A new scientific report on Arctic warming has triggered calls from environmental activists for a sharp reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. VOA's Michael Drudge has more from London.
The new report by the eight-nation Arctic Council, which includes the United States, has found that the Arctic ice cap is melting at an alarming rate.
According to the 144-page study, which took four years to compile, the Arctic ice cap is only half as thick as it was 30 years ago. The report says if the current rate of melting continues, there may be no ice at all during the Arctic summer by 2070.
It says the melting could cause sea levels to rise by a meter over the next century, increasing coastal flooding and disrupting the Gulf Stream, which moderates the weather of northern Europe.
The Arctic Council's report concludes there could be unexpected economic impact to a shrinking ice cap, such as cutting shipping times between Europe and Asia, and improving access to Arctic oil and gas reserves. The London-based climate change program director at the World Wildlife Fund, Nicola Saltman, says the report underscores the urgency of the problem.
"It's an incredibly comprehensive report. It's had contributions of over 250 scientists as well as six indigenous peoples communities and its an inter-governmental report, so it does provide incontrovertible proof that climate change is happening and that we do need to address this now."
The WWF is calling on the Arctic countries to immediately cut their emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas blamed for contributing to climate change.
The Arctic Council is comprised of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. The coalition's secretariat is headquartered at the University of Alaska.
The United States, which has spent eight billion dollars on climate change research in recent years, says mandatory carbon dioxide cuts could lead to job loses and an economic downturn.
The British government wants to push a strategy to try to reduce global warming when it chairs the Group of Eight industrial nations and the European Union next year. Queen Elizabeth will open a conference on the issue in Berlin on Wednesday.