The Week Ahead: Onward and upward

Two years ago, climate scientists were asked to look at what would happen if we miss the goals set by the Paris climate agreement. It may no longer be a theoretical question.

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Coastal erosion reveals the extent of ice-rich permafrost underlying active layer on the Arctic Coastal Plain in the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area of the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, in this July 2011 photo. (Brandt Meixell / USGS)

In January, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN outfit responsible for assessing the science of climate change, issued a statement warning that the world should pay no attention to a leaked version of a report it is in the process of compiling. Their worry: The text, a draft of an assessment of the impacts of a temperature increase of 1.5° C (2.7° F) on pre-industrial levels, might not be pessimistic enough.

This, despite news reports that described the findings as “dire” and “dismal” and referencing sections that appeared to conclude that it was too late to make the target of limiting warming to 1.5° Celsius.

The final version is due to be handed over during this year’s UN climate conference, in December and, the IPCC warns, could have significant changes.

For example, it noted that 500 scientists made 13,000 comments to a previous draft. That might result in a milder assessment. Extending the deadline for what scientific literature can be used, from November 1, 2017 to May 15, will not. Given the pace of climate research right now, that will give a more accurate picture.

This week, the IPCC gathers in Paris, where it will hear an update on the report. The good news is that work has moved forward. The bad news is that the temperature has only moved upward.

When and where
March 13-16; Paris

For more information
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Global Warming of 1.5° C
Progress Report of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5° C

Further reading
Climate change will contribute to a wide range of health problems linked to Alaska, researchers say 

 

IMO Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment
The International Maritime Organization, the UN maritime agency, continues its work with the Polar Code this week, when its Ship Systems and Equipment sub-committee meets in London. On its agenda: developing new test and performance criteria for life-saving equipment and procedures for use in polar waters.

The SSE is the third sub-committee to take up the Polar Code this year, which reflects the IMO’s increasing push to establish regulations for safe sailing in the Arctic and Antarctic.

The Arctic Council is also doing its part to draw attention to the Polar Code, in force since last January. Last month, it hosted a conference together with the IMO looking at how its implementation is progressing, and what the next steps might be. In May, it will hold its second Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum, timed to coincide with another big IMO session.

Critics of the Polar Code attacked even before it was in place for failing to include smaller vessels, such as yachts, fishing vessels and small cargo ships, or to ban heavy fuel oil.

An expanded Polar Code that covers these has broad support, but those working on the current iteration say the discussions being held now will allow the sequel to make better headway.

When and where
March 12-16; London

For more information
Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment

Further reading
IMO says it will address Arctic heavy fuel oil regulation

 

Barents Winter Games
Starting on Friday, March 16, more then 1,000 young people from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia will gather in Luleå, Sweden, to compete in 15 winter sports events.

For many of the athletes, the Barents Games, an annual event that alternates between a summer and winter sports tournament, will be their first opportunity to represent their country in international competition.

The adults who put the games on for them see an opportunity of their own. They describe the event with words like “tolerance,” “cross-border cooperation,” and “cultural understanding”. Its theme is “Sharing the Arctic spirit.” A familiar program, but one worth repeating.

When and where
March 16-18; Luleå, Sweden

For more information
Barents Winter Games

Further reading
Swimming for rapprochement

 

Other events this week

ICEX 2018
ICEX is a five-week biennial exercise that allows the US navy to assess its operational readiness in the Arctic, increase experience in the region, advance understanding of the Arctic environment and continue to develop relationships with other services, allies and partner organizations. This year, the exercise began on Mar. 7 with the construction of temporary Ice Camp Skate and the arrival of two U.S. Navy submarines and one from the U.K. Royal Navy. During the exercise, the submarines will conduct multiple Arctic transits, a North Pole surfacing, scientific data collection and other training activities.

When and where
March 7-22; Camp Skate, Arctic Ocean

For more information
ICEX 2018

Further reading

 

Arctic Edge 2018
The goal of Arctic Edge, according to Lt. Gen. Ken Wilsbach, Alaskan Command commander, “is to train military forces to fight and win in the Arctic.” With more than 1,500 military personnel from all branches of service taking part, Arctic Edge is the largest joint exercise to be held in Alaska this year. It takes place as the U.S. military holds a series of other service-specific winter exercises in the region, including Arctic Eagle (National Guard), Arctic Pegasus (army) and ICEX (navy) (see above).

When and where
March 12-23; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska

For more information
Arctic Edge

Further reading
Northern Edge military exercise again brings unease to Alaska coastal towns

 

Barents Euro-Arctic Council BEATA Steering Committee meeting
The Barents Euro-Arctic Transport Area (BEATA) works to facilitate creation of an efficient transport system in the Barents. Areas of cooperation include border crossing points, customs, maintenance and reconstruction as well as new projects to improve the infrastructure.

When and where
March 12-13; Skellefteå, Sweden

For more information
Steering Committee for the Barents Euro-Arctic Transport Area (BEATA)

Further reading
More cross-border collaboration could benefit Europe’s far north

 

BEAC Working Group of Indigenous Peoples meeting
The goal of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council Working Group of Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region is to secure indigenous peoples’ rights and a foundation for trade, society, culture and language. The WGIP consists of representatives from the Sami, Nenets and Vepsian peoples.

When and where
March 13; Murmansk, Russia

For more information
Working Group of Indigenous Peoples

Further reading
For indigenous peoples, establishment of $30 million Álgu Fund marks new beginning in Arctic Council

 

BEAC Regional Working Group on Transport and Logistics
The Barents Euro-Arctic Council Regional Working Group on Transport and Logistics works with cross-border transport and logistics. The RWGTL aims to establish a working network and heavy freight network in the Barents area and create conditions for cross-border passenger transport. The RWGTL helps decision makers, planners, authorities and companies to see the region as a single transport area.

One of the main activities of the RWGTL has been the “Barents Freeway” project aimed at preparing a common Regional Transport Plan for the Barents Region.

When and where
March 14; Skellefteå, Sweden

For more information
Regional Working Group on Transport and Logistics

Further reading
Russia opens Arctic forum aimed at highlighting cooperation in the region 

 

Fishery in the Arctic: Modern Challenges, International Expertise and Prospects
The Fifth International Conference “Fishery in the Arctic: Modern Challenges, International Expertise and Prospects” and the 18th fishing industry exhibition “Sea. Resources. Technologies” are being held as Russia begins  distributing fishing quotas among national fisheries. Some 100 officials and business people from Russia, Norway, Iceland, the Netherlands and Belgium are expected to attend.

When and where
March 14; Murmansk

For more information
Fishery in the Arctic: Modern Challenges, International Expertise and Prospects

Event program

Further reading
Russian fisheries say they will safeguard Arctic stocks

 

Greenland Committee meeting (Camp Century)
The Danish national assembly’s Greenland Committee meets for a regular session. The foreign minister has been requested to answer questions about toxic and radioactive waste left behind by the US in the 1960s at Camp Century, in northern Greenland.

When and where
March 14; Copenhagen

For more information
The Greenland Committee

Further reading
Copenhagen to foot bill to clean up US pollution in Greenland

The Week Ahead is a preview of some of the events related to the region that will be in the news in the coming week. If you have a topic you think ought to be profiled in a coming week, please email [email protected].