Launching of the OECD report “The Economic Benefits of Air Quality Improvement in Arctic Council Countries”, co-organised with Iceland´s Chairmanship to the Arctic Council
Good afternoon Director Lacy, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure welcoming you all to the launch of the OECD report “The Economic Benefits of Air Quality Improvement in the Arctic Council Countries” which is co-organised by the OECD and the Icelandic Chairmanship to the Arctic Council. The work on the report was of course initiated at Finland´s request during their chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2017-2019.
It is obvious by now what profound effects climate change has on the Arctic region. The Arctic warms at two to three times the global rate and Arctic warming trends are expected to continue towards mid-century. This calls for strong global action to reduce emissions to mitigate these changes. That holds true for the Arctic too because what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic.
In our efforts to fight climate change we must put strong emphasis on the core mandate of the Arctic Council, and Iceland’s overarching priority during our chairmanship: sustainable development and strike a careful balance of its three pillars. Social, economic, and environmental sustainability.
The Arctic Council and its Working- and Expert Groups have a strong role to play in facilitating cooperation and informing policy on climate change. Here I would like to mention the Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane, which during Iceland’s chairmanship has been chaired by Kristín Linda Árnadóttir, the deputy CEO of Landsvirkjun, the national power company of Iceland. I believe she is here with us today along with the representatives of the former and incoming chairmanships of the Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane.
Despite generating just ten percent of global black carbon emission, Arctic States are responsible for around 30 percent of black carbon’s warming effects in the Arctic, due to greater warming impact of local emission sources. The Arctic States are uniquely positioned to slow down warming in the region caused by emission of black carbon. However, action by non-Arctic states is just as important as black carbon emissions can be transported long distances.
In 2015 the Ministers of the Arctic States adopted the “Enhanced Black Carbon and Methane Emissions Reductions: An Arctic Council Framework for Action”. There the Arctic States committed to taking enhanced national and collective action to accelerate the decline in their overall black carbon emissions and to significantly reduce their overall methane emissions. We are now well on our way to achieve those targets, however there is always room for improvement.
To help implement these commitments the Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane was established. The Expert Group was tasked with developing a biannual “Summary of Progress and Recommendations” based on national reports. Under Iceland’s lead the Expert Group will submit its third Summary report at the Ministerial meeting in Reykjavík next month.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I believe that the OECD report, launched here today, will be extremely beneficial for the Arctic Council’s work on black carbon while also complimenting the Councils Framework for Action on black carbon and methane. A collaborative policy action is needed to reduce air pollution in the Arctic. It could contribute to slowing down climate change in the Arctic while also achieving great health and economic benefits.
I would like to thank and congratulate the team at the OECD for a timely and immensely important report. It shines a light on the need to reduce air pollution in the Arctic and how setting air quality policies could result in better and healthier Arctic region for the four million inhabitants living in and working in the Arctic.