On December 6 in Doha, as the COP 18 climate change negotiations switched gears for the finale, the Swedish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council arranged a side event on climate change in the Arctic. The event was held against the background of the rapid and ominous development lately in the Arctic, in particular the past summer's sea ice melt. The event was well attended and a strong panel including Martin Lidegaard, climate and energy minister of Denmark, Jens Fredriksen, Minister for housing, infrastructure and transport from Greenland, and Lena Ek, Swedish Minister for the Environment, contributed to a lively discussion.

The first speaker was Minister Lena Ek, who read aloud a joint statement which the Arctic nations prepared for the COP 18 climate conference. Lars Otto Reiersen, the Executive Secretary for AMAP, then gave an account of the situation in the Arctic. The following discussions, that involved both the panel and the audience, highlighted a number of serious issues.  

Many questions were raised during the discussion. One issue was how the indigenous people, plants and animals living in the Arctic can adapt to climate change. What implications does climate change have for conservation strategies in the north? Another question raised was how the nature can be protected when the Arctic becomes more accessible for exploitation due to a warmer climate. 

Further discussions included the responsibility of the Arctic nations in the global efforts to mitigate climate change. In 2004 the Arctic Council responded to the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) with a statement which concluded that the Arctic states should consider the findings of the ACIA and other relevant studies when implementing their commitments under the UNFCCC and other agreements.

Photo: From the Swedish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council arranged side event on climate change in the Arctic.