Inuit org says COP21 agreement is historic, but a work in progress

“There is more work to do to safeguard the Arctic environment and Inuit culture”

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

At COP21 Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna, Inuit Circumpolar Council President Okalik Eegeesiak and Greenland's Finance, Mineral Resources and Foreign Affairs Minister Vittus Qujaukitsoq pose in front of a rendering of the iconic Eiffel Tower — made from old chairs. (HANDOUT PHOTO)


At COP21 Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna, Inuit Circumpolar Council President Okalik Eegeesiak and Greenland’s Finance, Mineral Resources and Foreign Affairs Minister Vittus Qujaukitsoq pose in front of a rendering of the iconic Eiffel Tower — made from old chairs. (HANDOUT PHOTO)

The global climate change agreement finalized Dec. 12 in Paris is “historic,” Okalik Eegeesiak, chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, said in a news release, but she said she also acknowledges that it’s a compromise.

“Progress was made,” Eegeesiak said.

“But there is more work to do to safeguard the Arctic environment and Inuit culture. Inuit will need to be vigilant to support international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas levels are reduced, that funding is available for Arctic climate adaptation projects and that Inuit are part of the climate change solution.”

Eegeesiak led the circumpolar Inuit delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) talks in Paris, which ended Dec. 12 with the adoption of the Paris agreement.

“These negotiations were tremendously difficult, but in the end we made progress,” Eegeesiak said in the release. “However, the real test will be the commitments of states to recognize the rights of Indigenous peoples, address climate change action and affect real change in Arctic communities”.

Eegeesiak said that ICC would continue to will work with Canada, Greenland, Alaska and Chukotka “to meet and exceed the commitments, support indigenous communities and make certain the Arctic remains cold.”

ICC had lobbied at COP21 for more inclusion of Indigenous peoples in the agreement, for the financing of climate adaptation and mitigation projects for Indigenous peoples and the recognition of Indigenous peoples’ knowledge.

And ICC had also lobbied fort he need to stabilize global temperature increase to 1.5 C as opposed to the more globally accepted 2 C, Eegeesiak said.

The final Paris Agreement text states that nations commit to “…holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 C.”

In the Arctic that temperature rise is expected to be two to three times more.

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