Inuit org wants “immediate and drastic” cuts to greenhouse gas emissions

UN panel predicts dramatic, unstoppable changes for the Arctic

A report by the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts the Arctic and its peoples will experience dramatic, unstoppable change by the end of this century. (File photo)

By Jim Bell

The Canadian wing of the Inuit Circumpolar Council is calling for immediate cuts to global greenhouse gas emissions, following the release of a new United Nations panel report on the future impact of climate change on the planet’s oceans and ice-covered regions.

“Immediate and drastic measures are needed to curb global GHG emissions,” ICC-Canada’s president, Monica Ell-Kanayuk, said in a statement.

The report, released on Sept. 25 in Monaco, predicts the Arctic and its peoples will experience dramatic, unstoppable change by the end of this century.

Prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the report summarizes the latest scientific evidence on the impact of climate change on oceans and the cryosphere.

“The rapid changes to the ocean and the frozen parts of our planet are forcing people from coastal cities to remote Arctic communities to fundamentally alter their ways of life,” Ko Barrett, vice-chair of the IPCC, said in a statement.

The “cryosphere” means those parts of the Earth that contain snow cover, glaciers, ice sheets, ice shelves, icebergs, sea ice, lake ice, river ice, permafrost, and seasonally frozen ground.

Loss of sea ice, rising seas

The projected changes will include accelerating decreases in sea ice extent, infrastructure damage caused by melting permafrost, and a greater risk of food- and waterborne diseases.

In many areas, rising sea levels will threaten communities, and storms will increase in number and intensity.

And even if greenhouse gas emissions were “sharply reduced,” sea levels will continue rising for centuries, fed by melting glaciers, ice caps and sea ice.

“It could reach around 30 to 60 centimetres by 2100, even if greenhouse gas emissions are sharply reduced and global warming is limited to well below 2 C, but around 60 to 110 centimetres if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase strongly,” the report said.

That 110-centimetre sea-level increase projection is greater than one metre.

Also, the oceans are getting warmer.

That’s because they’ve absorbed 90 per cent of the excess heat generated by the planet’s climate system.

This is already causing more acidification, and a loss of the oxygen and nutrients that sea life requires, causing big changes to fish and sea-creature populations.

Disruptions to Indigenous harvesting

“Shifts in the distribution of fish populations have reduced the global catch potential. In the future, some regions, notably tropical oceans, will see further decreases, but there will be increases in others, such as the Arctic,” the IPCC said.

For the Indigenous peoples of the Arctic, the expected changes mean disruptions to hunting, fishing and gathering that will harm livelihoods and cultural identity.

And the report’s cryosphere findings are that Arctic sea ice is declining at a more rapid rate than previously projected.

“If global warming is stabilized at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the Arctic ocean would only be ice-free in September—the month with the least ice—once in every hundred years. For global warming of 2°C, this would occur up to one year in three,” the report found.

The report says this could affect global trade and economies linked to traditional shipping corridors, and poses risks to Arctic marine ecosystems and coastal communities.

Also, permafrost is thawing rapidly.

“Even if global warming is limited to well below 2 C, around 25 per cent of the near-surface (three-to-four-metre depth) permafrost will thaw by 2100. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase strongly, there is a potential that around 70 per cent near-surface permafrost could be lost,” the report said.

And this already means Indigenous peoples are adjusting their travelling and hunting activities, and adapting in other ways, depending on funding, capacity and institutional support.

Report vindicates Inuit messages

For the Canadian wing of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the report vindicates what Inuit have said for years.

“This report proves what Inuit have been saying for decades. Warming oceans and air mean reduced ice coverage, rising sea levels, contributing to flooding in low lying areas, and the erosion of our shorelines resulting in massive relocations of infrastructure and people,” Ell-Kanayuk said.

Ell-Kanayuk also pointed out that the impacts on Inuit are compounded by non-climate factors like social inequities.

So ICC-Canada wants the world’s governments to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially at the next UN conference on climate change, COP25, which is scheduled for Santiago, Chile, this December.

