Encouraging Global Leadership on Arctic Climate Change

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
September 1, 2015
NASA Scientists gather samples atop Arctic sea ice and melt ponds in the Chukchi Sea in Alaska [NASA/Kathryn Hansen]

Global leaders convened at GLACIER to highlight international and domestic priorities in the Arctic with a goal of generating momentum and expediting progress towards addressing some of the most pressing issues facing the region.

At the conference, Secretary Kerry delivered opening remarks thanking his counterparts and international and domestic leaders for bringing the attention of the world to the challenges facing the Arctic.  Secretary Kerry underscored that the conversations that took place at the GLACIER Conference in Alaska were important not just for the Arctic, but also for the rest of this planet.

‎Secretary Kerry noted that the story of Arctic communities is inherently one of resilience, adaptation, and survival from one generation to the next -- but global climate change now threatens life in the Arctic region in a way that it hasn’t been threatened thousands of years

President Obama also traveled to Alaska to shine a spotlight on what Alaskans in particular have come to know: climate change is one of the biggest threats we face, it is being driven by human activity, and it is the lives of people around the world right now.

President Obama underscored that climate change is already disrupting our agriculture and ecosystems, our water and food supplies, our energy, our infrastructure, human health, human safety.  “Climate change is a trend that affects all trends -- economic trends, security trends.  Everything will be impacted.  And it becomes more dramatic with each passing year.”

The President recognized the United States role in creating this problem, and noted that the U.S. embraces its responsibility to help solve it.  “The United States has made ambitious investments in clean energy, and ambitious reductions in our carbon emissions.  We now harness three times as much electricity from wind and 20 times as much from the sun. Alaskans now lead the world in the development of hybrid wind energy systems from remote grids, and it’s expanding its solar and biomass resources. "

Secretary Kerry noted that in the discussions held that the GLACIER Conference, the international community made progress in a host of areas including addressing the issues of climate change, the impacts of it, enhancing resilience, strengthening emergency response, improving air quality, and promoting renewable energy and household innovations that will increase efficiency and community health at the same time.

Both President Obama and Secretary Kerry looked ahead to December when Paris will host the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP-21, and the work that needs to be done by the International community to achieve a truly ambitious and global climate change agreement. Secretary Kerry urged, “We cannot afford to wait until someone else moves to implement solutions to the challenges that confront us in the Arctic.”

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