COP21 Side Event: Climate Change in the Arctic

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Arctic Change – What this means for you

This 90-minute European Commission Briefing Session, hosted by ICE-ARC, EU-PolarNet, and the European Polar Board, focusses on the increased prominence of Arctic issues for European politics, economics and society.

The Arctic has been described as a barometer for the health of the global environment; it is a region in a state of flux. Long-term temperature records have revealed that the Arctic has warmed more than other regions. This ‘Arctic amplification’ of global warming has led to major and quantifiable changes across the region from changing atmospheric circulation patterns and the melting of glaciers and ice sheets, through to the thawing of permafrost and the changing of the physical environment in, on, and above the Arctic Ocean.

Increased global focus on the Arctic brings significant regional opportunities and possibilities, such as new shipping routes, fisheries, and hydrocarbon extraction. But with this comes the potential for conflict and risks to human activities across the region and the globe, including potential impacts to economic sectors far from the Arctic region due to inbuilt feedbacks within the global climate system.

Keynote speakers

  • Peter Horvath, Directorate General for Research and Innovation, European Commission. Climate Change in the Arctic: Local, Regional, and Global Impacts
  • Sir David King, FCO Special Representative for Climate Change.  The Physical Basis of Arctic Change
  • Jean-Claude Gascard, Senior Scientist, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). Scenarios for Arctic change and Global Consequences
  • Anthony Hobley, Carbon Tracker Initiative. Economic Impact of Arctic change; regional and global contexts
  • Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Former Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference and winner of the Right Livelihood Award 2015. Societal Consequences of Arctic change; regional and global contexts
  • Thorben Hoffmeister, Executive Officer Geopolitics, Bundeswehr Geoinformation Center (ZGeoBw). Geopolitical and Security Consequences of Arctic Change


Heather Martin and Dr Jeremy Wilkinson, British Antarctic Survey on behalf of:

European Commission (Directorate- General for Research and Innovation ), EU ICE-ARC Arctic Programme, EU Polarnet Arctic programmes, European Polar Board

 ICE-ARC logo_transparent  

ICE-ARC (Ice, Climate, Economics – Arctic Research on Change) is a £11.5M, four-year programme of research (2014-2017), which investigates the environmental, economic and social impacts of a changing Arctic. Physicists, chemists, biologist, economists and sociologists from 23 institutes and 11 countries across Europe, Greenland and Russia have to study and better understand the multifaceted impact of Arctic change.

 EU-PolarNet_logo_globe_iconEU-PolarNet logo_main_transparent  

EU-PolarNet is the world’s largest consortium of expertise and infrastructure for polar research. Seventeen countries are represented by 22 of Europe’s internationally-respected multi-disciplinary research institutions. From 2015-2020, EU-PolarNet will develop and deliver a strategic framework and mechanisms to prioritise science, optimise the use of polar infrastructure, and broker new partnerships that will lead to the co-design of polar research projects that deliver tangible benefits for society.


 Print The European Polar Board is an independent European Organisation of Directors and Managers of the major European National Polar Programmes. It was established in 1995 by the European Science Foundation as a strategic advisory body on Polar Science. It is concerned with major strategic priorities in the Arctic and Antarctic and has members from national operators and research institutes in 17 countries.


See also NERC activities for COP21