Search Results for Tag: EU
Copenhagen: is the hangover really over?
I’ve just come back from Copenhagen, where I spent a few days with a transatlantic group of journalists and climate change experts (scientists and business people).It was part of a study tour devoted to Energy, Climate and Oceans – Impacts on the Global Economy. One of the people we talked to was Lyyke Fries, the new Danish Climate and Energy Minister, who took over while her predecessor becomes EU Commissioner. “The Copenhagen hangover is over”, she told me, and said she was happy that the Copenhagen Accord was going to be a springboard for the next rounds of negotiations in Bonn and Mexico this year. She was presenting the targets entered on the UN list by the deadline (a flexible one, as UN climate chief Yvo de Boer stressed in January) as a successful step forward. At the same time she admits freely that the EU was sidelined in the creation of that accord and is trying to work out how to regain a prominent position in the climate process. She also refers to the “new world order” emerging, with countries like India, China and Brazil at the forefront.So it’s hard to believe the hangover is really over for Denmark or the EU, to mention but a few.
We also visited the Copenhagen office of Greenpeace. You won’t be surprised to hear that they have a different view of the Copenhagen Accord.
More about that and some of the interesting views put forward by North American experts and journos in the next couple of days.
DateFebruary 26, 2009 | 9:53 am
What about a non-national ecosystem-based governance system for the Arctic?
This is the 3rd of these Arctic Frontiers conferences, and there is a very impressive collection of people attending from all the sectors involved with the Arctic. Politicians, indigenous representatives, scientists, students (the conference venue is after all the world’s northernmost university), business and industry, ngos and research organisations, and even the military. It’s a great opportunity to catch up on the latest issues, research results and policies, projects and make contacts.
Tromso has traditionally been a “gate to the Arctic“ for explorers. Today, it is still one of the most important departure points – and centres of knowledge and expertise on Arctic issues.
At one point I was sitting next to a senior manager from a major technology company, discussing climate change with an activist from an ngo. He said this is an ideal forum for him to make contacts – and to talk to stakeholders in the region and find out about their concerns and requirements. It’s fair to say all points of views are represented.
One of the major themes in today’s presentations and discussions has been the decision-making or governance issue with regard to the Arctic, against the background of climate change – which is no longer being questioned by any sceptics here. The Norwegian Secretary of State from the Foreign Ministry Elisabeth Waalers, who stood in for her Minister who’s gone down with ‘flu, is convinced existing bodies, such as the Arctic Council, are sufficient to govern and regulate the use of natural resources, she says we just have to implement existing regulations better. The EU is taking a strong new interest in the Arctic, and Joe Borg, the Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, put the case for greater involvement and a coordinating role. One argument is the importance of climate change and the Arctic for the planet as a whole.
I had an interesting talk with Per Berthelsen, the Minister for Finance and Foreign Affairs of Greenland Home Rule. He has no objections to the EU having observer status on the Arctic Council, but stresses they and other “outsiders” should listen to the views and concern of the indigenous peoples who are at home in the Arctic.
The USA, as mentioned in a recent entry, came out with a new strategy in the last week of the Bush administration. The US speaker here, Jim Slutz, was in a strange position, speaking on these issues on his last day in office. Russia will probably publish a strategy soon, but the deputy minister of Natural Resources and Ecology here made no secret of his country’s interest in getting at new oil resources.
Of course WWF and Greenpeace are here to remind us all that climate change is more than just a new opportunity to exploit natural resources. They are sceptical about existing mechanisms being enough. Lindsay Keenan from Greenpeace Sweden told me he sometimes had the feeling people haven’t learnt anything from the mistakes of the past, as there is too much talk of further exploitation of positive effects of climate change rather than proposals for action to tackle it. . Greenpeace has floated the idea of a 50-year moratorium on further exploration in the Arctic, given the background of climate change – i.e. the opposite of what industry and other players are planning. Sounds like a great idea to me – but I can’t say I’m optimistic about its chances of being implemented. But as Prof. Oran Young from the Bren School of Environmental Management, Uni of California, reminded us, we all have to do our bit to stop the Arctic discussion sliding into a “big game” for “big politics” and argue for a non-national, eco-system based approach to governance.
I could write a lot more but will leave you with this summary for the moment and open my ears to some more information, while I have the chance.
DateJanuary 19, 2009 | 2:54 pm
This week’s Arctic news has been pretty drastic. The current autumn temperature is five degrees higher than the average. 2007 was the warmest year ever in the Arctic, since people started to record the temperature. The sea ice, as we know, has decreased dramatically.
This is all based on figures from NOAA, the US climate research body (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
NOAA statistics and reports
The Polarstern (translates as Pole Star), the research vessel belonging to the German polar agency AWI (Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research) returned to base after being the first research vessel to sail right round the north pole because the north-west passage was open as well as the north-east.
The Polarstern voyage around the North Pole
White ice and snow reflect heat back into the atmosphere. Water,open because the ice has melted, is darker and absorbs heat, warming the ocean further. The Arctic is heating up at an alarming rate.
“Rudy” sent a comment in to the Ice Blog. He still isn’t convinced about global warming, it seems. I’m still trying to understand how that can be and what his point of view is.
Rudy, forgive me for not publishing the comment, but it contains abridged quotes from people without the context. Without being able to check the context, I can’t put them up here.
I’m happy to pick up on some of your points, though.
You’re right. Thankfully, the Arctic was not ice-free in 2008.(I didn’t think it would be, neither did most reliable sources I follow). But sea-ice cover hit a record low in 2007 and is not recovering. The North-West passage has been open. And the warming trend is continuing. Changes in flora and fauna are being witnessed and recorded. This is happening. And things are changing fast.
You say winds and circulation are causes of sea-ice melting, not global warming. Sure, winds and circulation play an important role. Nobody would dispute that. But these factors are all connected. And the climate is changing. I’ve talked to scientists from all over the world who are desperately trying to make predictions for the future. Nobody has a crystal ball. But we know humankind is pumping masses of CO2 into the atmosphere, melting permafrost is releasing methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere at an increasing rate. Of course there are natural climate cycles. But we are having our own effect.
I was talking to some British friends this weekend, who suggested we should really get away from the misleading “global warming” talk and refer to “climate change”. Apart from the jokes about the British wanting warmer weather anyway – of course climate change manifests itself in colder weather in some places at some times. Is it just the “global warming” term that bothers you?
What bothers me right now is that our EU countries are thinking about reducing their commitment to climate-saving measures because of the global financial crisis. If we don’t take action now, we might not have a globe we can live on, let alone finances to worry about.
I wish someone could convince me that’s too pessimistic?
DateOctober 22, 2008 | 6:27 am
TagsArctic, AWI, CO2, economics, EU, NOAA, north pole, Polarstern, science, sea ice, Warming, weather