Friday, January 27, 2012

Melting Ice Makes Arctic Access a Hot Commodity

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Jan 16, 2012 (IPS) - China, Brazil and India want seats on the Arctic Council as global warming creates new opportunities for shipping and resource extraction in the vast Arctic region.

There are concerns this is the beginning of a 21st century "scramble for the Arctic", but rather than staking territorial claims, non- Arctic countries want to exert economic and political influence in the region.

China already has a research station in Norway's high Arctic and is building an 8,000-tonne icebreaker.

Canada has a great opportunity to become an influential Arctic power, and to ensure the resource-rich but fragile region doesn't become a "Wild West" where the views of indigenous and other longstanding residents are ignored, said Tony Penikett, former premier of the Yukon, one of Canada's three Arctic territories.

In 2013, Canada will chair the Arctic Council, a highly influential governmental forum originally created to promote international cooperation in the North. The council faces major issues such as expanded membership, increases in trans-Arctic shipping, resource extraction, and environmental protection of the fragile region already hard hit by climate change. Read More