies why and broadly how companies can engage in landscape and jurisdictional initiatives. It explains the business case for collaborating beyond value chains at landscape, subnational, and national levels to help create the enabling conditions for sustainable production and provides broad schemas to help companies think about how to engage in multistakeholder initiatives in producer countries.
  • A complementary paper from Proforest, Engaging with Landscape Initiatives, fleshes out the how and adds guidance on where to engage. It walks through steps companies should take when thinking about how to engage in landscapes, describing elements of the engagement process like building trust, planning and implementing interventions, and monitoring of progress. And it helps companies understand their supply base, how to prioritize landscapes for engagement, and decide which initiatives they might work with.
  • A resource that Walmart recently launched provides more granularity on the question of where to engage, providing maps that show the jurisdictions where companies are likeliest to source key deforestation-risk commodities and the deforestation risk of these jurisdictions.
  • Building on these tools, TFA released a set of corporate guidance and a dynamic web-based tool developed by WWF and Proforest that goes the next step in describing what specific actions companies can implement to advance landscape and jurisdictional initiatives. It provides concrete interventions companies can take, offers real-world examples where companies are already doing so, and proposes guidance on how to execute.
  • Each of the previous tools informs corporate action. New guidance from ISEAL Alliance on Verification of Jurisdictional Claims lays out the parameters for assuring progress at the landscape/jurisdictional scale and for making credible claims about contributions toward that progress. It walks through practical steps to ensure the integrity of landscape-level performance data and how progress is communicated, and it explores the types of claims companies can make depending on the ways they engage.

While time is running out to reverse global ecosystem loss, we’re finally at a point where governments and companies are beginning to mobilize at the scale required to meet our conservation imperatives. Thanks to this new guidance, the pathways for corporate action are clearer than ever. Now, with these tools in hand, the moment has come for public-private partners to accelerate their joint efforts—for the future of the natural world and generations to come.

  • Date: 27 September 2020

Valuing our rivers can help fight against climate change and support wildlife and communities.

Healthy rivers help us adapt to climate change and build more resilient societies, economies and ecosystems. Free-flowing rivers allow for deltas and mangroves that protect coastlines. They sustain fisheries and forests, provide water and support floodplain agriculture to grow food, supporting millions of people. Yet the world over, rivers are themselves under threat from climate change and poorly planned infrastructure. This in turn is threatening our world's fisheries, forests, wildlife habitats and river-based communities. Climate change will also increase the pressure on freshwater species populations, which have already crashed by 84% on average since 1970, according to the latest WWF Living Planet Report.

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  • Date: 24 September 2020
  • Author: By Tim Juliani, director of corporate climate engagement, WWF; and Pete Pearson, senior director of food loss and waste, WWF

Biogas has gained popularity in recent years as a “greener” fuel. This is the methane created when anaerobic digestion breaks down organic matter, like in landfills or “digesters” that convert animal manure or food waste, which can then be used to replace conventional natural gas. But is it truly a renewable energy solution? Well, you may not be surprised to hear: it’s complicated.

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  • Date: 17 September 2020
  • Author: Ellen Jackowski, Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer, HP

The numbers are staggering. In 2019 alone, the tropics lost more than 29 million acres of tree cover. That's close to 30 soccer fields’ worth of trees every single minute. Monitored forest-dwelling wildlife populations—including mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians—have declined on average by 53% since 1970. Declines have been greatest in tropical forests, such as the Amazon rain forest. We know that forests are essential to life on Earth, serving as home to thousands of animal and plant species, supporting the livelihoods of millions of people, and helping to regulate the global climate.

At HP, we understand and accept the science indicating this next decade is the most critical moment in time for addressing climate change and know that forests play a key role in a global solution.

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  • Date: 16 September 2020
  • Author: Kroger

The COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, and storms and wildfires in 2020 remind us of the profound challenges facing communities across the U.S. Despite some progress in recent decades, many people still live precariously close to the edge, and our planet’s climate is changing in front of us.

It’s up to all of us to apply the lessons learned this year to shape a brighter future for families and our food system.

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  • Date: 15 September 2020
  • Author: Daniel Riley, WWF and Zach Freeze, Walmart

Climate change is a critical threat to biodiversity. As temperatures change, some species will need to adapt by shifting their range to track more suitable climate. Changes in temperature can confound the signals that trigger seasonal events such as migration and reproduction. “Traditional” threats like habitat loss and overexploitation may be exacerbated by compromising a species’ ability to respond to climate change.

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