The Arctic Council has a long and rich history of scientific assessment work on pollution and climate change issues and was one of the first forums to recognize the importance of taking action...

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The Arctic Council has a long and rich history of scientific assessment work on pollution and climate change issues and was one of the first forums to recognize the importance of taking action to address short-lived climate pollutants given their impact on the Arctic.

The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) working group monitors and assesses the status of the Arctic region with respect to pollution and climate change and in doing so increases our collective understanding of trends and impacts.   A key deliverable to Ministers at Iqaluit 2015 is the Arctic Climate Issues 2015: Summary for Policy-Makers, which presents findings from scientific assessments on black carbon and tropospheric ozone and methane in the Arctic, and their impacts on the Arctic climate.  AMAP is also bringing forward the Arctic Pollution Issues 2015: Summary for Policy Makers, which presents conclusions and recommendations of three updated assessments on: human health in the Arctic; trends in persistent organic pollutants in the Arctic; and radioactivity in the Arctic. 

These assessments help the Council determine what actions to take to implement the findings and recommendations put forward.  One of the areas where the Council is taking action is in the area of short lived climate pollutants, which disproportionately impact the Arctic. 

During Canada’s chairmanship, the Task Force for Action on Black Carbon and Methane (TFBCM) has developed an Arctic Council Framework for Action: Enhanced Black Carbon and Methane Emissions Reductions (Framework for Action).  The Framework lays out a common vision with enhanced, ambitious, national and collective action and reporting commitments.  Reducing these emissions will lead to benefits not just for climate but also for human health.  Recognizing that black carbon and methane emitted beyond the Arctic can have a substantial impact in the Arctic, the Framework for Action calls on Arctic Council Observer states to take part.  

Also undertaking action-oriented projects, the Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) working group addresses Arctic pollution sources and acts as a strengthening and supporting mechanism to encourage national actions to reduce emissions and other releases of pollutants relevant to the Arctic. 

ACAP’s new report on the Reduction of Black Carbon Emissions from Residential Wood Combustion in the Arctic identifies voluntary actions that could be adopted to reduce black carbon emissions from wood stoves.  The recommended actions may benefit Arctic people through improved local air quality and climate change mitigation.   

Several activities under ACAP’s project on Reduction of Black Carbon from Diesel Sources in the Russian Arctic were also completed during Canada’s chairmanship, including an emissions inventory of black carbon from diesel sources in the Murmansk region of Russia and a pilot mitigation project that upgraded the buses of a Murmansk bus company resulting in a 90% decrease in black carbon emissions from the fleet.  

The Council’s assessment work and its action-oriented work complement other international efforts as well, such as the ongoing work under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).

The Arctic Council will continue to build on a solid foundation of scientific assessments to address pollution and manage the impacts of climate change in the Arctic, promoting sustainable communities and a sustainable environment.

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All of the above-mentioned reports will be available to the public after the Iqaluit 2015 Ministerial meeting being held on April 24-25, 2015.

The mandate of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) is to monitor and assess the status of the Arctic region with respect to pollution and climate change by documenting the levels and trends, pathways and processes, and effects on ecosystems and humans, and to propose actions to reduce associated threats for consideration by governments. AMAP produces sound science-based, policy-relevant assessments and public outreach products to inform policy and decision-making processes. You can follow AMAP on Twitter - twitter.com/AMAP_Arctic.

The objective of the Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) is to prevent adverse effects, reduce and ultimately eliminate pollution of the Arctic Environment. The mandate of the Working Group is defined through decisions of the Arctic Council Ministers. The main objectives and priorities for ACAP are documented in the “Arctic Council Action Plan to Eliminate Pollution of the Arctic" (2001) as supplemented by Work Plans approved by Ministers every two years.

The Task Force for Action on Black Carbon and Methane (TFBCM) was established at the Kiruna Ministerial Meeting in 2013 and mandated to “develop arrangements on actions to achieve enhanced black carbon and methane emission reductions in the Arctic, and report at the next Ministerial meeting in 2015.”

 

Photo: Daniele Zanni / Creative Commons BY-NC-SA