Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Climate Change November 15, 2016 - 4:00 pm

As planet heats up, circumpolar Inuit demand help, recognition

World Meteorological Organization says 2016 likely the warmest year on record

JIM BELL
This graph, compiled from data supplied by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.K. Met Office, shows the rise in the average global temperature since 1880.
This graph, compiled from data supplied by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.K. Met Office, shows the rise in the average global temperature since 1880.
Some Canadians at the COP22 climate change conference in Marrakech, Morocco this week. NDP MP Linda Duncan, Conservative MP Ed Fast, Quebec Premier Phillipe Couillard, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, ITK President Natan Obed, and Maatalii Okalik, president of the National Inuit Youth Council. (TWITTER PHOTO)
Some Canadians at the COP22 climate change conference in Marrakech, Morocco this week. NDP MP Linda Duncan, Conservative MP Ed Fast, Quebec Premier Phillipe Couillard, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, ITK President Natan Obed, and Maatalii Okalik, president of the National Inuit Youth Council. (TWITTER PHOTO)

On the day the World Meteorological Organization and the U.K. Met Office declared that 2016 will likely become the hottest year on the planet since 1850, the Inuit Circumpolar Council demanded more recognition of Indigenous knowledge and more help in adapting to climate change.

The ICC issued the statement Nov. 14 in Marrakech, Morocco, where ICC delegates are attending the COP22 global climate change conference.

That meeting follows last December’s COP21 gathering in Paris, which produced a carbon reduction agreement among 195 participating countries. That deal, now ratified by more than 90 countries, came into force about 10 days ago.

“Paris was a step forward but real change will come when governments, implement the agreement they made one year ago,” Okalik Eegeesiak, international chair of the ICC, said in a statement.

The commitment of the United States to the Paris agreement, which was strongly backed by outgoing Democratic party president Barack Obama, is now in doubt, however.

The Republican president-elect, Donald Trump, during his campaign for election, promised to pull the U.S. out of the deal as soon as possible.

Notwithstanding that, the ICC issued a five-point set of demands Nov. 14 that focuses on climate change mitigation and helping Arctic peoples adapt.

The five points are that global leaders should:

• work to limit global temperature increases to less than 1.5 C and support research on the connection between the melting Arctic and global climate processes;

• recognize the fundamental right of Inuit to a safe and healthy environment and the right of Inuit to grant free, prior and informed consent to activities on their lands by 1) creating a working group on human rights and climate change, and 2) incorporate human rights considerations into all climate change actions;

• recognize Inuit leadership efforts on climate change and integrate Inuit and Indigenous knowledge into regional and global climate change planning and support community monitoring of climate change;

• support the participation of Inuit in climate change planning at all levels; and,

• help Indigenous peoples adapt to climate change by putting money into a fund that Inuit can access and invest in Inuit-driven renewable energy projects.

“Because of the important role that the Arctic environment plays in sustaining global climate systems and the unpredictable nature of changes occurring, there are global scale impacts of climate change in the Arctic. These are the reasons for heightened and urgent action to address climate change,” the ICC position paper said.

ICC’s human rights demand is in line with a statement the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change issued Nov. 7.

Also on Nov. 14, the World Meteorological Organization and the U.K Met Office issued assessments that predict 2016 will turn out to be the warmest year since 1850.

As a baseline, the WMO uses the period between 1961 and 1990. They estimate that the average temperature for 2016 will be 0.88 C warmer than the average recorded during that baseline period.

They also estimate that the average global temperature for 2016 will be 1.2 C higher than pre-industrial levels.

“In parts of Arctic Russia, temperatures were 6 C to 7 C above the long-term average. Many other Arctic and sub-Arctic regions in Russia, Alaska and northwest Canada were at least 3 C above average. We are used to measuring temperature records in fractions of a degree, so this is different,” said Petteri Taalas of Finland, the WMO’s secretary general.

And other climate change indicators are also breaking records this year.

“Concentrations of major greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to increase to new records. Arctic sea ice remained at very low levels, especially during early 2016 and the October re-freezing period, and there was significant and very early melting of the Greenland ice sheet,” the WMO said.

At the same time, the WMO listed a series of extreme weather events that occurred in 2016, including:

• the most damaging wildfire in Canadian history last May in and around Fort McMurray, which destroyed 2,400 buildings and inflicted $4 billion worth of damage;

• Hurricane Matthew, which killed 546 people in Haiti and injured another 438, and caused damage in Cuba, the Bahamas and South Carolina;

• floods in China’s Yangtze Basin that killed 310 people and produced $14 billion worth of damage;

• brutal droughts and heatwaves in parts of Asia and Africa, which included a high temperature of 59 C being recorded in Mitribah, Kuwait.

Besides Okalik Eegeesiak, other Canadian Inuit leaders at the COP22 gathering in Marrakesh include Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Maatalii Okalik, president of the National Inuit Youth Council, and James Eetoolook, vice president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Those four officials were to have hosted a COP22 panel discussion Nov. 17 at the Indigenous People’s Pavilion in Marrakech.

The federal environment minister, Catherine McKenna, is attending COP22 on behalf of Canada. Conservative MP Ed Fast and NDP MP Linda Duncan are also attending as part of the Canadian delegation.

Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target is still the target adopted by the previous Conservative government: an emissions reduction of 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The Marrakesh conference continues until Nov. 18.

  Inuit Circumpolar Council COP22 Statement by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

 

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