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  • Half of plant and animal species at risk from climate change in world's most important natural places

    Snow leopard (Panthera uncia) © David Lawson / WWF-UKLONDON - Up to half of plant and animal species in the world's most naturally rich areas, such as the Amazon and the Galapagos, could face local extinction by the turn of the century due to climate change if carbon emissions continue to rise unchecked. Even if the Paris Climate Agreement 2°C target is met, these places could lose 25 per cent of their species according to a landmark new study by the University of East Anglia, the James Cook University, and WWF.

    Published today in the journal Climatic Change and just ahead of Earth Hour, the world's largest grassroots movement for the environment, researchers examined the impact of climate change on nearly 80,000 plant and animal species in 35 of the world's most diverse and naturally wildlife-rich areas. It explores a number of different climate change futures – from a no-emissions-cuts case in which global mean temperatures rise by 4.5°C[1], to a  2°C rise, the upper limit for temperature in the Paris Agreement[2]. Each area was chosen for its uniqueness and the variety of plants and animals found there.

    The report finds that the Miombo Woodlands, home to African wild dogs, south-west Australia and the Amazon-Guianas are projected to be some the most affected areas. If there was a 4.5°C global mean temperature rise, the climates in these areas are projected to become unsuitable for many of the plants and animals that currently live there meaning: 

    • Up to 90 per cent of amphibians, 86 per cent of birds and 80 per cent of mammals could potentially become locally extinct in the Miombo Woodlands, Southern Africa
    • The Amazon could lose 69 per cent of its plant species
    • In south-west Australia 89 per cent of amphibians could become locally extinct
    • 60 per cent of all species are at risk of localized extinction in Madagascar
    • The Fynbos in the Western Cape Region of South Africa, which is experiencing a drought that has led to water shortages in Cape Town, could face localised extinctions of a third of its species, many of which are unique to that region.
    As well as this, increased average temperatures and more erratic rainfall could become be the "new normal" according to the report - with significantly less rainfall in the Mediterranean, Madagascar and the Cerrado-Pantanal in Argentina. Potential effects include[3];
    • Pressure on the water supplies of African elephants – who need to drink 150-300 litres of water a day
    • 96 per cent of the breeding grounds of Sundarbans tigers could become submerged by sea-level rise
    • Comparatively fewer male marine turtles due to temperature-induced sex assignment of eggs.
    If species can move freely to new locations then the risk of local extinction decreases from around 25 per cent to 20 per cent with a 2°C global mean temperature rise.  If species cannot they may not be able to survive. Most plants, amphibians and reptiles, such as orchids, frogs and lizards cannot move quickly enough keep up with these climatic changes.

    Lead researcher Prof Rachel Warren from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA said:
    "Our research quantifies the benefits of limiting global warming to 2°C for species in 35 of the world's most wildlife-rich areas. We studied 80,000 species of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians and found that 50 per cent of species could be lost from these areas without climate policy. However, if global warming is limited to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, this could be reduced to 25 per cent. Limiting warming to within 1.5°C was not explored, but would be expected to protect even more wildlife." 
    Overall the research shows that the best way to protect against species loss is to keep global temperature rise as low as possible. The Paris Agreement Pledges, made by coutnries, reduce the expected level of global warming from 4.5°C to around 3°C, which reduces the impacts, but we see even greater improvements at 2°C; and it is likely that limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C would protect more wildlife.

    This is why on 24 March millions of people across the world will come together for Earth Hour, to show their commitment to protecting biodiversity and being a part of the conversations and solutions needed to build a healthy, sustainable future – and planet – for all. The global mobilization sparked by Earth Hour also sends a clear message to business and government that there is a global will to change this trajectory.

    Tanya Steele, CEO of WWF-UK commented:
    "Within our children's lifetime, places like the Amazon and Galapagos Islands could become unrecognisable, with half the species that live there wiped out by human-caused climate change. Around the world, beautiful iconic animals like Amur tigers or Javan rhinos are at risk of disappearing, as well as tens of thousands plants and smaller creatures that are the foundation of all life on earth. That is why this Earth Hour we are asking everyone to make a promise for the planet and make the everyday changes to protect our planet."


