COP25 ends in failure: “Our planet is on fire,” Inuit org says

UN climate change gathering can’t reach consensus on implementing 2015 Paris agreement

About 15 to 20 Iqaluit residents gathered at the Four Corners on Friday, Nov. 29, demanding action on climate change ahead of the COP25 international climate change conference in Madrid, Spain. The conference failed to reach consensus on key issues related to the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

By Jim Bell

Governments, corporations and civil society organizations must do much more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and soften the impact of global heating on the Arctic, the Inuit Circumpolar Council said at the conclusion of the COP25 climate change conference in Madrid, Spain.

Though negotiations dragged on for 48 hours beyond Dec. 13, the day the conference was supposed to end, negotiators still failed to find agreement on key issues related to the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Carolina Schmidt, Chile’s environment minister and the president of COP25 (centre, dressed in red): “The consensus is still not there to increase ambition to the levels that we need. Before finishing I want to make a clear and strong call to the world to strengthen political will and accelerate climate action to the speed that the world needs.” (UN photo)

That includes a failure to agree on rules for international trade in emissions reduction markets, rules on how to compensate poor and developing nations for loss and damage caused by climate change, and more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

One expectation of the Madrid gathering is that it would lead to the creation of a “rule book” with detailed emissions reduction targets aimed at keeping the rate of global heating below the 2 C threshold by the end of this century.

But that didn’t happen.

“I am disappointed with the results of COP25. The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis,” the secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres, said in a tweet.

In that spirit, observers and participants slammed large greenhouse gas emitters like the United States, Brazil and Australia for failing to take the climate crisis seriously.

“Never have I seen such a disconnect between what the science requires and what the climate negotiations are delivering in terms of meaningful action,” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Most of the world’s biggest emitting countries are missing in action and resisting calls to raise their ambition,” Meyer said.

The circumpolar world’s international Inuit organization also said it is disappointed by the outcome of the climate talks, which began more than 14 days ago.

“We brought informed commentary to this meeting, invoking the accelerated pace of climate change ravaging the Arctic regions of this planet—our home. We have echoed the conclusions of the IPCC’s reports in the past two weeks, collectively,” said ICC’s international chair, Dalee Sambo Dorough of Alaska.

“Our ice is melting, our oceans are at risk, and our planet is on fire,” Sambo Dorough said.

ICC pointed to disturbing numbers contained in the emissions gap report that the UN environment program released last month.

That emissions gap report showed that over the past 10 years, global greenhouse gas emissions have risen by a factor of about 1.5 per year.

If that trend continues, global average temperatures could increase by 3.2 C by the end of this century.

“This is way above the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 C and will have disastrous consequences for the world and in particular, the polar regions,” the ICC statement said.

Sambo Dorough also said climate change is becoming a human rights issue for children and youth.

“They have a right to a future,” she said.

ICC had brought a large youth delegation to the Madrid gathering, including a group of Inuvialuit youth who showed a documentary film made in and around Tuktoyaktuk titled “Happening to Us.’

That film illustrated the impact of shoreline erosion in and around Tuktoyaktuk.

“It couldn’t be more graphic,” said Crystal Martin-Lapenskie, president of the National Inuit Youth Council.

Hjalmar Dahl, the president of ICC-Greenland, acknowledged the voice of Inuit youth.

“Youth are demanding that we act. Our Inuit youth brought graphic images of our communities falling into the ocean showing us that we must all take more drastic actions to combat climate change,” Dahl said.

Lisa Koperqualuk, the international vice-president of ICC-Canada, pointed out how increased levels of carbon dioxide in the oceans are making Arctic waters more acidic, a trend that threatens sealife and the food chain.

“What needs to happen is that countries need to raise ambition and show [a] spirit of cooperation in moving the negotiations and thus implementation of [the] rule book forward,” Koperqualuk said.

COP25 was originally scheduled for Santiago, Chile. But the venue was moved to Madrid because of widespread social unrest in Chile.

But Carolina Schmidt, the Chilean environment minister, continued to be president of COP25, chairing plenary sessions and guiding discussions.

She too was disappointed by the conference’s lack of success.

“The consensus is still not there to increase ambition to the levels that we need,” Schmidt said near the end of the gathering.

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(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by Roy Donovon on

    I would agree that there is a problem but Sambo’s comments that the world is on fire are little much. Also Tuk’s shoreline is not really on the list of priorities when looks at this problem globally.

  2. Posted by Brain-washing Kids on

    Who is brainwashing our kids?

    “Cut Carbon by 90%”

    To do that here would require going back to snow igloos and seal-oil lamps. Who in Iqaluit is willing to do that?

