Inuit leaders in Paris attempt to raise Arctic issues at COP21
“We must now, collectively, work together to find solutions,” ITK’s Natan Obed says
When world leaders opened the COP21 climate change conference Nov. 30 in Paris, Inuit who listened closely included leaders like Natan Obed, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
After attending the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Nunatsiavut land claims agreement in Nain, Obed heads to Paris Dec. 2.
There, Obed will take part in Canada’s official delegation to the United Nations climate change talks, which will “decide the very future of the planet,” French President François Hollande said Nov. 30 in his opening remarks.
During COP21, the 21st annual meeting of the nation states that make up the UN Framework on Climate Change, more than 40,000 diplomats and delegates from 195 nations will try to craft a global agreement to limit the average global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius by the year 2100.
“We must now, collectively, work together to find solutions to not only mitigate the further progression and impacts of climate change, but to provide support to those who are already facing direct and significant impacts,” Obed said in a Nov. 30 ITK release.
“Paris is a key climate summit, and I will be focused on contributing to Canada’s presence by working on creating positive outcomes for the Arctic, which in turn will benefit all nations.”
The vice president of Inuit Circumpolar Council-Canada, Herb Nakimayak, is also a member of the official Canadian delegation, along with Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna and Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo, the federal fisheries minister.
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 the Arctic delegation will lobby leaders and delegates to support a commitment to limit the average global temperature rise to 2 C by the year 2100 through a binding agreement to cut climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
Eegeesiak, who met Nov. 30 with U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Canada’s climate change minister Catherine McKenna, also plans to meet Dec. 2 with Hollande to talk with him about ICC’s call to curb the world’s rising temperatures.
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.
So Inuit want to see “enhanced measures to stabilize greenhouse gas” so that the global temperature rise remains at 1.5 C.
Inuit 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 includes 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.
The Arctic delegation will participate in a Dec. 8 Arctic Day event and in the “Arctic Encounter Paris” conference, a three-day event whose speakers include Nunavut’s premier, environment minister and NIYC President Okalik.
Arctic Encounter Paris 2015 is the only Arctic-related policy and economics side event to take place during the COP21, the event’s website says.
More than 500 participants are expected at Arctic Encounter Paris, which will be the third largest COP21 side-event and third largest Arctic policy gathering of 2015.
If you’re curious to see what’s going on in Paris — and have the bandwidth to do that, you can listen in to webcasts from the Le Bourget conference centre here.