Tag Archives: wwf


A dummies guide to biodiesel

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February is the month of love, so today we are loving alternative energy and take a look at biodiesel. What is it? What are the advantages? What are the issues that are being debated around it? And if you’re feeling adventurous, we show you how to make your own biodiesel! What are your feelings on the ‘food versus fuel’ debate? Do you think biofuels can play an important role in cutting our global carbon emissions, or is yet another way for large corporations to trash the planet in the name of being green? Continue reading

Humans need two planets to sustain current way of living

WWF released their 2010 Living Planet report last week. This report calculates humanity’s “ecological footprint” – the amount of resources we use and the amount of waste we create. The findings are a stark reminder that we need to change the way we live and the choices we make.

We are living beyond the capacity of the planet, pumping more CO2 than the earth can absorb, using up resources quicker than they can be regenerated. If we continue this rate of consumption by 2030 we would need two planets to sustain us.

But we only have one.

“Humanity’s demands exceed our planet’s capacity to sustain us. That is, we ask for more than we have.”

“The unprecedented drive for wealth and well-being of the past 40 years is putting unsustainable pressures on our planet” WWF Director General James Leape.

These are some hard facts from the report:
• 2 million tons of sewerage and effluent drain into the world’s water every day
• 1.8 billion people use the Internet, but 1 billion people do not have access to clean water
• It takes 140 litres of water to produce a cup of black coffee
• It takes 200 litres of water for a latte with sugar
• There are more tigers in captivity than in the wild
• Developing countries dump 70% of untreated industrial waste into water sources
• Billions of people get their drinking water directly from rivers and lakes
• 70% of commercial marine fish are threatened from over fishing
• The world’s carbon output has increased by 11 times since 1961
• 13 million hectares of forest were destroyed between 2000 and 2010; 15% of carbon emissions come from deforestation
• Subsidies in energy, fishing and agriculture drive over consumption and are harmful to humanity
• Our survival means making fundamental changes to our economies
• To live sustainable we need to make big changes in energy and food
• It is possible to provide renewable energy for all
• We need to set aside 15% of land for conservation

We can all make a difference by making small changes in our daily lives. We just need to dare to change!

You can work out your carbon footprint using the Carbon Footprint Calculator on our website.

How to reduce your carbon footprint
Avoid buying bottled water – drink tap water instead. It takes 3 times as much water to make a bottle as it does to fill it. A litre of bottled water generates up to 600 times more Carbon Dioxide (CO2) than a litre of tap water. More info

Have a meat-free day once per week – 1kg of beef has a carbon footprint of 19kg CO2; 1kg of potatoes has a carbon footprint of 0.28 kg CO2


Buy less stuff! About 90% of stuff is discarded within 6 months after being made. Use this handy checklist before buying something:
1. Is this purchase something I need?
2. Do I already own something that will serve the same purpose?
3. Can I borrow one instead of buying new?
4. Can I make something that will serve the same purpose?
5. Can I buy a used one?
6. Can I buy or commission one made locally?
7. Can I buy one that was made with environmentally responsible
8. Can I compost or recycle it when I’m done with it?
9. What is the impact on the environment of the full life cycle of
10. Does the manufacture or disposal of it damage the environment?

Local is Lekker: buy locally produced fruit and vegetables in season. Avoid buying food that is packaged excessively, like bananas wrapped in plastic!

Drive less, start walking and cycling more. Driving a fuel efficient car can play a huge part in reducing your carbon footprint. More information. Driving a 5km/l 4×4 rather than a 10km/l car for a year will waste more energy than

Leaving the fridge door open for 7 years
Leaving the TV on for 32 years
Leaving the bathroom light on for 34 years

Start thinking about how you use energy. Change those light bulbs, turn off those phone chargers! More info

Start a compost bin at home and start recycling your waste. Click here for a list of recycling depots in Cape Town


NGO’s write benchmark Copenhagen climate treaty!

Dear friends,

A proposal for a Copenhagen Agreement has been drafted by global NGO’s IndyAct, David Suzuki Foundation, German Watch, WWF and Greenpeace.

Drafted as a proposal and vision for what the Copenhagen Agreement to be reached in December of this year could look like, the draft agreement is intended to provide a holistic and coherent model treaty but also to initiate discussion. To view a pocket guide to the agreement or full text, visit WWF, or download a copy here.

The agreement opens with a strong message about the fact that our window of opportunity for limiting climate change is closing and therefore ‘unprecedented international cooperation and commitment is required.’ The proposed treaty brings together the need for ambitious and urgent action on adaptation and emissions reductions with the transformation of technology, the preservation of forests and the acceleration of sustainable development. All of these driven by both science and equity.

