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Immediate threats facing six icons of nature

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Six icons of the natural world. One grave threat.

Fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas pose a threat to some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes and the animals and people that call them home.

Fossil fuels – our old-fashioned energy sources – are proven to pollute the environment and contribute to climate change.

Of course, there is an alternative. Energy doesn’t have to bring pollution and climate change. Renewable energy sources can provide all of the world’s energy by 2050. The technology exists, and large scale investments are already being made in renewable energy. The shift to renewables is already happening, but more must be done.

Your money – public money – is being invested in old energy

The Ineos oil refinery at Grangemouth in the Firth of Forth, Scotland, UK. The Ineos oil refinery at Grangemouth in the Firth of Forth, Scotland, UK. © Global Warming Images / WWF-Canon

Did you know that your money is being spent on the world’s most destructive energy sources?

Governments and financial institutions are investing public money – your money – in oil and gas projects which pose a threat to pristine habitats, endangered wildlife and communities around the world. And by locking us in to fossil fuel-based energy infrastructure, we only become more dependent on out-dated energy sources.

Whether through global warming or the extraction and exportation of coal and oil products, old-fashioned fuels are risking the existence of some of the world’s most spectacular sights.

We’ve chosen six icons to highlight the imminent risks they face, and we’ll be telling you more about them in the weeks ahead.

Oil and gas extraction is destroying pristine environments

Getting fossil fuels out of the ground is a messy business. Toxic materials are released into the environment by spills and leaks, and these toxins can be eaten by creatures such as the green turtle.

The majestic green turtle doesn’t know to avoid oil rigs or oil spills, so they continue feeding in oiled waters and then suffer the consequences, which include liver damage, immune suppression and anaemia.

Transporting oil is rarely simple or without risk. A new oil pipeline is proposed to cut through the Great Bear region in Canada, bisecting the coastal rainforest and carrying toxic bitumen across hundreds of pristine salmon streams to the Great Bear Sea. Oil tankers would have to navigate the treacherous coastal waters to collect the bitumen, in an area that would be difficult to reach in the case of an oil spill.

Burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming

Fossil fuels give us energy, but that energy comes with an added cost to our planet.

Icebergs and melting of reflective snow and ice, GreenlandIcebergs and melting of reflective snow and ice, Greenland. © Robert Van Waarden / WWF-Canon

Narwhals, the whales famed for their distinctive horn, are threatened because black carbon settles on ice, reducing reflectivity and accelerating melting. Narwhals, like polar bears, depend on ice for their survival.

Palawan, a beautiful island in the Philippines, lies at the heart of the Coral Triangle – which contains 40 per cent of the world’s fish and 75 per cent of the world’s corals. This incredible ecosystem is now the proposed site of a coal-fired power plant, in spite of the risks posed to the coral reef, the local fishermen and animals like the Philippine cockatoo – a critically endangered species. This is also in spite of the fact that energy produced by the coal-burning plant will be more expensive than what can be produced by renewable sources.

You can change how your money is spent

Your money is being invested in the extraction, transportation and consumption of fossil fuels.

But there is an alternative.

Renewable energy has the potential to provide all the world’s energy today.

Please add your voice to our campaign to encourage investment in renewable energy.

Seize Your Power

Discover more about these six incredible icons

In the week ahead we’ll be covering six world icons which are threatened by continued reliance on fossil fuels.

Six icons at threat:

  • Narwhal
  • The Great Bear Sea, Canada
  • Western gray whale
  • Pantelleria, Italy
  • Green turtle
  • Palawan, Philippines

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