Address by Mr. Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources at the Artic Circle Assembly 2018 - Climate Change and the Arctic: A Dialogue with Sir David King.
Many of us felt great hope when the Paris Agreement was achieved almost three years ago. Now we are confronted with bad news, that might dent that hope. The brand-new IPCC report has been described by many as a final call for drastic action. If we do not turn the tide on emissions soon, we will not reach our goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees, let along 1,5 degrees. And 1,5 degrees should be our preferred goal, as it may bring more problems for human societies and the ecosystem than previously thought. The report is a wake-up call.
Recently, the Icelandic government introduced a new climate action plan which is designed to step up our game in fighting against climate change here in Iceland. The strategy consists of 34 actions, ranging from a carbon tax to the phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons, from recovering wetlands to setting up a fund to support climate-friendly technologies and innovation, and putting a ban on registering new gasoline or diesel cars by 2030.
With the plan we have set clear priorities. On one hand we aim to speed up the transformation of transport, from using fossil fuels to using electricity and other low- or no-carbon energy. We currently use renewable energy for electricity and heating, but we are lagging behind in using clean energy for transport. Thus, we are starting our third renewable revolution in Iceland.
On the other hand, we want to increase carbon sequestration in land use, by restoration of woodlands and wetlands, revegetation and afforestation. By reducing emissions from land use, and securing carbon uptake by soil and plants, we simultaneously work on three crucial international environmental issues: Fighting the climate battle, land degradation and biodiversity loss.
Substantial resources are allocated to these measures, much more than any time before. Worth mentioning is that we see the action plan also as an instrument to help us to reach the ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040, which the Government announced when it was formed at the end of last year.
I admit that I am worried, but I have hope. But now many ask if this is enough. What can be our response to the newest warning from the IPCC? How do we keep the flame from Paris alive and how do we shape policies amidst fears that catastrophic climate change is almost inevitable?
In climate affairs we need good science, effective policies and global cooperation. I think few people know more about this than our guest here today. Sir David King is an awarded scientist and expert in physical chemistry, who has been a Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK government and a Special Representative on climate change. He has wealth of experience that touches upon all aspects of climate science and policy.