Bound for Warsaw: Yukoner Scott Bradley serves as youth ambassador at United Nations Climate Summit

Dawson City resident Scott Bradley will be hooking up with 15,000 delegates from around the world next week to discuss climate change. Bradley has been invited to participate in the 19th annual Conference of Parties (COP19) in Warsaw, Poland from Nov. 11 to 22. It’s a conference hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change where delegates will learn about climate change in different regions of the Earth, and tailor strategies accordingly.

Bradley will be representing the Yukon as a climate change youth ambassador.

As a circumpolar region, the Yukon is subject to many negative consequences emerging from changing climates.

“We are seeing variations in our permafrost and our glaciers are diminishing,” Bradley says. “With warmer and less harsh winters we are also seeing an increase of invasive and new species.

“(The Yukon has) a lot of ice caps and glaciers that are in jeopardy of melting more and increasing sea levels.”

According to Barrard and Sharp 2010 statistics, melting glaciers in the Yukon have increased the sea levels by 1.3 mm. This is an issue that interests Bradley and he hopes to learn more about it from fellow Arctic region delegates, including Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Alaska, Greenland and Iceland, which share similar climates, and have the ability to affect one another.

Bradley has had an interest in climate change for quite some time. While surfing the internet one day, he saw a link to the Environment Yukon webpage regarding the youth ambassador position.

“I was intrigued and met the criteria so I decided to apply,” he says. “I had to send in a resume and a letter of interest with this application. I was invited down to Whitehorse for two interviews and was lucky enough to be chosen as Youth Ambassador.”

Bradley is looking forward to fulfilling his new role, and in the future he wouldn’t mind being involved with other climate control related issues.

Though the Yukon contributes less than one per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gasses, there are still improvements that can be made. In 2009, the Yukon government launched the Climate Change Action Plan to create awareness about issues ranging from shifting biomes, to melting glaciers, to thawing permafrost. Consistent temperatures play a critical role in maintaining ecological balance in the Yukon.

To combat greenhouse gasses and glacial melting, energy efficiency has been promoted and encouraged by the Yukon government for residential and commercial properties, as well as the transportation sector, with the goal of increasing energy efficiency in new buildings outside of Whitehorse by 25 per cent by 2020. The government action plan also strives to reduce the emissions from existing buildings by five per cent.

Delegates at COP19 will be able to learn about the Yukon’s efforts towards managing climate control through Bradley’s input.

“I intend to let others know that we are working hard to minimize our affects on climate change and will continue working at it to be more and more efficient,” he says.

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