World Environment Day in Tromsoe

On the occasion of the World Environment Day 2007 held in Tromsoe, the Norwegian Polar Institute hosted a packed 3 day event which kicked off on Sunday night the 3rd of June with a Gala performance of "Melting Ice - a Hot Topic?" which took a light-hearted musical look at the effect of global warming on the ice around the World, from glaciers to ice caps.

The evening was punctuated by short statements by personalities from around the World, and HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway graced the evening with his presence on stage in support of the event.

The conference proper began at the University of Tromsoe on the 4th of June, with a glittering array of international personalities speaking on the question of climate change. Also exhibiting at the event were representatives of civil society, scientific rsearch establishments, and agencies such as the European Space Agency and Polarview.

Norway has shown itself to be in the vanguard of the environmental movement and is taking significant initiatives to reduce its carbon emissions. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg outlined Norwegian plans to be the first country in the World to become carbon neutral. These include carbon capture and storage, Market Based Instruments and taxation. Norway was the first country in the World to have a carbon tax on the petroleum industry, introduced 16 years ago by then Environment Minister Mrs Brundtland.

Gro Haarlem Brundtlandt former Prime Minister of Norway, coordinator of the report "Our Common Future", published in 1987, and the forerunner of the climate initiatives that followed and led to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and now newly appointed Special Envoy on Climate Change by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, spoke eloquently about equity between generations and countries in tackling climate change. She said that progress was hampered by deep rooted distrust between countries, and that burdens and benefits should be equitably distributed, and technology shared with developing countries.

Also on the panel of speakers was Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa who pointed out the interdependence of humanity in the questions of climate which respected no borders.

Executive Director of the UNEP, Achim Steiner pointed out that the outlook was not good unless there was greater cooperation. He said that consensus could be built up if we focus on what we agree on rather than on what separates us as countries. During the conference UNEP launched ,in conjunction with GRID-Arendal, a new report of Ice and Snow around the World.

Mahsoumé Ebtekar of the Centre for peace and the Environment in Teheran, and Minister in the previous government of Mr Khatami, also spoke with great feeling about the need for humanity to rekindle in ourselves the qualities of animus and anima, the male and female aspects of our interactions with each other and with the environment in order to address the great questions of our times with mutual respect.

The President of the IPCC Mr R. Pachauri spoke with great humility about the massive contribution made to the debate by the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC which is in the process of being completed. The Synthesis Report is expected out soon.

Sheila Watt Cloutier of the Inuit Circupolar Conference addressed the assembly on the plight of the peoples of the North who were in the front line of the changes brought about about by a warming climate.

The following speakers included Ministers of the Environment, Finance and Development of Norway, who each spoke on the various aspects of the plan to make Norway carbon neutral and also on equitable distribution of the burden on the changes that would have to be made to the economy and to the industrial sector.

The event running in parallel to the G8 Conference in Germany was regularly informed of statements and positions adopted at the Summit, which lent a further intensity to the proceedings, as if we were participating in a key moment of history.