Melting ice stats don’t sway Greenland premier
Kuupik Kleist says country needs chance to develop
COPENHAGEN — Former United States vice-president Al Gore lent his star power to the Dec. 14 release of a new report containing dire new information about how rapidly the world’s snow and ice is melting, when he appeared at the United Nations climate change conference.
But Gore’s exaggerated statement that there’s “a 75 per cent chance the entire polar ice cap will melt in summer within the next five to seven years,” didn’t sway Greenland’s premier, Kuupik Kleist.
Kleist maintains Greenland has the right to pursue industrial development and offer its citizens more access to jobs, education, health care and independence— even if that means substantially increasing its production of climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
Kleist didn’t see any conflict between this stance and the slide of a huge piece the Ilulissat’s glacier crashing into the water that was flashed on the screen during Gore’s presentation.
Kleist said he’d like to see a “global view” on emission cuts in the new climate change agreement, expected Dec. 18 at the end the United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen.
But he said the new deal won’t end the demand for industrial goods in the world tomorrow, and supplying these goods could mean financial independence for Greenland.
And for rich, industrialized countries to decide Greenland must stop developing and not help supply these goods constitutes a kind of “moral degradation,” he said.
Kleist’s ideal climate change deal would allow places like Greenland, with little industrial development, to produce more greenhouse gas emissions than the rich nations of the world so they can catch up— a principle widely supported by the 130 developing nations at the climate change meeting.
The only difference between Greenland and the other developing regions of the world is that “we see ice melting,” Kleist said.
The new report on ice and snow points to much more of that kind of view for everyone in Greenland.
“Melting snow and ice: a call for action,” prepared by the Norwegian Polar Institute, provides even more evidence that snow and ice melt is accelerating in all snow and ice covered regions: the Arctic, Antarctic and the Himalayas.
Dec. 14 also saw the launch of second report, “The Greenland ice sheet in a changing climate,” produced by the Arctic Council, which says ice sheet is thinning at the same time as glaciers are dump more ice into the ocean.
On Dec. 14, the emission cuts on the negotiating table were still not enough to keep the global temperature increase under four degrees Centigrade, which leading scientists say may lead to a temperature increase of as high as 16 C in the Arctic.
Gore and Norway’s minister of foreign affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre, said all governments need to agree to making progressively deep cuts to their emissions as well as take immediate action to reduce other pollutants, such as soot produced by agricultural burning.
When pressed, Denmark’s minister foreign affairs gave a half-hearted endorsement of Greenland’s desire for more development, saying that this could include low-impact industries such as tourism.