UN climate report confirms what’s been witnessed in Inuit Nanaat for decades, says int’l Inuit org

A waterfall in Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec. The Inuit Circumpolar Council says the dismal forecasts of the UN climate report released this week will have far-reaching impacts on Inuit regions across the North. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

The Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) says the United Nations climate report released this week confirms what Inuit have been witnessing in their homeland, known as Inuit Nunaat, for over three decades.

“Inuit have moved beyond “if” climate change is real to action to protect Inuit Nunaat – our Inuit homeland –  including the Arctic land, sea ice and the Inuit way of life,” ICC Chair Dalee Sambo Dorough said in a news release on Tuesday. 

“Inuit have been calling for immediate action to contain temperature rise to 1.5 C, as even this increase will see the reduction in Arctic sea ice, snow cover and permafrost loss continue.”

Inuit food security under threat

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, released on August 9, sounded the alarm saying the international community was close to reaching the warming threshold of 1.5 C.

It  warned that if action wasn’t taken to restrict greenhouse gas emissions immediately, and on a large scale, that limiting warming to even 2 C could be beyond reach with drastic implications for humanity, especially for the North. 

“Warming over land is larger than the global average, and it is more than twice as high in the Arctic,” the IPCC said in a news release.

Sambo Dorough said the implications for Inuit will be far reaching. 

“Both the Policy Summary and the Technical Summary note with high confidence that the rate change continues, with sea ice becoming younger, thinner and more dynamic (very high confidence),” Sambo Dorough said.

“Such change has severe consequences for our food security and multiple other aspects of our day to day lives.” 

“Inuit have moved beyond “if” climate change is real to action to protect Inuit Nunaat – our Inuit homeland –  including the Arctic land, sea ice and the Inuit way of life,” said Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) International Chair Dalee Sambo Dorough, pictured here at the 2018 ICC general assembly in Arctic Alaska. (Robert Mesher/Courtesy Dalee Sambo Derough)

Lisa Koperqualuk, ICC Canada Vice-President (International), echoed calls by scientists for policy makers to take urgent action, and urged greater incorporation of Inuit knowledge into national and international climate responses.  

“Inuit recognized early that safeguarding the Arctic would protect the planet – however, these calls remain unheard,” Koperqualuk said. 

“As an observer to the IPCC, ICC advocated for the co-production of knowledge to guide the AR6, which would include Indigenous Knowledge as an important knowledge source.” 

(AR6 is the sixth IPCC assessment report that will be out in 2022. It consists of three working group reports and one synthesis report.)

The Inuit Circumpolar Council represents the approximately 180,000 Inuit in Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka, Russia

Write to Eilís at eilis.quinn@cbc.ca 

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Arctic climate change among priorities of Canada’s new Governor General, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland’s July temperatures in Lapland one to three degrees above average, Yle News

Greenland: UN sounds clarion call over ‘irreversible’ climate impacts by humans, Thomson Reuters

Norway: Polar bears face extinction in Svalbard and Arctic Russia says scientist, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Extreme fire activity continues in Yakutia, Russia, Eye on the Arctic

SwedenSweden’s environment and climate minister responds to UN climate report, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska’s Northwest Arctic Borough gets $2 million tribal energy grant, Alaska Public Media

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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