Global cooperation stressed as international climate experts gather in Montreal, Canada

Cheif Christine Zachary-Deom from the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke gives the opening blessing to the IPCC meeting in Montreal on Wednesday. (Eilis Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
MONTREAL – International collaboration is key to tackling global temperature change and crafting successful adaptation strategies, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change said to international climate experts gathered in Montreal this week.

“Here in Canada, we know climate change is real,”Minister Catherine McKenna said in a video address to the opening session of the 46th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Wednesday.

“The environmental challenges we face require global cooperation, action and solutions. Together, we will continue to demonstrate leadership while strengthening the global dialogue on this important issue.”

Canada on frontlines of climate change
Ulukhaktok, an Arctic community in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Climate change is already impacting everything from food supply, to culture, to infrastructure in many of the country’s northern communities. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

David Grimes, president of the World Meteorological Oganization, said that with extreme weather events now accounting for more than  four out of every five disasters worldwide, countries and international scientists must increase links instead of diminishing them.

“International cooperation  is more important than ever,” Grimes said at the opening session.

“The warming which is occurring in our atmosphere, oceans and climate, particularly the polar regions, is having significant impacts leading to increased severe weather and extreme events such as droughts and forest fires like those that have been devastating Canada’s western provinces this summer.”

Burnt trees in front of a smoke-filled sky near Old Fort, British Columbia on July 11, 2017. Serious forest fires have hit Canadian provinces ranging from British Columbia to Manitoba this year. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)
Changing political landscape

The focus on international cooperation at the Montreal meeting comes against a tumultuous few months for the international community when it comes to climate issues.

The much heralded Paris Climate Agreement  in 2015 saw the international community pledge to keep global temperature rise this century below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

It was seen as a major step forward for the international community, creating global momentum for tackling global temperature change.

However, since then, the U.S. has gone from being a key player on international climate issues to withdrawing significantly under President Donald Trump.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration took IPCC funding out of its budget. And in June, it announced the  withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement.

An iceberg chunk floating near Nuuk, Greenland. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
An iceberg chunk floating near Nuuk, Greenland. Climate change is having a drastic impact on the world’s polar regions, David Grimes, president of the World Meteorological Organization said on Wednesday. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
Assessment report to be discussed

The IPCC is a United Nations body made up of international experts from 195 states.

Though the IPCC does not conduct its own research, it examines climate change-related science being done worldwide and provides policymakers with climate change assessments, adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Much of its work from its fifth assessment report was used to inform the Paris Climate Agreement.

The Montreal meeting this week will be devoted to discussions about the IPCC’s next assessment report, an update on knowledge around climate change due out in 2022.

“The sixth assessment report will certainly inform Canada’s own climate change plan, the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change,” Minister McKeanna said on Wednesday.

The IPCC session runs until September 10.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s science minister in North to observe climate change, Radio Canada International

Finland: U.S. pullout from Paris climate pact condemned by Finnish leader, Yle News

Greenland: Greenland earthquake and tsunami – hazards of melting ice?, blog by Irene Quaile, Deutsche Welle

Norway: As Arctic weather dramatically changes, world meteorologists take on more joint forecasting, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: UNESCO mission visits protected island in Arctic Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden could be a model of sustainability, says environment professor, Radio Sweden

United States:  Alaska youth environmental group asks state to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, Alaska Dispatch News

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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