    The kid is holding a sign to make some adult happy. I doubt he or she understands what is on that sign.

    Yes, the climate has been getting warmer. Yes, human activity has contributed. Human activity has also contributed to the betterment of the human condition – to a far greater extent than global warming has harmed the human condition.

    If you disagree, feel free to lead the movement back out onto the land.

    But don’t manipulate kids.

    • Posted by Chicken Little on


    • Posted by Crystal Clarity on

      Their are towns, cities and even countries that have already gone completely green and produce no carbon emissions at all. It is very possible. Think about the car for example….the first green car was produced in 1890 and ever since people have worked on different variations of vehicles that didn’t require carbon emitting fuels……..However they never got supported because their advancement threatened the oil industry and got quashed at every turn, laughed at, mocked, etc…. but now cars, trucks trains etc which do not use gas or diesel are growing exponentially. The “crazy scientists” which people like to mock could very well save the planet and the kids carrying the signs and banners should be listened to. They may have more sense than the arm chair critics who never pick up a book. If only Tesla were around today.

      • Posted by INUK on

        Humanity has Shelia W Cloutier, Al Gore , David Suzuki and now Greta Thurberg . I m not loosing any sleep

      • Posted by 90% Must Go on

        Crystal Clarity, I usually like your comments. This time, not so much.

        I suppose I’m tired of reading “Someone should figure out a solution to…”

        If you have a suggestion how Nunavut, or even just Iqaluit, can reduce emissions by 90%, please either share the information with the rest of us – or patent it, build a business, and make a fortune implementing your idea.

        Technology is getting better, but that 90% is still a long way off.

        Even if water power were practical and affordable here, we would still need stand-by generators, tank farms and fuel, just in case a blizzard takes down the power-line 30 km from town.

        Battery back-up works for your computer. It provides power so you can save your work and do a controlled shut-down. Batteries are expensive and they don’t tolerate cold very well. Tesla is making great strides improving them. However, I doubt that the Nunavut market is large enough to prompt Tesla to greater efforts.

        Imagine the power-line breaks on the second day of a seven day blizzard. A repair crew would not be in place until a day after the blizzard ends. Figure 10 days without power.

        We could cut our emissions by 90% – by sending 90% of the people elsewhere.

        Or, we could probably cut Nunavut’s emissions by 90% by getting Ottawa to declare and enforce a no-fly zone over Nunavut. Only flights to or from Nunavut runways would be permitted to fly over Nunavut. Over-flights would no longer be permitted. That would eliminate 90% of emissions in Nunavut.

        • Posted by Crystal Clarity on

          I was referring to Tesla the genius scientist not the company which adopted his name (although they are making great strides and are well aware of the issue of cold on batteries). The European and Western developed world has made huge strides in developing technology and policies to combat carbon emissions and all types of pollution and preserving natural resources such as forests, water, etc….. Even the Saudis who are one of the world’s biggest oil producers have the smarts to know that oil is gradually seeing the end of its days and have invested heavily in green technologies.

          The oil in the ground is not endless and maybe it will take the wells drying up for people to realize that they have no choice but to look elsewhere for an energy source.The developing/underdeveloped world is a cesspool that needs to get its act together. Central and South America, Africa, India and China are appalling. They do indeed need to step up and clean up their own backyards. But in the mean time that does not give us license to do nothing. There was a time when driving the highways in Southern Canada garbage was everywhere because people threw it out of their cars and trucks when they were driving and even emptied the back of their trucks on the side of the road complete with fridges and other appliances, old furniture etc…..You rarely see anything like that anymore and if it did happen they would be risking some pretty hefty fines. Far stricter rules and regulations have been placed on all levels of industry and manufacturing. Individuals have been encouraged to practice the 5 R’s and you can balk all you want and label anyone who pushes the green agenda as nuts but every little bit does make a difference and hopefully we will get it right sooner than later. The north is a drop in the bucket to be sure but we live on the planet and we have to do our part as well like looking at alternate power options for our homes, improving insulation etc…. turning down the thermostat, etc……

  3. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    what is America, a population of 329 million people doing?

    what is China doing, a population of 1,436,328,745, that’s 1.4 billion people doing?

    what is India doing, a population of 1,366,417,754, that’s 1.3 billion people doing?

    Nunavut has 38,780 people. a spit in the pool.

    yes, we go through a lot of fuel, but look at our options. Kugluktuk is going greener with solar panels on their new Power Plant, but the plans are only a percentage of what the Community needs. it is -34C in Kugluktkuk right now, how are you keeping warm in your home? how are your Children being driven to school (Bus?)

