Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




ICE WORLD
Arctic Council admits China, six others as observers
by Staff Writers
Kiruna, Sweden (AFP) May 15, 2013


Canada pushes development as it takes over Arctic Council
Ottawa (AFP) May 15, 2013 - Canada said Wednesday it will promote unprecedented industrial development in the far north as it takes over the helm of the Arctic Council, while activists called for a ban on oil drilling.

Leona Aglukkaq, minister for northern affairs, told a teleconference from Sweden: "With the help of our Arctic Council partners, we will focus on creating economic development and sustainable northern communities."

It is a priority embraced by all Arctic Council members, she said, adding that it must be done in an "environmentally sustainable manner."

The intergovernmental forum -- composed of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States -- aims to promote cooperation on environmental protection, oil and mineral exploitation, shipping, tourism and fishing.

At a biennial gathering, which took place in the town of Kiruna, Sweden, Canada took over the rotating two-year chairmanship of the group, which is at a crossroads.

Rising temperatures have boosted international interest in the polar region, as melting ice opens up shipping routes and makes hitherto inaccessible mineral resources easier to exploit.

Global warming is happening twice as fast in the Arctic than elsewhere on the planet, and many fear not only devastating impacts of warming but also from an influx of people and industry on the pristine environment, wildlife and Inuit culture.

Aglukkaq's declaration came as Greenpeace protested outside Canada's parliament to press Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government to ban oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, which is believed to be rich in hydrocarbons.

The activist group also called for an uninhabited area around the North Pole to be declared a sanctuary, to be protected from large-scale industrial development, such as oil drilling and industrial fishing.

"We will not stand by and let the Harper government use the next two years to advance its destructive industrial agenda at the Arctic Council," said Greenpeace's Christy Ferguson.

"The Arctic Council should be a forum for preventing environmental disasters like oil spills and fighting climate change -- not facilitating them."

Aglukkaq countered that northern residents "want development."

The minister noted that mines or other industrial projects must be approved "largely by aboriginal peoples" as part of land claims agreements with the Canadian government.

The Arctic Council, at a meeting Wednesday in northern Sweden, granted permanent observer status to China and six others, in a powerful signal of the polar region's growing international importance.

Foreign ministers of the eight-member council, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, made the decision at a biennial gathering, which took place in the town of Kiruna.

The other countries given permanent observer status were India, Italy, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, adding to the geographic reach of the once-obscure group which promotes cooperation on environmental protection, oil and mineral exploitation, shipping, tourism and fishing.

"It strengthens the position of the Arctic Council on the international scene," said Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who chaired the meeting.

The Arctic Council received an application for permanent EU observer status "affirmatively", but deferred a final decision on the issue.

"It will be implemented once certain questions have been tackled, but the decision means that the EU already now can act as an observer," Bildt's spokesman Erik Zsiga told AFP.

The nature of the Council's reservations were not disclosed.

But Canada, which took over the Arctic Council chairmanship on Wednesday, is known to be at loggerheads with the EU over a European ban on products derived from the seal hunt, which the EU says is conducted using inhumane methods.

Permanent observers have no voting rights in the Council, but unlike ad hoc observers they are automatically invited to the group's meetings.

"It signals openness, and it reflects the fact that many countries outside the Arctic area also have legitimate interests in the development of the region," Danish Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal said in a statement.

Rising temperatures have boosted international interest in the polar region, as melting ice causes transport routes to open up and makes hitherto inaccessible mineral resources easier to exploit.

The Arctic is believed to hold some 90 billion barrels of oil and 30 percent of the world's yet-to-be discovered natural gas resources.

"When it comes to Singapore for example it is very clear that it is shipping issues they are interested in, the same thing is true for India," Bildt told Swedish Radio.

China has opened an Arctic research centre in Norway's far north Svalbard region, and in mid-2012 the first Chinese ice breaker travelled from the Pacific to the Atlantic via the Arctic along the Russian coast, a 40 percent shorter route to Europe.

"China values the scientific research and environmental protection (work) of the Arctic Council," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told journalists in Beijing on Wednesday, before the council announced taking on China as a permanent observer.

"(It) has always supported the principles and purposes of the Arctic Council," he said.

Bildt said yet more countries were lining up to apply for observer status, including Turkey and Mongolia.

Global warming is happening twice as fast in the Arctic as elsewhere on the planet, Bildt noted.

"The changing climate... creates new opportunities, not least for the Arctic states," he said.

"These, however, are also fraught with new challenges, and threats that must be confronted."

The Arctic Council is composed of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. A total of 13 countries now hold observer status, after Wednesday's decision.

Meanwhile, Greenland boycotted Wednesday's meeting after Sweden refused to accept its representatives on an equal footing with other members, its prime minister said.

"Until Sweden took over the chairmanship in 2011, Denmark had three chairs at the table with a representative for each part of the Danish Commonwealth," Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond told Greenland daily Sermistiaq.

Arctic Greenland, along with the Faeroe Islands, is part of the Danish Commonwealth. Under a home rule agreement with Denmark, Greenland has full control of its raw materials and internal affairs, while decisions on defence and international affairs reside with Denmark.

"When the Swedes took over, the commonwealth was only given one chair and Greenland and the Faeroe Islands had to sit behind and not directly in the negotiations," Hammond added, saying she feared that a new Canadian chairmanship would adopt the same principle.

.


Related Links
Beyond the Ice Age






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





ICE WORLD
Ice-free Arctic may be in our future
Amherst MA (SPX) May 13, 2013
Analyses of the longest continental sediment core ever collected in the Arctic, recently completed by an international team led by Julie Brigham-Grette of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, provide "absolutely new knowledge" of Arctic climate from 2.2 to 3.6 million years ago. "While existing geologic records from the Arctic contain important hints about this time period, what we are ... read more


ICE WORLD
Where on Earth did the moon's water come from

Water on moon, Earth have a common source

Northrop Grumman Completes Lunar Lander Study for Golden Spike Company

Scientists Use Laser to Find Soviet Moon Rover

ICE WORLD
NASA Curiosity Rover Team Selects Second Drilling Target on Mars

Opportunity Making Smallest Turn Yet, As Dust Storm Affects Rover

More than 78,000 people apply for one-way trip to Mars

Austria Aims For Mars Via Morocco

ICE WORLD
Danish Space Venture ready for lift off

Researchers use graphene quantum dots to detect humidity and pressure

Outside View: Patents laws and suffering innovators

Glow-in-the-Dark Plants on the ISS

ICE WORLD
China launches communications satellite

On Course for Shenzhou 10

Yuanwang III, VI depart for space-tracking missions

Shenzhou's Shadow Crew

ICE WORLD
ISS Statistics Tell the Story of Science in Orbit

Spaceman says goodbye to ISS with David Bowie classic

Canadian ISS astronaut returns to Earth a star

NASA astronauts on spacewalk to fix ammonia leak

ICE WORLD
ATV Albert Einstein installed on Ariane 5 launcher

ILS and EchoStar Sign Launch Contract

NASA Awards Contract to Modify Mobile Launcher

Angara Rocket Launch Delayed to 2014

ICE WORLD
Team Takes Part in Discovering New Planet

"Kepler's Dozen" - 13 Stories About Distant Worlds That Really Exist

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope Finds Dead Stars Polluted with Planet Debris

The Great Exoplanet Debate

ICE WORLD
Scientists uncover the fundamental property of astatine, the rarest atom on Earth

Heady mathematics

Cornstarch proves to be worth its weight in gold

One order of steel; hold the greenhouse gases




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement