Speech at the European Youth Parliament

Today I spoke at the inaguration of the national session of the European Youth Parliament, Sweden. For those who are interested, please read below:

European Youth Parliament
Viktor Rydbergs gymnasium, Djursholm
Jens Holm (V)

Climate change and the need for a new generation of politicians
It may seem strange to talk about global warming on a day as cold and full of snow as it is today. But today is rather the exception that proves the rule when it comes to global warming.

For just a moment, I would like for us to imagine that we are at an even colder latitude – namely 3000 kilometers to the north west. Imagine an area four times as large as France, permanently cold, with a 3000-meter-thick layer of compact ice…. Welcome to Greenland and the inland ice!

Why am I talking about Greenland? After all, we’re in Sweden. Global warming is happening twice as fast there as in the rest of the world. In Greenland we can see what your future will be like – what you will have to deal with when you’re as old as I am.

I went to Greenland, and the town Ilulissat on the west coast, on a climate expedition in late August 2007. The result was my slide show On Thin Ice, which you can have after today’s session, or watch on You Tube. Near the town of Ilulissat we find the Ilulissat glacier. It’s the world’s biggest glacier. Practically speaking, it’s the inland ice that spreads clear out into the North Atlantic.

The Ilulissat glacier is not only the world’s biggest, it is now also the fastest melting glacier in the world.In a single day, as much fresh water melts from it as the city of New York uses in an entire year. Between 1999 and 2005 the release of icebergs increased by 40 percent. The glacier is sinking by 15 meters per year because of global warming. I was able to see with my own eyes how giant icebergs hundreds of meters high broke into smaller pieces and headed out to sea.

The Ilulissat glacier is not an isolated incident. Between 1990 and 2000, the melting of Greenland’s inland ice doubled. More and more of Greenland’s glaciers are now moving at such speeds that many researchers now say the “ketchup effect” has already started: the glaciers function as big holes that the inland ice leaks out through faster and faster.

What the result of this can be is already known: If the entire Greenland ice melts away, sea levels will rise by seven meters. Recent research indicates that the melting of the Greenland ice may go much faster than earlier believed. It may happen already during your lifetime.

What is happening on Greenland is only one example of what we call global warming created by our continually increasing emissions. The United States’ space agency, NASA, reported last week that the past ten years has been the warmest decade in history.

The effects of this increase in temperature have been quick to be seen. Entire nations in the South Pacific are being flooded by the, so far, limited rise in sea levels. Imagine what a seven meter rise would lead to: big citys and whole nations would disappear.In poor countries people struggle, literally, for survival, while the effects on a rich country like Sweden are a lot less. According to Global Humanitarian Forum, the former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan’s institution, 300,000 people per year die earlier because of global warming, and 300 million are affected, almost exclusively in poor countries. This is not fair. It is we in the rich world who have caused the climate change. Nearly 80 percent of historical emissions come from the rich world, and only a small part from the poor. In Sweden, we release about six tons of carbon dioxide per person every year. The EU average is ten tons. In Bangladesh, on the other hand, it is only 0.2 tons. That’s how big the difference is between rich Europe and a poor country. In other words, in well-off Europe CO2 releases are 50 times as much as in a poor country like Bangladesh.

Climate change is not only about the environment, but also an issue of North versus South. The solution is global justice and large reductions in emissions.

The climate conference in Copenhagen last December was supposed to come up with solutions to these issues. But that didn’t happen. Without a binding agreement on reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses, the world has been left with a dangerous gamble on our future. I hold the rich world’s leaders responsible for this. They were the ones who couldn’t promise the needed reductions and a change in our lifestyle.

But it was exciting to see the very enthusiastic participation of ordinary people in Copenhagen. On the Saturday before the end of the summit meeting, I demonstrated along with 100,000 other enthusiastic citizens of the world. This was probably the largest demonstration against climate change ever. And you can easily see that a new global movement was born in Copenhagen: a movement for defense of the climate and global justice.

This is where you come in. A new generation of politically active citizens is needed. When I was a member of the European Parliament, I didn’t have many allies who were young and progressive. And the European Parliament is not an exception. All over the world, older men, especially, are over-represented in our elected institutions. Young people and, in particular, women are in the minority. This is something I hope the European Youth Parliament can help to change. Please, get young people involved in important issues like the climate and global justice.

It’s fun to fight for a better world. It gives life meaning; it leads, sooner or later, to concrete changes and, when you work together with others, it’s, as I said, quite simply fun. If the European Youth Parliament can help with this, you will fill an important and strategic function.With this words I´m happy to open the session for the European Youth Parliament.

Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution. Thank you.

Grönland – ljuset kommer från norr

Vänsterpartiet Inuit Ataqatigiit fick 43,7 procent vid de allmänna valen på Grönland den 2 juni. IA är vänsterpartiets systerparti på Grönland och kommer nu ta över styret över världens största ö. Nu finns det äntligen bättre förutsättningar än någonsin att komma tillrätta med klimatförändringarna, korruptionen och utöka självstyret på Grönland.

IA ökade från 22 till 44 procent i valet på Grönland.
Ljuset kommer från norr, helt enkelt. För några veckor sedan gick ju vänstern fram på Island. Sverige och EU-valet på söndag dags för nästa vänsterframgång, får man hoppas.

Läs mer om Grönland och mitt bildspel On thin ice om klimatförändringarna på Grönland, från mitt besök 2007.