    For further information, please contact
    Alexander Stafford
    +44 (0)1483 412332
    07742 093510
    For questions about the Climatic Change paper, contact Rachel Warren, +44(0)1603 593912 r.warren@uea.ac.uk 
    For questions about the full WWF report, contact Jeff Price, +44(0)1603 592561 jeff.price@uea.ac.uk
    Case studies
    What individual species will experience:
    • Orang-Utans have a solitary life-style which allows them to move to cope with reduced food availability due to changing climates. However, females are strictly bound to their territories, which will prevent them from moving, and can put them at risk as there is a general reduction in available forest habitat due to deforestation, climate change and other human pressures
    • Snow leopards already live under extreme conditions with very little margin for changes which makes them particularly sensitive to changes in climate. Their habitat will shrink by 20 per cent due to climate change and will put them into greater direct competition over food and territory with the common leopard, which will likely lead to a further decline in numbers.
    • Tigers live in highly fragmented landscapes and will be greatly impacted by further climate-induced habitat loss. For example, projected sea level rise will submerge 96 per cent of breeding habitat for the Sundarbans tigers, and Amur tigers are unlikely to persist to the next century if the size and quality of their habitat is reduced.
    • Polar bears are among the most sensitive to climate change because they depend on sea ice to live and eat. Younger polar bears that are not as practiced hunters are particularly affected by food shortages due to shrinking sea ice. Polar bears in some areas are already in decline - for example, the population in Hudson Bay has been already reduced by 22 per cent - and are predicted to sharply decline by the end of the 21st century due to climate change.
    • Marine Turtles are highly sensitive to climate warming. While adults have been known to move to avoid too warm waters, a changing climate will impact greatly on their offspring. Tortoises and turtles are among the species with temperature-dependent sex determination. Warmer temperatures will produce more females resulting in a dangerous sex bias. Also increased flooding will increase egg mortality and warmer sand will also produce smaller and weaker hatchlings.
     Notes to the editor 
    1. The research has been peer-reviewed and published 14 March 2018 in the academic journal Climatic Change.  The reference is The implications of the United Nations Paris Agreement on Climate Change for Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas by Warren, R.1, Price, J., VanDerWal, J., Cornelius, S., Sohl, H. 
    2. WWF has produced a summary report of the research titled 'Wildlife in a Warming World'
    3. The research published in Climatic Change was summarised from a 5-part report commissioned by WWF and led by Dr. Jeff Price.  This report includes a literature review on the effects of climate change on individual species led by Dr. Amy McDougall (formerly UEA).
    4. The models used in this research come from the Wallace Initiative (http://wallaceinitiative.org), a near decade long partnership between the Tyndall Centre at UEA (UK), eResearch at James Cook University (Australia), the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and World Wildlife Fund. 
    5. Earth Hour, organised by WWF, is the world's largest grassroots movement for the environment inspiring millions across the world to take action and make a promise to protect our brilliant planet, our home. Right now we're facing some of the biggest environmental threats ever seen, including staggering biodiversity loss. - We're seeing our oceans suffocated by plastic and over-consumption decimate our forests, the lungs of the earth. Earth Hour shows what we can achieve when we all come together. Last year in the UK over 9 million people took part, along with over 6,000 schools, 1,700 youth groups, 300 landmarks and thousands of businesses and organisations. Iconic landmarks including Big Ben and Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Blackpool Tower, The Kelpies, Brighton Pier, Cardiff Castle and many more joined the global switch off. Globally, from Samoa to Tahiti, a record 187 countries and territories took part in the world's biggest Earth Hour yet. The support for Earth Hour and WWF's work more broadly has influenced climate policy, facilitated climate-friendly laws, such as a ban on plastic in the Galapagos Islands and supported the world's first Earth Hour forest in Uganda.
    6.  Follow WWF-UK on Facebook, Earth Hour Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest 
    7. WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit panda.org for latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @wwf
    8. The University of East Anglia (UEA) is a UK Top 15 university. Known for its world-leading research and outstanding student experience, it was awarded Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework. UEA is a leading member of Norwich Research Park, one of Europe's biggest concentrations of researchers in the fields of environment, health and plant science. www.uea.ac.uk 
    9. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research is an active and expanding partnership between the Universities of East Anglia (headquarters), Cambridge, Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Southampton, Sussex, and recently Fudan University in Shanghai. It conducts research on the interdisciplinary aspects of climate change and is committed to promote informed and effective dialogue across society about the options to manage our future climate. www.tyndall.ac.uk
    [1] Relative to pre-industrial times
    [2] Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change, was an agreement signed by 175 countries in 2016
    [3] Based on the Climatic Change report, scientific literature and expert knowledge from WWF

