Record-breaking temperatures signal need for urgent action

Canada must take next steps to safeguard wildlife and habitat

TORONTO, Jan. 18, 2017 /CNW/ - Today, as NASA and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2016 as the hottest year on record, WWF-Canada has the following statements:

David Miller, president and CEO:
"The demand for an immediate and wholesale transition to a low-carbon economy couldn't be more urgent. Pricing carbon is an essential first step. Now it's time to fulfil our G20 commitment to phase out subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and shift those funds to habitat-friendly renewable energy development and job training for Canadians who depend on the energy industry for their livelihood. Time is running out." 

James Snider, vice-president of science, research and innovation:
"Since 1970, we have witnessed a 58 per cent decline in vertebrate wildlife populations around the world, and we're on track to lose 67 per cent by 2020 if we don't make dramatic changes to how we live, including how we fuel our economy. We've pushed the Earth past its limit in terms of climatic systems. Climate change not only contributes directly to wildlife population declines, but – even worse – it exacerbates other factors such as habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution and over-exploitation, accelerating already frightening losses to biodiversity."

Paul Crowley, vice-president of Arctic conservation:
"The world watched in disbelief as Arctic temperatures soared above normal, and as sea ice failed to materialize in the Arctic Ocean, resulting in unprecedented lows in terms of ice thickness and extent. Humanity has already committed the Arctic, its wildlife and people to profound warming and habitat loss. From plummeting barren-land caribou populations to melting permafrost, we are witnessing the resulting changes first hand. And we are crying out for help. If we fail to do everything in our power now to slow warming, the losses will be catastrophic. What's more, change won't be limited to Arctic land- and seascapes. Because of the interconnected nature of Earth's systems and the role the Arctic Ocean plays in global climate regulation, changes here are likely to trigger a global chain reaction."

Elizabeth Hendriks, vice-president of freshwater conservation:
"Canadians view freshwater – not oil and gas, or minerals – as the most important and valuable natural resource this country has. What's more, Canadians rank climate change as the top threat to our freshwater supply. WWF-Canada's Watershed Assessments show that Canadians are right to be concerned: Of the 19 watersheds already assessed (out of 25), climate change has emerged as a significant threat in eight, including in the Assiniboine-Red, Winnipeg and Northern Ontario watersheds. In future, Canadians can expect to see water shortages, drought, floods and increased river and lake temperatures, which will have harmful consequences for species such as salmon that are dependent on cold-water ecosystems as they spawn."

Megan Leslie, vice-president of oceans conservation:
"Warming temperatures and increased acidification of the world's oceans due to climate change put already vulnerable marine wildlife – such as cod, forage fish, whales and sea birds – at even greater risk. As Canada strives toward the goal of protecting 10 per cent of our oceans, it's essential we create a network of connected areas with meaningful protections, thereby allowing for the movement of marine wildlife already under way in response to climate change."

By the numbers (according to NASA):

  • Nine of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000.
  • Carbon dioxide levels in the air are at their highest in 650,000 years.
  • Arctic sea ice is declining at a rate of 13.3 per cent per decade.
  • Global average sea-level rise is 17.8 cm (7 inches) over the past 100 years.

About World Wildlife Fund Canada
WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more information, visit


For further information: For further information and interview requests, please contact: Sarah MacWhirter, senior manager strategic communications,, +1 416-347-1894


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