Meeting today in Washington, President Obama together with leaders of the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland Norway, and Sweden made some important commitments to Arctic conservation. Together these countries make up the majority of the Arctic Council.
In keeping with their recognition of climate change as a key international threat, the leaders committed to extend their influence over policy and finance to promote renewable energy and decrease carbon footprints.
They also made several commitments that were specific to the Arctic.
“We were particularly pleased to see the leaders commit to science-based protection and conservation of ecologically important habitats,” said Alexander Shestakov, Director of WWF’s Global Arctic Programme. “They had already committed to developing a network of marine protection through the Arctic Council, but this adds commitment to conservation of freshwater and land too, and it will take into account ecological resilience.”
The leaders also made commitments to exercising highest standards, best practices and the precautionary approach to new and existing commercial activities in the Arctic, including oil and gas.
WWF looks forward to these commitments being nailed down in national legislation and policy, along with other commitments jointly made through the Arctic Council. We also look forward to the commitments being carried further through the Arctic Council’s work, as Finland and Iceland follow the US as next two chairs on the Council.
Madrid, Spain - The longest UNFCCC COP session ever ended Sunday morning with big emitting countries - like the United States, China, India, Japan, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and others - shirking their responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as they blocked progress in Madrid.
Next week’s release of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) coincides with another bad year for the Arctic. This summer saw record heatwaves across the region, unprecedented wildfires and reports of marine ecosystem collapse. So, what is the cryosphere and what do we expect the SROCC report to tell us about the current state and future of our frozen places?