  • Cape Town water crisis: Michael Bloomberg on Ground Zero as Day Zero is pushed back

    Michael Bloomberg visiting the Theewaterskloof Dam with Christine Colvin from WWF-South Africa. © WWFIn recent months, all eyes have been on Cape Town as the city copes with a water crisis of unprecedented scale. It has been billed as the first major city in the world to run the risk of its taps running dry and though latest news reports indicate that Day Zero may be pushed back, the city's four million residents have become the face of the 'new normal' the world appears to be heading toward.

    Not surprising then that in his first trip as U.N. Special Envoy for Climate Action, Michael Bloomberg, decided to visit the Theewaterskloof Dam, the largest dam supplying water to the Western Cape of South Africa, on Wednesday.

    At the site, the founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City said: "The extreme drought here in Cape Town should be a wake-up call for all who think that climate change is some far off threat. It's already here, it's making droughts and storms more dangerous, and we've got to do more to keep it from getting worse. Cities and businesses are helping to lead the way, but all levels of society in all countries - on all continents - must take bolder actions. We cannot let droughts like this become common around the world."

    Christine Colvin from WWF-South Africa accompanied Mr Bloomberg on the visit along with other prominent environmental and water experts to discuss how, given the intensification of extreme weather due to climate change around the globe, cities can accelerate their preparations for an uncertain water future.

    Colvin said: "The current Cape water crisis has had a dramatic impact not just on water availability, but also our relationship with water. Water has suddenly become everybody's business as households and the private sector have scrambled to secure alternate, off-mains supplies and improve their levels of water-use efficiency and independent water security. A 'New Normal' is going to require a diversification of water sources and a rethink of our current infrastructure. Catchments, aquifers and our water source areas are a critical component of that infrastructure. They require direct attention and investment as part of our future economic development. The natural links in our water value chain can no longer be allowed to fall through the administrative gaps between national government and water service providers. As we move to more decentralized use with thousands of individuals managing boreholes, recycling systems and rain water, we need to find a new model that enables us all to be both consumers and custodians of this our shared water resources."

    To find out more about how citizens, companies and decision-makers have taken actions to push back Day Zero in recent months, visit wwf.org.za

  • Mondi joins WWF's Climate Savers business leadership programme

    Mondi Tree Nursery © MondiGlobal packaging and paper group adopts 2050 science-based targets to limit global temperature rise to under 2°C.  

