This week marks a special time in our calendar as its Polar Bear Week: our partners’ Polar Bears International’s annual event which raises awareness for the plight of Polar Bears and their habitat.
This year, Polar Bear week is even more pertinent as it coincides with COP26, as the world works together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Indeed, Polar Bear Week takes place during the annual polar bear migration to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, to wait for the sea ice to return so they can hunt their seal prey. This wait is three to four weeks longer than it was a few decades ago, straining the limits of the bears’ fat reserves. The cause of this melting sea ice? Climate change. This week, we consider our role in combatting climate change, particularly through our Polar Bear-focused projects, reflecting the goals of COP26 – on this occasion, mitigation.
In preparation for COP26, countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reduction targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of century. To deliver on these targets, countries will need to reach specific goals: accelerating the phase-out of coal, promoting investment in renewables, curtailing deforestation, and speeding up the switch to electric vehicles. For those countries already affected, and to reduce the severity and seriousness of climate change in these places, it is vital to protect and restore eco-systems as well as build defenses and warning systems. Plus, more resilient agriculture and infrastructure must be put in place to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods, and in the most serious cases, lives.
However, the world is currently not on track to limit global warming by its target of 1.5 degrees. Originally announced in Paris, the target was set because of a projected target that global warming will reach well above 3 degrees by 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels. As part of the Paris Agreement, every country agreed to communicate or update their emissions reduction targets known as their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to reach the 1.5-degree target. 2020 marks the end of the first of these five-year targets, meaning countries are expected to update their 2030 targets before C0P26 in Glasgow.
At YWPF, we do our part to tackle climate change through our Project Polar work – the largest Polar Bear project outside Canada – and aim to lead the way in educating the public about climate change by providing education programmes to communities which help to reduce carbon emissions.
Through our official Polar Bear International (PBI) Ambassador Centre at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, and partner to Polar Bear International at YWPF, we are committed to participating in research and education to address the issues which endanger polar bears and help to tackle climate change to preserve the species. Indeed, this is key to protecting polar bears- if global warming exceeds 3 degrees, this will lead to the quasi-total loss of their sea ice home. The end goal – to sustain a future for Polar Bear populations across the Arctic.
But you don’t have to be a Polar Bear International partner, or an ambassador Centre to contribute. By donating to YWPF, you’re helping to tackle climate change by supporting our conservation projects which are working to preserve and protect the environment and its inhabitants. Click here to donate.
You can also make a change at home to climate change without donating to YWPF. Our 18 degrees or below campaign was created to make a difference to global climate change one degree at a time. By encouraging everyone to ensure their home thermostat is set to 18 degrees or below, we can reduce a huge amount of C02 emissions that would otherwise be wasted! Click here to find out more about the campaign.