EU must take lead to stop Arctic meltdown
European countries must lead the world with their complete commitment to cutting down carbon emissions and stop the Arctic from melting, which would cause global climatic chaos.
"The European countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol must become world leaders and commit to deeper cuts in carbon dioxide emissions," the WWF stated. "This challenge is more urgent than ever following the re-election of the Bush Administration."
Although the Arctic Council noted with concern the effects outlined in the ACIA report, it did not support the implementation of stronger mandatory measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which is fundamental to avoiding impacts described by the report.
It is, therefore, essential for the EU to lead the Arctic States by making an even stronger commitment to tackling climate change, according to director of the WWF international climate change programme, Jennifer Morgan.
"The nations in the Arctic Council missed an opportunity to show real leadership in response to ACIA and support bigger cuts in CO2 emissions. The EU must not make the same mistake," she warned.
British Liberal Democrat MEP Diana Wallis, agreed with Ms Morgan, reinforcing Sir David King's recent claims that the war on climate change was just as important as the war on terror.
"The difference is that we can get a real international effort to tackle this problem," Ms Wallis said. "We quite simply cannot fail."
The Tenth Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC-COP10), which is currently running in Buenos Aires, offers a clear opportunity for the EU's Environment Council to show that it understands that emissions must be cut beyond the Kyoto targets, and that it is ready to take on the challenge, Ms Morgan said.
"We challenge Ministers to differentiate themselves further from the Bush Administration and establish their moral leadership in the world on climate change," she added.
The ACIA report shows that climate change is definitely happening in the Arctic and will get worse unless carbon dioxide emissions are cut. It also warns that a warmer Arctic would contribute considerably to global warming, threatening the survival of millions of animals and people as sea levels began to rise (see related story).
Nearly three billion people, which amounts to half of the world's population, currently live in coastal zones.
The Arctic Council represents Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States.
By Jane Kettle