    Vienna, Austria  – Mondi Group has joined the ranks of global climate leaders by signing up to Climate Savers, WWF's climate leadership programme for businesses. The packaging and paper group commits to reduce its specific production-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 0.25 t CO2e/t production by 2050. This commitment and others made as part of its participation in the flagship programme are in line with climate science targets required to limit global temperature rise to under 2°C. 
    Mondi's participation in Climate Savers is an extension of a strategic global partnership between Mondi and WWF that started in 2014. The partnership focuses on promoting environmental stewardship in the packaging and paper sector. In joining Climate Savers, Mondi commits to working to further reduce GHG emissions across its entire value chain and to taking actions to positively influence the packaging and paper industry as well as policy makers. Climate Savers members aim to transform businesses into low-carbon economy leaders.
    Peter Oswald, Chief Executive Officer, Mondi Group says, "As a global player in the packaging and paper industry, we are part of an energy intensive sector. We've managed to reduce our specific CO2 emissions by 38% since 2004 by focusing on operational efficiency and energy efficiency. We join the WWF Climate Savers programme to reinforce our long-standing commitment to climate change mitigation and to demonstrate to the rest of our industry that using energy efficiently is not only necessary for the environment, but also good for business. We are proud to confirm our commitment to the science-based target needed to keep global warming well below 2°C for our production-related emissions."
    Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice says, "Climate change is one of the biggest threats of our future, with fundamental impacts on places, species and people everywhere.  To change things for the better, we need to start acting now. We welcome Mondi's efforts toward helping build a more sustainable business world and are happy to have them join the Climate Savers programme."
    To achieve its climate goals, Mondi has developed an ambitious programme to improve energy efficiency, replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, sustainably manage its forests and associated ecosystems, and source its raw materials responsibly. Mondi is also active in developing packaging and paper products that help its customers and consumers reduce their own carbon footprints.
    Mondi's Climate Savers agreement will run at least until the end of 2020, concurrent with phase two of its global partnership with WWF.
    Notes for Editors:
    Mondi's Climate Savers commitments and climate targets:

    • Reduce scope 1 and 2 emissions*: Mondi commits to reduce production-related, absolute scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with evidence- based climate science targets to keep global warming below two degrees. This requires a reduction of specific production-related GHG emissions to 0.25 tonnes CO2e per tonne of saleable production by 2050. 
    • Reduce scope 3 emissions*: Mondi commits to improve data collection for its indirect GHG emissions along the value chain (Scope 3 emissions) and to set ambitious reduction targets in the field of its supply chain and transport of raw materials and products.
    • Increase renewable energy: Mondi will investigate opportunities to increase renewable energy in a sustainable way and implement them where feasible. 
    • Be an agent of change: Mondi will work actively to positively influence the paper and packaging industry to join the movement and commit to keeping their production-related greenhouse gas emissions in line with the international target to stay well below 2°C temperature increase.
    * Scope 1 emissions are direct GHG emissions from sources owned or controlled by an organization. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam. Scope 3 emissions are other indirect emissions, such as those produced through extraction and production of purchased materials and fuels, or through outsourced, transport-related activities.

    For further information please contact:
    Theresa Gral, Media Officer, WWF Austria, theresa.gral@wwf.at, +43 676 834 88 216
    Mandy Jean Woods, Communications Manager, WWF Climate & Energy Practice, mwoods@wwfint.org
    Jennifer Buley, Group Communication & Marketing, Mondi, jennifer.buley@mondigroup.com
    About WWF Climate Savers - WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. The Climate & Energy Practice is WWF's global programme addressing climate change. It includes Climate Savers, aimed at engaging the private sector nationally and internationally on implementing low carbon, climate resilient development. www.climatesavers.org
    About WWF - WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit panda.org/news for latest news and media resources.

    About Mondi - Mondi is a global leader in packaging and paper, employing around 26,000 people in over 30 countries. We are fully integrated across the packaging and paper value chain – from managing forests and producing pulp, paper and flexible plastics, to developing and manufacturing effective industrial and consumer packaging solutions. Sustainability is embedded in everything we do, with clearly defined commitments across 10 action areas. We delight our customers with our innovative and sustainable packaging and paper solutions. Our major operations are in central Europe, Russia, North America and South Africa.

    Mondi has a dual listed company structure, with a primary listing on the JSE Limited for Mondi Limited under the ticker MND and a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange for Mondi plc, under the ticker MNDI. We are a FTSE 100 constituent, and have been included in the FTSE4Good Index Series since 2008 and the JSE's Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Index since 2007.