Climate Change Through an Arctic Lens

Iceland’s geographic position in the Arctic region and our outlook on climate change are intertwined and inseparable. Nowhere else on the planet are the effects of climate change as visible as in the Arctic region. Temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as the world average and the effects of climate change in the Arctic during a 10-year period are equal to those of 25 years in other regions of the Earth. These are real challenges. The effects have a global reach and global solutions are required. The solutions are known and it is now our responsibility to carry them onward to realization. COP21 in Paris brings us a unique opportunity, here and now, to bring about a bold blueprint for the future. For us in the Arctic, the stakes are high, since our environment and our very livelihood is at stake.

Iceland is the only country in the northern hemisphere that is fully within the Arctic region. Reykjavík is the northernmost capital in the world. Our economy relies to a large extent on the interplay between man and nature and continued sustainable use of natural resources. In fact, few countries have greater stakes than Iceland in the international community finding a balance between exploitation and conservation.

Two decades after the Kyoto Protocol, the global energy mix has still not changed. Fossil fuels make up 81% of the energy supply and renewable energy only accounts for 13.5%. This needs to change. Continued fossil fuel dependency cannot be our inheritance to future generations. A recent IMF report raises critical questions in this respect. According to the study, direct subsidies world-wide toward the oil and gas industry amount to a staggering 333 billion USD annually. If these subsidies would be phased out global carbon emissions could be —> Read More