21st Nov 2017

Barroso sees 'dramatic' climate change in Greenland

  • "We need to do more. The situation is very dramatic," Mr Barroso said (Photo: wikipedia)

Climate change is the most important political issue in the European Union, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said after a visit to Greenland to see the effects of global warming first hand.

"We need to do more. The situation is very dramatic," Mr Barroso said according to Danish daily Politiken.

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"Greenland is without doubt one of the areas on the planet which are most affected by climate change," he added, while explaining that it was essential for him to see the effects of warming with his own eyes.

Greenland – a self-governed Danish territory - is the world's largest island of which 81 percent is covered by the Greenland ice sheet.

Mr Barroso was invited by Greenland premier Hans Enoksen and Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to survey the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier - a UN heritage site - in Ilulissat on the west coast of Greenland.

The glacier is melting at an alarming speed, according to scientists, leading to longer summers which means that hunters and fishermen from Ilulissat only have four to five months to go fishing and hunting on the ice compared to eight months just a few years ago.

"It is important for me to have a direct contact with the local societies where climate change affects their way of life and economic income. It is very different from reading the well-researched briefings I receive and now I can go back to Brussels and continue my fight for a more ambitious policy fighting climate change," the commission chief told the Ritzau news agency.

Mr Barroso said he hoped the main elements of a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, could be agreed upon at a UN climate summit in Bali, Indonesia, in December.

"It is evident we will not succeed without binding targets and global commitments," he said.

The European Commission will on Friday (29 June) come out with a Green Paper on "Adapting to Climate Change in Europe - Options for EU Action."

The draft document warns that unless there is advance planning, European countries will be left to respond "to increasingly frequent crises and disasters."

These "will prove much more costly and also threaten Europe's social and economic systems and its security," says the paper, according to the International Herald Tribune.

It concludes that "each European citizen will be affected one way or another and the widest possible involvement of all members of society is needed."

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