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Greenland field trip Swiss president views Arctic climate change

Man and woman with glacier behind them

Swiss President Doris Leuthard in Greenland with Swiss climatologist Konrad Steffen

(Keystone)

Swiss President Doris Leuthard is in Greenland learning about the impact of climate change on the Arctic. 

“It is important for me to explore closely, together with the polar scientists, what we can expect in the future,” Leuthard told the Swiss News Agency ahead of the visit.

On Wednesday she explored the so-called Swiss Campexternal link meteorological base station in western Greenland. Under the leadership of Konrad Steffen from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Researchexternal link, Swiss scientists have been gathering data on snow, ice and the atmosphere in Greenland since the early 1990s.

“Glaciers are melting faster than predicted, also in Switzerland. In Greenland, we can see how these changes are taking place. I want to hear from experts to understand what this means for Europe’s climate and to know what politicians can do,” Leuthard said on Monday. In addition to holding Switzerland’s annually rotating presidency, Leuthard is the nation’s environment minister. 

Cooperation with Denmark 

Leuthard’s Greenland visit follows a meeting in Copenhagen on Monday with Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen. Talks focused on bilateral relations between the two countries, collaboration with the European Union, the consequences of Britain leaving the 27-nation bloc, migration and climate policy. 

Concerning the 2015 Paris climate treaty, both leaders stressed the need for ambitious emissions targets and strict rules. 

The Swiss president and the Danish prime minister also discussed international cooperation on the Arctic. In May, Switzerland became an observer to the Arctic Council. The council’s members include the eight Arctic states of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Canada, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US, as well as representatives of indigenous peoples and specialised organisations. 

On Friday Leuthard is set to attend Switzerland’s ‘national day’ at Expo 2017 in the Kazak capital, Astana. The first world exhibition to be held in central Asia is focusing on ‘future energy’ and the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies.

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