Musings, politics and environmental issues

Archive for September, 2016

Iceland to ratify the Paris Agreement next week

Earlier this evening, the Icelandic Althingi agreed unanimously to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement which had been signed by the Environment Minister, Sigrun Magnusdottir, in April, at the same time as 169 other countries signed the Agreement. This time it will be the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Lilja Alfredsdottir, who will ratify the Agreement in New York next week.

But as far as I’m aware, Iceland has not worked out a plan on how to cut its greenhouse emissions. In April, Magnusdottir said “Iceland will work to implement the objectives of the agreement. This will include action in the fields of transport, fisheries and agriculture, as well as carbon capture through reforestation and soil reclamation.” Also, Iceland and Norway will work together with the EU countries to achieve a 40% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030, in reference to 1990. But Iceland has not yet elucidated exactly what measures it will take, and how, in order to fulfil the Agreement, which I am sure had been the intention last year prior to COP21. The latest press release from the environment ministry just says that Iceland’s final obligations will only be decided next year after consultation with the EU and Norway. Last year Iceland said the obligations would be finalized this year….

Not much initiative or ambition there, to my mind.

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Global campaign on nuclear disarmament targets Bergen

My first article to be published by In-Depth News, the flagship of the International Press Syndicate, featured an event in Bergen in Norway earlier this week that I was asked to cover. The event was the opening of an exhibition about nuclear disarmament that Soka Gakkai International are setting up in a number of countries worldwide. Each time they set up the exhibition, they get local peace organizations involved, and the event in Bergen was no exception.

But perhaps the most unexpected aspect of the event arose from a long discussion between Kimiaki Kawai from SGI and Fredrik Heldal, director of the Norwegian Peace Association, at the beginning of the evening. They discussed the need for de-politicization as a way to spread awareness of the disarmament issue.

Heidal later expanded on this in the panel discussion. “Instead of concentrating on the political side – the pros and cons of bans, lobbying and such like – we need to make it more into an ethical issue. A discussion on ethics and morals … will resonate more and it will be easier to sell the issue,” he said.

Their stance reflects the exhibition itself, which looks at the nuclear weapons issue from 12 perspectives, Kawai says the topic is relevant to everybody: “In our day-to-day life, we don’t see nuclear weapons and it is easy for people to lose interest in the question. So one of the things we emphasize is that if the money spent on nuclear weapons is spent on health and other crucial questions, life would be better.”

Unfortunately, my editor said he wanted to put the Bergen event in the context of global nuclear disarmament talks and in consequence the interesting issue of “de-politicization” as a campaign tool was omitted. Which is a pity.

The article was also published on the website of Toward a Nuclear Free World.