    Electric Vehicles are cool and I’m sure they work great. how will they work in -30C? how often will they need to be charged? how will the electricity that charges it be generated?

    yes, we have issues and we have solutions. one step at a time, yes. but let’s be realistic, we are a spit in the pool compared to what other countries are doing.

  4. Posted by Putuguk on

    This is terribly disappointing. The worst part of it is that it is a case of “do as I say, not as I do”. The organizations working on behalf of Inuit youth and in particular our public utility are no different than this global crowd in not acting enough on this.

    Iqaluit hydro remains the single greatest economically and technically feasible carbon reduction project for the Territory. This alone would dramatically reduce the carbon emissions for a quarter of our population. In the long run it will even save money.

    It is the one known practical solution staring us in the face. Quebec does it. Greenland does it. There is no reason other than intransigence that we do not follow suit.

    I think it is great that someone in Nunavut is protesting about this issue. I sure hope interspersed with the signs people are waving are calls for restarting the Iqaluit hydro project. As is the mantra of our age it should be “think global – act local”.

    Why stop at an outdoor protest? What about a sit in at the Qulliq Energy office? Jeannie Ehaloak is our Energy Minister. Has she heard this message loud and clear? There is only one reason that our institutions are not acting enough on this issue. They feel no direct political pressure.

    If Iqaluit can be powered by water, Nunavut will be in a position of greater moral authority – “Do as we say and do”. Plus, we would actually be doing something about climate change.

  5. Posted by Putuguk on

    Northern Inuit – in the 1980’s the NWT Power Corp did the initial design work for a run of river hydro project for Kugluktuk that would have taken the community off of diesel power. This was to be done by diverting and using some of the Coppermine River flow. All the innovations you mention such as electric vehicles would be useless in Kugluktuk because diesel is still burned to make that electricity.

    As with the Iqaluit Hydro project, initial engineering work was done to demonstrate it was technically feasible, and over a long term, economic. Back then, it was thought of as initially too expensive and at the same time thought to be too controversial. The plans were shelved.

    Things have changed since the 1980’s. We now know how important it is to stop burning so much fuel. It is not just about producing the cheapest electricity anymore. Some now say that the Coppermine Char run is failing due to high water temperatures. It may be a serious question to ask the public in Kugluktuk now whether any potential effects of hydro on the fish in this river would be worth it to do something about this local climate change effect.

    Qulliq Energy proposed a new diesel power plant for Kugluktuk that will soon be installed with token solar capability. As far as i am aware, they did not discuss a hydro option instead. After these new large capital costs are incurred, Qulliq will be very reluctant to look at energy alternatives for Kugluktuk for many years to come. Your community has been locked into using diesel power for a long time, whether you like it or not.

    Qulliq just made you spit in the pool.

    • Posted by Northern Inuit on

      I was not aware of the project in the 80’s. Although diverting some of the water would have had some impact, I’m sure it would have been minimal to provide alternative energy to the Community.

      QEC will have solar panels with the new power plant, I read the RFP and I cannot recall the amount of energy the Panels will offset but it is a decent amount which is great to see.

      Wind has been tried in Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay but they did have issues with them. granted they were using 90’s technology which were having numerous issues with the cold climate. but the wind technology has come a long way and it would be nice to revisit these.

      even homeowners are benefiting from solar and wind. QEC does have a program which allows you to benefit. it would be cool to check into this. I would love to see if a small investment in the home would offset your monthly power bill over time. but again, it’s the initial investment. and how would this impact your homeowners insurance if any.

      small steps. one spit in the pool at a time can make a difference.

      • Posted by Electrician on

        The theoretical capacity of the solar cells for the new power plant is significant.
        The actual peak power they will produce at noon on a summer day will be significantly less, due to the low angle of the sun in the sky.
        The total power they will provide over the course of a year will be minimal, compared to the total power consumed by the community in that year.
        I wish it were otherwise, but the laws of physics are what they are…
        I wonder if the system will be metered so as to make it possible to measure how much power is produced each year by solar and how much is produced by diesel? I also wonder if QEC will provide those measurements voluntarily, or if someone will have to file a “Freedom of Information Act” request. Time will tell.

  6. Posted by JR on

    Sorry Northern Inuit but solar and wind and “small steps” are completely useless to solve climate change or to power our communities’ ever increasing need for more reliable and affordable energy.
    One spit in the pool at a time just leaves you standing in your own drool.
    That kid is right. We need to eliminate carbon emissions, not just reduce them by a token amount.

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