WWF report warns of threat to Welsh puffins from global warming
A report from the WWF has warned of a critical threat to Welsh puffins from global warming.
The conservation organisation has called on the Welsh Government to deliver strong commitments on tackling climate change ahead of the COP26 climate summit.
The new report Feeling the Heat: The fate of nature beyond 1.5°C of global warming, outlines the impacts of climate change.
It highlights 12 species from around the world that are already experiencing the impacts of climate change; from puffins on the Welsh coast, to penguins in the frozen wilderness of Antarctica, to moneys in the Amazon jungle.
According to the WWF, climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme events, such as heatwaves, floods, droughts and wildfires, as well as warming oceans and rising sea levels, putting species and their homes under greater pressure.
Many animals and plants cannot cope with the impact of the changing environment on their habitats, where food and water becomes scarcer and the seasons shift.
In Wales, the much-loved iconic birds, the puffin is starting to feel the heat. Warmer waters mean the food chain will be pushed out of sync depriving the puffins of their food source.
A rise in temperature will see bluebells blooming out of sync with the seasons, which could see them become a distant memory as conditions become inhospitable. Bumblebees are overheating as they work hard to pollinate plants and crops.
Further afield, snow leopards, sea turtles, frogs, coral, hippos and coffee plants are all at risk if global warming continues at its current rate.
The WWF says it wants to see what it calls nature-based solutions being used to mitigate climate change and to benefit people and nature.
Its report highlights four projects around the world, including the restoration of seagrass meadows in Pembrokeshire. It is the biggest seagrass restoration project ever undertaken in the UK and has seen 1 million seeds planted in Welsh waters.
The WWF says the Welsh Labour’s manifesto commitment to “establish a targeted scheme to support restoration of seagrass habitats along Wales” coastline’ is huge step forward.
It wants the newly-formed Welsh Government to set out the scale of its commitment to tacking the issue, including a set target area for the new seagrass it intends to create and restore along with investment to deliver it.
Jessica McQuade, Head of Policy and Advocacy at WWF Cymru said: “If we are to secure a future for some of Wales and the planet’s most iconic species and habitats then 2021 must be a turning point in tackling the climate and nature crisis.
“Wales, alongside other countries must seize the chance at COP26 to build a fairer, greener future with nature at its heart.
“With the eyes of the world on COP26, Wales has an opportunity to show what its new Climate Ministry is capable of by sharing an action plan with the world outlining the steps it will take to cut harmful emissions and reach net zero by 2050.
“This must recognise nature’s critical role in tackling emission reduction. – programmes which invest in nature restoration such as seagrass meadows, will not only help reduce emissions but also provide a much-needed habitat for nature.”
Within a human lifetime, there have already been extraordinary and unparalleled changes to our planet. Global wildlife populations have fallen an average of 68 per cent since 1970, while 2020 marked the end of the hottest decade on record.
WWF warns that the current trajectory for the climate will create an unsafe home for people and nature, with every half-degree increase in temperature bringing additional pressures.
It says the report outlines why it is essential for the UK government, as hosts of the critical UN climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November, to ensure the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C is kept on the table.
According to the charity, current pledges are projected to lead to a temperature rise of 2.4°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century and would be catastrophic for people and for nature.