Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Around the Arctic November 26, 2015 - 8:00 am

Inuit Circumpolar Council to promote Arctic agenda at COP 21

Inuit leaders head to Paris for start of global climate change talks Nov. 30

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
The MIK Choir of Greenland sings holiday songs for a crowd of mainly circumpolar people gathered at the North Atlantic House in Copenhagen for the Inuit and Arctic Indigenous Peoples Day held during COP 15 in Copenhagen. (FILE PHOTO)
The MIK Choir of Greenland sings holiday songs for a crowd of mainly circumpolar people gathered at the North Atlantic House in Copenhagen for the Inuit and Arctic Indigenous Peoples Day held during COP 15 in Copenhagen. (FILE PHOTO)

Inuit and Saami representatives will arrive in Paris Nov. 30 for the start of the Conference of Parties, or COP 21, the 21st annual meeting of the nation states that make up the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, where the vice president of Inuit Circumpolar Council-Canada, Herb Nakimayak, will participate as a member of the official Canadian delegation.

Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna and Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo, the federal fisheries minister, are also part of Canada’s delegation, along with Catherine McKenna, the federal minister of the environment and climate change.

“The invitation by Minister McKenna to bring circumpolar Inuit issues on climate change to this important meeting signals that the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of the Arctic on climate issues and a change in our relationship with the government. Inuit intend to support Canada in achieving an effective agreement in Paris,” Nakimayak said in a Nov. 25 ICC release.

The joint Arctic peoples delegation to Paris, headed by ICC’s international chair, Okalik Eegeesiak, holds observer status at COP 21 — which means its members won’t participate in the actual negotiations.

But its members plan to work closely with delegates from Arctic nation states like the United States, Denmark, Greenland, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia, the ICC said Nov. 25.

Norway is bankrolling the participation of the Inuit delegates, who, with delegates from the Saami Council, representing Saami in Norway, Sweden and Finland, will represent the Arctic region at the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, a global caucus for the interests of Indigenous peoples around the world at the UNFCC.

“Inuit will be in Paris to remind the world that the Arctic is the barometer of the health of the planet,” Eegeesiak said in the ICC press release.

“Any and all measures for mitigation and adaptation must correspond to acknowledge, recognize and implement human rights in national and international agreements.”

The Arctic delegation also plans to invite world leaders and delegates to Arctic Day on Dec. 8 “to celebrate and share our culture with Inuit and Saami peoples,” ICC said.

The Arctic delegation will lobby leaders and delegates to support a commitment to limit the average global temperature rise to 2 Celsius by the year 2100, through a binding agreement on cutting climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

That deal still remains the goal of COP 21, where 40,000 official delegates from 195 nations will meet until Dec. 11.

But the 2 C limit goal is not low enough, say the Indigenous peoples, who want nations to support a deal that would aim to limit warming to 1.5 C.

In the Arctic, a two-degree rise in average global temperatures would still see Arctic temperatures increase by at least 3 C to 6 C higher by 2100.

Inuit want to see “enhanced measures to stabilize greenhouse gas” so that the global temperature rise remains at 1.5 C. They also want to see support for Inuit adaptation and mitigation efforts, the use of Inuit knowledge in evidence-based decision making, and the creation of a global financing mechanism to support indigenous peoples, including Inuit, to monitor and combat climate change.

The ICC delegation will include Inuit leaders and youth representatives from three of the four Inuit regions: Maatali Okalik, president of the National Inuit Youth Council, Cathy Towtongie, the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., Reginald Joule, the former mayor of the Northwest Arctic Borough, Alaska, Lene Kielsen Holm of ICC Greenland, and Aili Liimakka Laue, also of ICC Greenland.

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