by H.E. Mr. Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson,
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me start by welcoming you all to this breakout session on climate change in Arctic Iceland. It gives me great pleasure to be here with you today, to take part in the important conversation about climate change and to get the opportunity to listen to our exceptional scientists and speakers in the panel.
On that note, I must point out that for such a small country like Iceland, with a population of 350.000, we can be proud of our many cutting-edge scientists that have contributed greatly towards scientific research in the Arctic region.
The Arctic region has, in the past few years, become one of the big focus points for the international community, with scientists and researchers to businesses and industries all looking north as environmental changes and development will affect not only the Arctic population but a much bigger community worldwide.
We, the inhabitants of the Arctic, are already witnessing the consequences of climate change. In Iceland, the rising ocean temperatures have already led to changes in the migration patterns of fish stocks around the country. Rising temperatures, along with the acidification of the ocean and increasing pollution, are genuine threats that need to be taken seriously.
Therefore, for us in the Arctic, perseverance and resilience need to be at the forefront as sustainability continues to be an important trait for our existence as we learn to adapt to a changing climate.
The Arctic is a key foreign policy priority in Iceland, based on a parliamentary resolution from 2011, and there is a broad consensus on Arctic issues across the political spectrum in Iceland. The Government of Iceland has also made the fight against climate change a priority with the ambitious aim of making Iceland carbon neutral before 2040.
We, Icelanders, are already fortunate enough to enjoy an almost carbon free electricity and heating using geothermal and hydro energy, but we can always do better.
Last month we announced our new Climate Strategy, which boosts our efforts in cutting net emissions and in-land use change and forestry. The new strategy is aimed to help Iceland meet the Paris-Agreement targets for 2030.
Amongst the thirty-four government measures in the new Strategy are banning the sale of new fossil fuel cars by 2030 as well as plans to transform the transportation system in Iceland from using imported fossil fuels to a carbon free system based on renewable energy sources. Increased funding for climate mitigation measures has already been secured by the Icelandic government.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I look forward to hearing what our great panellists have to say and to a good discussion on the ever-important issue of climate change.