Grönlandsisen smälter allt snabbare

Dansk media rapporterar idag om att avsmältningen går snabbare än någonsin på Grönland.

Nordjyske skriver bland annat:

Siden 1995 har den grønlandske is gennemsnitligt fået havene til at stige 0,7 mm hvert år. Det svarer til en fjerdedel af den stigende globale vandstand, der for tiden ligger på omkring tre mm årligt – og sandsynligvis mere, da tallet ikke medregner effekten af, at vand udvider sig, når det bliver varmere. Stigningen kan derfor vise sig at være op til det dobbelte.

– Bidraget fra Grønland på 0,7 mm pr. år er cirka tre gange større, end vi tidligere troede. Det kommer bag på os, at tallet er i den størrelsesorden. Årsagen er, at indlandsisen smelter hurtigere og hurtigere. Alene siden 1995 er indlandsisens smeltningsareal vokset med otte procent, siger Sebastian Mernild.

Havet höjs mer än väntat

Nu kommer nya forskningsrön som pekar på det som många varnat för: Höjningen av havsnivåerna kommer troligen bli mycket större än det som IPCC tidigare varnat för. Klimatpanelen har ju tidigare talat om höjningar på mellan 20-60 cm under detta århundrade. Denna siffra har man förvisso redan reviderat.

Smältande isberg från Jacobshavnsglaciären.


Nu menar forskare i senaste numret av Science, refererade i Svenska Dagbladet, att höjningen kan bli 80 cm under detta århundrade. Avsmältningarna av Grönlandsglaciärerna går fortare än man tidigare trott. Jacobshavnsglaciären – världens troligen största och nu snabbast smältande – har t ex fördubblat sin avsmältningshastighet bara under de senaste tio åren. Det är smått surrealistiskt – och skrämmande – att se hur fort det går. Se gärna mitt bildspel On Thin Ice.

Trots denna och flera andra rapporter som talar om en skredvis utveckling – alltså inte en linjär – verkar fortfarande flera ledande forskare ha svårt att ta till sig dessa rön. Rickard Warlenius diskuterar detta i senaste Arbetaren.

Glaciers melt at record rate

Yesterday ENS reported that world´s glaciers are melting at a record rate. ENS cites new findings from the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, announced today.

Data from close to 30 reference glaciers in nine mountain ranges indicate that between the years 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 the average rate of melting and thinning more than doubled.

Since 1980 there has been a total reduction in thickness of ice of just over 11.5 meters, or almost 38 feet.

The findings come from the UNEP-supported World Glacier Monitoring Service based at the University of Zurich. It has been tracking the condition of glaciers for over a century. Continuous data series of annual mass balance, expressed as thickness change, are available for 30 reference glaciers since 1980.

”The latest figures are part of what appears to be an accelerating trend with no apparent end in sight,” said World Glacier Monitoring Service Director Professor Wilfried Haeberli to ENS.

Avsmältning hotar isbjörnarna

Det senaste decenniets varmare klimat har gjort att vinterisen i Arktis lägger sig två månader senare än normalt. Detta innebär på sikt ett hot mot isbjörnens överlevnad i vissa områden, eftersom isbjörnen är beroende av att vandra på isen för att hitta sin huvudföda, vikaresäl. Det rapporterar Ekot idag.

– Packisen där ska var frusen redan i oktober, men det fanns ingen is däruppe. De som bodde där var alldeles förvånade. De hade aldrig upplevt något liknande. Det regnade i december, man har sett en massa nya djurarter, till exempel svanar, men inga isbjörnar, säger Tom Arnbom, biolog på Världsnaturfonden, som besökte Tjukotka i nordöstra Sibirien i november förra året.

Dessvärre ännu ett bevis på att avsmältningen går fortare än väntat…

The Ice Melt Accelerates

The Earth Policy Institute have some interesting documentation on ice melt in the Arctic, Greenland and elsewere. In the article ”Ice Melt Accelerates Around the World” they write:

The most dramatic loss of ice in recent years has been the decline of summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Between 1953 and 2006, the area covered by sea ice in September shrunk by 7.8 percent per decade, more than three times as fast as the average rate simulated by climate models. Researchers were further stunned in the summer of 2007 when Arctic sea ice extent plummeted to the lowest level ever measured, more than 20 percent below the 2005 record. This decline is rapidly changing the geopolitics of the Arctic region, opening the Northwest Passage for the first time in recorded history and triggering a scramble among governments to claim large swaths of the potentially resource-rich Arctic sea floor.

Their figure on the decline of the Arctic Sea is really breathtaking.




Greenland suffers from extreme ice melt

An international team of scientists, led by Dr Edward Hanna at the University of Sheffield, has demonstrated that recent warm summers have caused the most extreme Greenland ice melting in 50 years, ENN reports.

The article continues:

The findings, published in Journal of Climate, show how the Greenland Ice Sheet responded to more regional, rather than global, changes in climate between the 1960s and early 1990s. However the last fifteen years has seen an increase in ice melting and a striking correspondence of Greenland with global temperature variations, demonstrating Greenland’s recent response to global warming.

Summer 2003 was exceptionally warm around the margins of the Greenland Ice Sheet, which resulted in the second-highest meltwater running off from the Ice Sheet of the last 50 years. Summer 2005 experienced a record-high melt, which was very recently superseded in summer 2007 , a year almost as warm as 2003.

Read the whole article on the link above.