On the heels of a report citing Iceland as one of the five most likely countries to be entirely self-sufficient, Iceland’s president gave the opening speech of the Sustainable Development Summit in India. Optimistic in general, the speech included a somewhat open jab on the Bush administration. Citing recent findings by the Artic Council, which Iceland chaired until this November, Grímsson had an aggressive challenge to those who are not paying attention to climate change.
“Join me on a journey to the North, to the Arctic regions,” he suggested. “The evidence from the Arctic is indeed convincing and the consequences of the developments up North will affect the entire world, primarily through rising sea levels all over the globe and through dramatic changes in the conveyor belt of ocean currents which ranges from the North Atlantic to the Indian Ocean and onwards to the Pacific.”
Grímsson’s speech included one not so veiled jab at the president of the United States; something Iceland’s leaders in the government had taken pains to avoid during the chairmanship of the Arctic Council, of which the US is a member.
“If the doubting crowd in the debate on global warming, those who criticise all warnings of climatic change would accept my invitation to travel north they would be able to witness dramatic changes: the melting of glaciers throughout the Arctic, both in my own country and in Alaska, the state which again strongly voted George W. Bush into office…”
President Grímsson was able to reflect on the successes in Icelandic environmental policy, pointing out that while Iceland is “now in the forefront of the utilization of geothermal power, it was not always so; in the 1940s Reykjavík was covered by black smoke from coal fires…”
The Sustainable Development Summit will continue until Feb 5, and also features speakers from the United Nations, and presentations from Environmental ministers from throughout the world. For more information, and to see video of Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson’s speech, go to http://www.teriin.org/dsds/2005/.