"Most pessimistic estimates" on climate change overtaken in Arctic: Ban

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the Arctic Circle Assembly in Iceland. Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Scientists' "most pessimistic estimates" on climate change are being overtaken by "events on the ground" in the Artic, the UN Secretary-General warned on Saturday.

Ban Ki-moon was in the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik, addressing the Arctic Circle Assembly on the state of global warming.

He said that despite two major "breakthroughs" this week on the Paris Agreement ratification and international air travel emissions, the Artic was suffering more than most.

Matthew Wells reports.

Mr Ban praised the "historic" global feat of ratifying the Paris Agreement to keep temperature rises to less than 2 degrees, which will come into force now in less than a month.

But that, and a curb on aviation emissions, had come "not a moment too soon".

Everyone in the room he said, knew that the Arctic ice cap was "melting before our eyes" and in a single day last month, ice the size of England had disappeared, representing three times the usual rate.

It was time to turn words into deeds, before it's too late, implored the UN chief.

"When the Arctic suffers, the world feels the pain. And when the planet is under assault, the Artic is likewise a casualty. The Arctic is ground zero for climate change. Scientists tell us it is warming more quickly than the rest of the planet. Scientists' most pessimistic estimates are being overtaken by events on the ground."

Mr Ban said more resources were needed to help developing countries cut emissions, and governments needed to reach consensus next week in Rwanda, when ozone-depleting hydroflourocarbons could be phased out through an amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

This, he said, could prevent up to half a degree of warming, by the end of the century.

What happens in the Arctic affects us all, he added, but none more so than the many indigenous peoples of the Arctic Circle, who were being hit hardest, through little fault of their own.  

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'26"

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