“The Arctic climate matters: to what degree?”, a Sting Exclusive co-authored by UN Environment’s Jan Dusik and Slava Fetisov

Iceberg Global Warming Arctic IPCC 2018

Iceberg in Disco Bay, Greenland. The Ilulissat Icefjord in Disco Bay is one of the World’s fastest flowing glaciers and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is located 250km North of the Arctic Circle and it accounts for 10% of the production of Greenland’s calf ice. The Icebergs from the Ilulissat Icefjord are the largest to be found in the Arctic. Latest research concludes that ice loss from both Greenland and Antarctica is accelerating, and that the ice sheets’ impact on sea level rise in the first half of the 21st century will be substantially higher than previous studies had projected. Source: https://bit.ly/2IOTRTq |Year: 2015 | Photographer: Peter Prokosch

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Jan Dusik, UN Environment Principal Adviser for the Arctic and Antarctic and Mr. Slava Fetisov, UN Environment Patron for Polar Regions. The opinions expressed in this article belong to the distinguished writers.

This week is undoubtedly a crucial one for climate diplomacy globally, especially in Europe and the Northern Hemisphere. According to the special report adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and released this week, the Arctic is already warming two to three times higher than the global average. The scientific panel also warns that global warming beyond 1.5 degrees will bring a disproportionally higher risk of adverse consequences to disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, indigenous peoples, and local communities dependent on agricultural or coastal livelihoods, as well as some regions including the Arctic ecosystems.

The European Union environment and climate ministers met on Tuesday in Luxembourg to finalise the block’s position for the climate talks in Katowice. They confirmed the gravity and urgency of the IPCC conclusions and the importance of decisive action to implement the Paris agreement in the upcoming global climate conference in the Polish coal town of Katowice. They also set new vehicle emission reduction targets. But neither the Paris agreement, nor the current EU commitments suffice to bring us to an acceptable 1,5-degree trajectory. We are running out of time quickly and the point of no return is clearly visible.

And right now, Arctic environment ministers are meeting in Rovaniemi, just above the Arctic circle, to agree on how they can tackle the global impacts on the Arctic and the links between climate, pollution and biodiversity in the region. An old Northern saying goes: what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. But the Arctic is not only a place where ice is accumulated, it is also a region of increasing economic and trade development and opportunities.  Arctic nations need to make important choices to adjust those developments to the 1.5-degree scenario, and to protect the livelihoods of the local indigenous communities. Arctic politicians should also drum a collective call to the world to save the Arctic from the drastic impacts of global warming: something which requires all countries of the world to act – waiting for the others to move first is not an option anymore.

To amplify this alarm bell, UN Environment will be convening the Last Game at the North Pole, a unique ice hockey event with prominent sports personalities from around the world, to leverage on the convening power of sports diplomacy. In April 2019 we will shout to the whole world a clear message: we cannot continue business as usual any longer, and the Arctic is a stark visualisation of where the whole of humanity may be heading to if we all fail to take immediate and bold actions to limit climate change. Hopefully the blessing for the Last Game received from both Pope Francis andPatriarch Kirill can also give us the strength for halting climate change, before it is too late. The clock is ticking, and the ice is melting.

About the authors

Jan Dusik UN Environment 2018

Mr. Jan Dusik is UN Environment’s Principal Adviser on Strategic Engagement for the Arctic and Antarctic (UN Environment, 2018)

Mr. Jan Dusík was born in 1975, in the Czech Republic, Jan graduated from the Law School of Charles University in Prague (Master of Law 1998, Doctor of Law 2001). In 2002, he received a Master of Science in Environmental Change and Management from the University of Oxford.

Between 1998-2009, he worked in the Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic, where he was appointed Minister in 2009. Jan also served as the Vice-President of the Bureau of the UN Environment Governing Council in 2007-2009. He joined UN Environment in 2011, where he has headed the Europe Office until present. Since January 2018, he serves as UN Environment’s Principal Adviser on Strategic Engagement for the Arctic and Antarctic.


Slava Fetisov

Mr. Slava Fetisov, UN Environment Patron for Polar Regions, Patron for the Polar Regions offering a Last Game hockey jersey to Pope Francis | Photo credits: Jon Alpert                     (UN Environment, 2018)

Mr. Vyacheslav Fetisov was born in Moscow in 1958, this legendary Soviet ice hockey player has been World Champion seven times and nine times European Champion. He has won two Olympic gold medals and one silver medal. He won the USSR’s Championship thirteen consecutive years. In North America, he won the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup twice as a player and once as a coach.

Fetisov has held different public positions. In 2017 he was appointed as the State Duma’s Special Envoy for Interparliamentary and International Public Organizations on the Development of Sport. His environmental commitment led to his appointment as UN Environment’s Patron for Polar Regions. He is now spearheading “The Last Game at the North Pole”.

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