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Climate Change in the Arctic & around the globe

Arctic Futures up for Debate

Arctic palm trees

Arctic landscape with palm fronds?


I am in Brussels at the moment for a symposium being held by the International Polar Foundation looking at future scenarios for the Arctic. It has been an interesting day with representatives from the Arctic countries giving their perspectives on Arctic change and what consequences it is likely to have. With the future of energy resources as one of the key topics, it is hardly surprising that Greenpeace were demonstrating outside the conference venue this morning, drawing attention to their campaign to save the Arctic from oil drilling. The official representatives of the Arctic nations left no doubt about their interest in easier access and exploring for oil and gas. Quite a few members of the audience seemed to have the impression there was too much talk of business as usual. That sparked off a discussion on the extent to which the Arctic is special and in need of urgent attention. Some of the participants tried to get the panelists to comment on the paradox of getting at more fossil fuels which will produce more greenhouse gas emissions and further exacerbate climate change. The panelists, in my view, were not willing to take this on board. In the discussions and some of the interviews I did, for instance with Gustaf Lind, the Swedish ambassador to the Arctic and current chair of the senior Arctic officials group, I discerned a strong will on the part of the government representatives to separate the issues of Arctic drilling and climate negotiations. Now that, it seems to me, would just be too much of an easy way out and avoiding the issue at the heart of climate change.

The one thing everybody agrees on so far is that the Arctic is warming fast and there are going to be big changes – even if we stopped emitting tomorrow. More soon…


October 4, 2012 | 8:22 pm