Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Climate Change December 04, 2012 - 2:07 pm

Arctic states call for attention to Arctic climate change at UN climate talks

"Arctic climate change is major global concern"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
United Nations climate talks are underway this week in Doha, Qatar. (PHOTO BY PENNY YI WANG/ ABOUTCOP18/CMP8)
United Nations climate talks are underway this week in Doha, Qatar. (PHOTO BY PENNY YI WANG/ ABOUTCOP18/CMP8)

While officials and world leaders continue to discuss climate change this week in one of the world’s hotter places — Doha, Qatar, the site of the latest round of United Nations climate talks — the Arctic Council member states want to keep Arctic climate change on the table.

A Dec. 6 side-event panel in Doha will see Arctic environment ministers discussing the Arctic climate’s rapid change and its global consequences with scientists and non-governmental organizations.

Several ministers from the Arctic Council member states will participate in the panel: the Swedish minister of the environment, Lena Ek, the current situation in the Arctic; Jens B. Frederiksen, Greenland´s minister of housing, infrastructure and transport; Martin Lidegaard, Danish minister of climate, energy and building; and Peter Kent, Canada’s minister of the environment.

Along with that discussion, the Arctic Council’s member states — Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States — have released a statement to the conference delegates.

In the statement, they call for the international community to take action to address short-lived “climate forcers,” such as black carbon, through cuts in emissions to slow Arctic warming.

“Arctic States will continue to spearhead these efforts,” their statement reads. “These urgent actions could significantly enhance the overall effort to substantially cut global GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions and to limit the rise of global temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius, thereby avoiding potentially irreversible changes to the Arctic and global climate.”

The melting Arctic ice sheet and land ice “will contribute significantly to global sea level rise,” they say, with the effects of Arctic climate change causing “major and irreversible impacts on the livelihood and well-being” of indigenous peoples and Arctic communities.

The Arctic Council will continue its work to observe climate change and improve “understanding of the regional and global effects of Arctic climate change on human development, adaptation and resilience in the Arctic, biodiversity and other relevant issues, and work collaboratively to find solutions,” says the statement, which also mentions the evidence of warming in the Arctic:

• rapidly diminishing Arctic sea ice: September 2012 saw the lowest sea ice extent observed in modern times and summer sea ice extent in 2012 was only half of the (1980-2000) average summer sea-ice extent;

• temperature measurements in 2012, which are consistent with the “unprecedented trends and recent record high air temperatures observed in the Arctic,” since measurements began around 1880;

• decreases in snow and ice cover and duration over the past decades, confirmed by satellite observations, Arctic resident and scientific studies; and,

• record high temperatures and surface ice melt recorded over the Greenland ice sheet in the summer of 2012.

“We are now witnessing feedbacks from changes in Arctic snow and ice conditions to the global climate system and there is justified concern that Arctic warming will spur further melting and global warming,” the statement says.

“Arctic climate change causes fundamental changes in water, snow, ice and permafrost conditions in the Arctic, with cascading effects to biodiversity, ecosystems and human living conditions in the Arctic and around the world. Arctic climate change is therefore of major global concern.”

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