Action Plan on Climate Change adopted at the BEAC Meeting of the Environment Ministers

People in the Barents Region are experiencing a change that is confirmed by scientists: the climate in the Arctic regions is warming. The Arctic's average temperature has risen at almost twice the rate as elsewhere in the past few decades.

In the Arctic regions this is seen all around the year. According to the report of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP, see end of the text) the extent and duration of snow cover and sea ice have decreased across the Arctic. The Northern Sea Route is now open for maritime transport for a couple of months in summer since 2009. Permafrost temperatures are also 2 ⁰C higher than 20–30 years ago.

Climate change has adverse effects on the local communities and ecosystems, and it will cause uncertainties that make it more difficult to plan and predict the future development of the Arctic regions. The costs of melting in the far north are estimated to be much higher than the benefits from the “new” Arctic resources. A global scientific society — the International Panel on Climate Change — has stated strongly that in order to mitigate climate change, we should significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions and aim towards low-carbon societies.

Action Plan on Climate Change

These have been the starting points for the proposal to develop an Action Plan on Climate Change for the Barents cooperation. The need for this plan has been expressed within the BEAC by both the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and the Ministers of the Environment. In 2011 the BEAC Ministers called for the preparation of an Action Plan on Climate Change, and encouraged all sectors to engage in these efforts. The plan was endorsed by the Foreign Ministers of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia at their meeting of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council in Tromsø on 29 October 2013. The Barents Environment Ministers’ meeting adopted it in Inari, Finland, 5 December 2013.

The preparation of the action plan was a main priority for both the Norwegian chairmanship of the BEAC and the Finnish chairmanship of the BEAC Working Group on Environment. The Norwegian Ministry of the Environment led the work on behalf of the Norwegian BEAC chairmanship, in close cooperation with the WGE Chair. Harald Dovland from the consultancy company Carbon Limits assisted in the process and wrote the report.

A kick-off meeting was arranged in March 2012 with the aim to invite all the BEAC working groups to brainstorm the process and content of the action plan. It was decided that the plan would be aimed at producing a limited number of concrete and achievable proposals within the field of activities of the working groups. The Action Plan is based on the working groups’ proposals and it is structured under the headings of mitigation, adaptation, research/observation/monitoring/modelling, and outreach. A leading working group is identified for each activity. The Action Plan also includes one activity that covers many sectors: development of regional strategies on climate change and the mainstreaming of climate issues in regional planning in order to decrease the vulnerability of the communities to the impacts of climate change.

The Council encourages the regions and the working groups to follow up and implement the priorities and projects in this plan without delay. The working groups should provide the Committee of Senior Officials with progress reports on a regular basis.

Activities of the Action Plan:

• Development of regional strategies on climate change

Mitigation
• Development of inventories of short-lived climate pollutants and suggestions for reduction measures
• Reduction of emissions from hot spots
• Energy efficiency and renewable energy
• Forest activities

Adaptation
• Water resources management
• Joint Transport Plan to include assessment of impacts of climate change
• Impacts of climate change on the communities and environment of reindeer herders
• Barents Protected Area Network

Research, observation, monitoring and modelling
• PhD-level courses on climate change
• International courses on the ”Floating University”
• Ensure relevant long-term series
• Monitoring and research on black carbon
• Impacts of climate change on the permafrost

Outreach

• Barents Industrial Partnership Meeting
• International conference on permafrost
• Dissemination of information
• Cooperation with other organisations

Henna Haapala
Ministerial Adviser
Ministry of the Environment of Finland
Chair of the BEAC Working Group on Environment in 2012–2013

(AMAP)Arctic Climate Issues 2011: Changes in Arctic Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost






 

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Finnish Minister of the Environment Ville Niinistö hands over the symbol of the chairmanship of the BEAC Working Group on Environment to Denis Hramov.

family photo 2.jpg

The 11th meeting of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council’s Ministers of Environment was held in Inari, Finland, on 4-5 December 2013. The meeting was hosted by Finnish Minister of the Environment Ville Niinistö.The meeting focused on environmentally contaminated sites, or “hot spots”, in the Barents Region, as well as on nature protection and climate change.

Photos by Ulla Ahonen / Ministry of the Environment of Finland.


More information:

Press release: An Action Plan on Climate Change for the Barents Region


Action Plan on Climate Change for the Barents Cooperation (English)


Action Plan on Climate Change for the Barents Cooperation (Russian)





 


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