Paul Crowley, who is vice-president of the World Wildlife Fund-Canada’s Arctic program, said the IPCC report unfortunately confirms the warnings that environmental activists have issued for years.

“It’s the whole package that’s worrisome. It’s the whole thing. It’s the layers of impact. One of them may be manageable, but when you add on more, it becomes unmanageable and harder to understand,” he said.

But at the same time, the climate crisis creates an opportunity for the peoples of the Arctic to act as watchdogs.

“It’s the opportunity to be the eyes and ears of the Arctic for the world and to understand, through guardians programs for, say, the new national marine conservation area at Tallurutiup Imanga and potentially for the protected area of Tuvaijuittuq. There’s an opportunity there to set up a conservation economy,” Crowley said.

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(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by Then Stop going to meetings on

    Then stop flying all around and going to meetings. If you know what telephone s are use them. FaceTime Skype what ever to stop you from flying to meetings.

    • Posted by CLIMATE CHANGE on

      That s so true , how our (including southern) politicans seem to live the jetset life, yet they preach to us about saving the enviroment

    • Posted by You are Right! on

      I agree with your comment or statement. All the world leaders who are speaking of this climate change do fly throughout the world and you have scary men like SOROS paying people off to place fear into people. Do they not know that flying in your private planes and jets are causing more damage to the environment. Or multimillionaires who have multi million dollar yachts that cruise around the world are destroyer the water ways by the pollution these machines emit. Or what about the big farmers with green houses who are using diesel machnes to help with their green house growth. Why do the left believe that all people are uneducated and imbeciles? Just another scare tactic. Some people are so Gullible. I am sorry to say that Inuit are harvesters of land and sea and they do notice the weather changes does not make them EXPERTS on CLIMATE CHANGE.

  2. Posted by Fear Mongering? on

    This is a bunch of nonsense.
    Climate Change is a man made word to place fear into all people especially the North American people.
    Our Planet has been in a constant change since the world began.
    High Winds equals tornadoes.
    Low / High Pressure equals Rain or snow.
    The ice at the North / South Pole has always built up or melted over the years.
    For example the last ice-age.
    Bad weather over a number of years or a meteor striking the earth causing a complete blackout that killed others specials of mammals and fish.
    The snow caps and glaciers melt.
    The over population of people.
    No it is not the cow farts that is causing climate change.
    Look at the core of the earth.
    Volcanoes seeping off dangerous toxins.
    Volcanoes erupting causing countless tonnes of toxic gases into the environment.

    Use your common sense.
    Go to school.
    Get an education.
    Get your edumacation to allow yourself to think for yourself.
    Don’t be a Follower of those who talk lies.
    Since the Dawn of Time Our Earth has been warm, hot, cold and extremely cold.
    Don’t get suckered in by a group of people who are placing fear into your hearts and also who are looking to become Rich on these Scare Tactics.

    • Posted by Gobble Gobble on

      “Climate Change is a man made word”. I guess opposed to all of those… naturally occurring words?

    • Posted by What a ? on

      Hypocrite? Maybe you should edumacate yourself on accelerated climate change, greenhouse gases and continuous harmful emissions. The oceans are warming at an unnatural rate.
      If ignorance is bliss, you must be very happy.

  3. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    It is disheartening to read the drivel from “Fear Mongering?”.
    Let’s get a few things straight, there is a difference between weather (local conditions), and climate (global). The vast majority of climate scientists (about 98%) concur that the Earth’s climate is warming at an alarming rate. This is caused by mankind releasing Greenhouse Gasses (GHG’s) into the environment. The data is irrefutable.
    If we continue to produce/release GHGs into the environment the global climate will continue to warm. At a certain point there will be no way to reverse the warming and the Earth’s temperature will continue to go up to a level where many forms of life will not be able to adapt to the new warmer level.
    Many maybe even most forms of life will die out. This includes the plants and animals that support mankind. When/how this will happen is still open for debate, but the science is solid. If we do nothing Humanity will die.
    If you care about your children, their children, and generations to come everyone will have to change how we live. You are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

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