Speech/statement | Date: 22/01/2019 | Ministry of Climate and Environment
By Minister of Climate and Environment Ola Elvestuen (Arctic Frontiers)
Statement at Arctic Frontiers, Tromsø 21st of January 2019. Topic: Smart and resilient Arctic societies.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The 1.5 degrees report from the IPCC has changed the climate discussion. There will be disturbing effects of global warming anyway. But the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees is big.
With 1.5 degrees, we risk an ice-free Arctic in the summer every 100 year. With 2 degrees, every 10th year. With 1.5 degrees, two million square km less permafrost will melt. The risk of reaching critical tipping points in the global climate system will also be much lower.
With our present commitments under the Paris agreement, the world is heading towards a warming of 3 degrees. In the Arctic, this would mean 6 degrees or more. In Longyearbyen, at Svalbard, the rise in annual mean temperature since 1971 is already a stunning 4.8 degrees.
Unabated climate change would increase the risk to societies and life support systems in many parts of the world, and change the Arctic beyond recognition.
The only way to reduce these risks effectively is to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases. According to the IPCC, global emissions must be reduced by 40-50% the next 12 years to reach the1.5 degrees target. According to the IPCC, this will require a rapid and far-reaching transitions in land-use, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities.
All states have to increase their ambitions under the Paris agreement by 2020. More than 40 countries have already promised to do so, including Norway.
In Norway, a Climate Risk Commission has assessed climate-related risk factors for the Norwegian economy. According to the Commission, an ambitious and effective climate policy is the most important step in response to such risk.
In the Arctic, the solutions are very much the same as everywhere else.
We need to invest in low carbon infrastructure and solutions for energy, transport and buildings.
We must use the energy smarter and more efficiently.
We need climate smart cities and communities.
And not least, we need strong policies to speed up the transition to a low emission society.
Norway is a global frontrunner when it comes to electric cars. In 2018, nearly one in three new passenger cars were zero emission vehicles. All new passenger cars shall be zero emission vehicles by 2025.
A less known story, perhaps, is the electric revolution in the Norwegian car ferry sector. We expect that about a third of Norway's car ferries are electric by 2021.
This is the result of political will. Political will to use tax policies and public procurement for a cleaner future.
We should see the necessary transition as an opportunity. In the report "Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth", the OECD describes how countries can achieve strong and inclusive economic growth with low emissions. It would be interesting to explore how this applies to green growth in the Arctic, and for cooperation on Arctic connectivity and sustainable investments.
Solving the climate crisis will require action from everybody, everywhere – starting now. A climate smart and resilient Arctic means being part of the necessary changes.
Hopefully, our discussion here at Arctic Frontiers will contribute to this end.