Puhe Barentsin parlamentaarikkokokouksessa 7.6.2017 Narjan-Marissa Venäjällä, aiheena ilmastonmuutos

Puheet • 07.06.2017

Dear participants, ladies and gentlemen,

The Barents Region is one of the few remaining areas with a relatively pristine natural environment. It is a real treasure trove of biological diversity that covers 1.8 million square kilometers. The last natural areas and landscapes in the Barents Region are unique on a global scale. This spectacular region bears a wide variety of valuable natural resources and exquisite indigenous cultures.

However, the northern nature is vulnerable and sensitive to change. So far it has enabled a high quality of life, but it also entails a great responsibility. Continued human habitation and economic development in the Barents Region can only be possible, if its fragile ecosystems are managed in a sustainable way.

During the last twenty years, the Barents Euro-Arctic Region has been among the most dynamic developing regions in the world. Rich natural, mineral, oil and gas resources and the potential of the Northern sea route make this region attractive to companies realizing economically profitable investments. Increasing business activities contain a potential hazard to the environment and public health. This is why it is crucial to assess the impacts and inevitable consequences of the planned projects for the environment and human beings.

The Arctic region is undergoing a number of conflicting developments: climate change is melting the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean giving access for new transport routes for exploitation of oil and gas reserves. Investors all over the world are waiting keenly and greedily to be able to benefit from the oil, gas and mineral reserves. The increased economic activity increases also the pressures and risks for the Arctic environment.

Dear friends,

We have to acknowledge, that the reason why we are able to access these new resource supplies, is climate change. It is a severe threat to the whole Arctic area, where we have already seen the most dramatic changes caused by global warming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the average Arctic temperature has so far been rising at least twice as fast as the global temperature.

We can already see many signs of the occurring climate change: The ice cover of the Arctic Ocean is constantly becoming smaller, in 2016 the extent of sea ice in the Arctic was record low. The rise of the sea level has been much faster than anticipated and mountain glaciers have shrunk globally. For the Barents region, the climate models show increased precipitation and more floods. Temperatures are rising, especially during the winter, and very cold temperatures became scarcer. Big changes in temperatures will be more common.

Unfortunately the world has been irresponsibly slow in responding to this challenge. The Paris agreement is a good start in the fight against climate change. If we want to continue life as we know it, should the rise in temperatures stop at 2 degrees above pre-industrialized era. For the future of the Arctic region tackling climate change and mitigating its impacts are vital. This calls for immediate action!

Dear friends,

If we want to be able to preserve biodiversity it is paramount that we obtain more knowledge about how climate change may affect the ecosystems in the Barents Region. We need to develop a well-connected network of protected areas as a safeguard in face of climate change and the increasing use of natural resources. Ecosystem management and conservation strategies should be developed in order to promote nature preservation and to clarify the framework for economic activity and to allow coexistence of humans and other species.

Climate change does not only have effects on the nature, but on the societies as whole. Studies predict that climate change may create millions of environmental refugees due to sea level rise, desertification and extreme weather events. The extreme weather can have serious effects on livelihoods and on the infrastructure, causing disturbances in the electricity and water supply as well as in traffic and communications. The Arctic is especially vulnerable for climate change because many of the traditional livelihoods are connected with the nature.

This is why there is also a need to take into account the indigenous peoples and their knowledge. Indigenous peoples have a long history of adapting to the natural environment around them, including relying on a diversity of species to fulfil their needs and allowing scarce resources to regenerate and recover. Indigenous traditional knowledge can build resilience to the rapid changes in the Arctic. At the same time, the projected changes in climate will influence for instance reindeer and reindeer herding due to changing snow conditions that may affect the availability of forage especially in winter.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is essential to identify, estimate and quantify the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions as well as their natural sinks. We need to reduce the GHG emissions and increase the ecosystems absorption capacity. Ultimately we need to think effective and sustainable measures for climate change prevention, mitigation and adaptation.

I hope that we all share the ambition to secure a good quality of sustainable life in the future for all our Northern peoples. Only together we will be able to meet the challenges climate change poses and find solutions where preserving biodiversity and sustainable use of resources are bound together in a perfect harmony.

Ota yhteyttä

Puh. 050 512 1948
Sähköposti johanna.karimaki3@gmail.com