“This is the first time in history that a coalition of civil society groups has taken such a step. Together we have produced the most coherent legal document to date showing balanced and credible climate solutions based on equity and science” said Kim Carstensen of WWF International.

The NGO Proposal moves beyond pointing out to developed nations that they have a responsibility to agree to a global deal that is fair to simply point out exactly what such a deal between 192 countries would look like. All that is needed is for all parties to put aside their selfish agendas, keep an open mind and show real dedication to concluding a just, effective, science-based agreement so that we have some chance of keeping global temperature rise well below 2 degrees celcius.

The Copenhagen Climate Treaty includes:

  • The annual global carbon budget in 2020 from all sources of greenhouse gases (not counting those controlled by the Montréal Protocol) would be no higher than 36.1 Gt CO2e, bringing emissions down to roughly1990 levels and would need to be reduced to 7.2 Gt CO2e in 2050, in other words by 80 % below 1990 levels.
  • A design proposal for a new institution – the Copenhagen Climate Facility – to manage the processes for emissions cuts, adaptation and forest protection under the new global treaty.
  • A recipe for long-term action plans for both developed countries (Zero Carbon Action Plans – ZCAPs) and developing countries (Low Carbon Action Plans – LCAPs).
  • Binding targets for Newly Industrialized Countries (NIC’s) like Singapore, South Korea and Saudi Arabia in line with the Convention principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Failure to agree in Copenhagen will only serve to accelerate all the consequences of runaway climate change that Scientific knowledge so clearly shows us. A deal in Copenhagen is a small step for governments, but a big step for humanity.

WWF press release, 8th June 2009.


Costing a 2020 target for 15% renewable electricity in South Africa

“Reaching a 15% renewable target by 2020 will not cost the earth…”

This is one of the key findings in a recent study by Dr Andrew Marquard, Bruno Merven and Emily Tyler from the Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town.

Commissioned by the Climate Change Programme of WWF South Africa, the study explores the implications of a renewable energy target for South Africa to generate 15% of electricity from renewable resources by 2020. The report highlights the effects of 15% renewable electricity on the total cost of electricity production, investment in electricity infrastructure, and national greenhouse gas emissions.

Marthinus business as usual quote

The study assumed that delivery of the target (15%) will begin in 2015, when the first renewable plants will come on-line and produce 2.5% of South Africa’s electricity, which will increase linearly until reaching 15% in 2020. A number of scenarios were modelled to explore various ways in which the target of 15% could be met. These scenarios were

  • Case 1: Wind power modelling using the same assumptions as the Long Term Mitigation Scenarios (LTMS) on South Africa’s wind resource.
  • Case 2: Wind power modelling using new and more optimistic research on SA’s wind resource.
  • Case 3: Model constrained to use an equal amount of wind and Concentrating Solar Power (CPS) using the more optimistic wind resource assumptions.
  • Case 1A, 2A, 3A: same as above, but in conjunction with a demand-side (consumer use) efficiency programme.

Table 2 new generation capacity

In Table 2 above, the model, in the reference case (the baseline), shows additional capacity of of just over 12GW required up to 2020. Wind options require more installed capacity to ensure the same availability. In the scenarios with an energy efficiency programme, between 57% and 94% of coal capacity is displaced.

Costs for study have been calculated using two approaches. Firstly, by using the method employed in the LTMS to estimate the cost of mitigation, and secondly by using the model output to calculate direct costs in the electricity sector from the input costs. The three cost measures that were used are: 1. Investment costs, 2. Total undiscounted annual electricity production costs, and 3. Average annual electricity production costs per kilo Watt hour.

Table 8 power sector investment requirements

Table 8 above: * All costs are expressed in 2003 Rands. Costs can be converted to 2008 Rands by multiplying the relevant PPI ratio (in this case, about 180/124, where 180 is an estimate of the PPI for 2008).

The study concludes that a renewable energy target of 15% for 2020 comprising wind and solar thermal energy, particularly combined with energy efficiency programmes, will provide significant greenhouse gas mitigation, together with air quality, health and eco-system service co-benefits to South Africa.

There are also opportunities for the South Africa to develop a competitive advantage in solar thermal technologies, and establish South Africa industry and technicians as front-runners in this area of the rapidly expanding renewable energy sector!

This study is long overdue, and makes a strong case for renewables, especially with the potential direct employment benefits and job creation opportunities that renewable energy generation and technologies could provide (as per a study conducted by AGAMA Energy in 2005).

Well done to the research team! To read the full study overview, visit WWF – South Africa, or download a copy here.

Richard Worthington WWF

Cut Carbon. Dare to change!