“Arctic meltdown: a point of no return”
According to a recently-published report from the United Nations, it is now too late to stop the Arctic meltdown. It is estimated than the Arctic has lost up to 40% of its area since 1979, and we can now expect it to be ice-free during the summer starting from 2030. According to the United Nations, even if all countries were to achieve the 2°C limit of the Paris agreement, this phenomenon cannot be reversed. Temperatures in the Arctic are expected to rise from 3°C to 5°C by 2050 and from 5°C to 9°C by 2080, compared to 1986.
If this is good news for our ships (for example; in September 2018, a French navy ship succeeded in sailing from Norway to Alaska through the Arctic without the need for an icebreaker and in 17 days, making the Arctic a potential new strategic naval road), the meltdown of the Arctic could carry extremely negative consequences. Since it plays a role of a carbon/pollutant sink, its melting would release quantities of pollutants back into our environment, such as methane or mercury, which could further aggravate climate warming or destroy more of our planet’s natural capital despite our efforts to contain the disastrous ecological situation already underway.
Does that mean we should stop trying to make things better? No, but it does mean we may now start to experience irreversible consequences of climate warming, and that we must better understand how it could affect our efforts.
Ronan Lecarpentier, ESG Analyst
Sources: UN Environment