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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Arctic Council News

Xi Jinping, President, China. Photo: Hellenic Chinese Center for Entrepreunership

China Reveals “Polar Silk Road” in Arctic

China unveiled its ambitions to develop a "Polar Silk Road" through the Arctic, joining a multinational race to exploit opportunities in the resource-rich region, as the shipping lanes opened up by global warming. China said it would encourage enterprises to build infrastructure and conduct commercial trial voyages, paving the way for Arctic shipping routes, in its first official Arctic policy white paper. "China hopes to work with all parties to build a 'Polar Silk Road' through developing the Arctic shipping routes," the paper, issued by the State Council Information Office, said.

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Cas Coly2)

China Unveils 'Polar Silk Road' Arctic Vision

China on Friday outlined its ambitions to extend President Xi Jinping's signature Belt and Road Initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming. Releasing its first official Arctic policy white paper, China said it would encourage enterprises to build infrastructure and conduct commercial trial voyages, paving the way for Arctic shipping routes that would form a "Polar Silk Road". "China hopes to work with all parties to build a 'Polar Silk Road' through developing the Arctic shipping routes," the paper, issued by the State Council Information Office, said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Official Portrait Photo John Kerry -@JohnKerry

Amid Melting Arctic Ice, Kerry sees Looming Climate Catastrophe

Standing near Greenland's Jakobshavn glacier, the reputed source of the iceberg that sank the Titanic over a century ago, U.S Secretary of State John Kerry saw evidence of another looming catastrophe. Giant icebergs broken off from the glacier seemed to groan as they drifted behind him, signaling eventual rising oceans that scientists warn will submerge islands and populated coastal region. Briefed by researchers aboard a Royal Danish Navy patrol ship, Kerry appeared stunned by how fast the ice sheets are melting.

Photo: The Whitmore Group

ECSA Looks Forward to Improvement of Shipping Conditions in Arctic

European shipowners believe that the three priority areas of the new EU Arctic Policy Communication published by the Commission this week address all topical Arctic matters. Climate change and environment, sustainable development and international cooperation in the Arctic are equally important. “We appreciate the focus of the EU to the Arctic matters by developing this more coherent framework for EU action and funding programmes in the Arctic. In all follow-up actions the Arctic States should continue to be consulted by the EU”, said ECSA Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven.

Image: China's Maritime Safety Administration

China to Use Arctic Shipping Route

China plans to make use of Arctic sea route for its shipping to shorten the distance by 30 per cent compared to the ocean passages traditionally used to connect the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans through Panama Canal. Chinese ships will navigate the Arctic via a Northwest Passage route that will be 30 per cent shorter than the ocean passages, official media here reported. “Once this route is commonly used, it will directly change global maritime transportation and have a profound influence on international trade…

Japan, Finland Cooperation for Arctic

Japan and Finland are ready for Arctic cooperation, including the use of the Northern Sea Route and the development of Barents Euro-Arctic region. The sea route has attracted global attention as shipping lanes have opened up due to global warming-induced loss of summer sea ice and is seen as a valuable route connecting Asia and Europe, the shortest possible sea passage linking the continents. The Abe-Niinisto talks came as Japan hopes to strengthen ties with Finland, especially in the development of the Arctic region, Japanese officials said.

Supply ship. Photo: WWF-Canada

Green Groups Urge Arctic Council Urged to Ban HFO

Environmental groups want the eight countries that ring the North Pole to take a stand on banning the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO), considered one of the greatest threats to the Arctic ecosystem, reports  Canadian Press. The use of heavy fuel oil by shipping in the Arctic could have disastrous consequences. Banning this fuel would protect the region’s rich wildlife, improve human health and benefit the climate. Larger cargo carrying ships, tankers and larger cruise ships almost always use HFO, one of the world’s dirtiest and most polluting ship fuels.

Photo Credit: Alamy

Canada and Sweden Cooperate on Arctic Science

Canada and Sweden have reached a deal to share data that could help support Canadian claims to a vast swath of the Arctic beyond its natural borders. The two northern nations signed a new five-year "Arctic science cooperation agreement" during a meeting in Stockholm between Canada's Science Minister Kristy Duncan and Bjorn Dahlback, head of the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat. This new five-year arrangement between Natural Resources Canada and SPRS aims to enhance scientific cooperation in the Arctic through collaborative activities including elements such as marine surveying…

Photo by by U.S. Geological Survey/Flickr

Poland Launches 'Go Arctic'

Poland joins countries looking to tap into its natural resources, as minerals and fossil fuels become more accessible for exploitation. The Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency (PAIiIZ) has organized and sent the first business mission of Polish entrepreneurs to Denmark and Greenland. The delegation of over ten companies left for a four-day trip at the start of the week, marking the official launch of the Go Artic campaign. The Go Arctic program was established to promote the investment attractiveness of Arctic to Polish companies.

Workshop Participants Photo BSEE

BSEE Participates in Circumpolar Gap Analysis Workgroup

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement staff from the Oil Spill Preparedness Division attended an international workshop last month that focused on how Arctic meteorological and oceanographic conditions can affect traditional oil spill response strategies. The Arctic Council​'s​ Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response working group approved a project in late 2014 to study the effects of environmental factors such as wind, temperature, sea state, and ice coverage on traditional oil spill response tactics.

Speech by Andrew Tan, Chief Executive of MPA at 3rd Busan International Port Conference (Photo: MPA)

MPA Calls for Integrated Approach to Blue Economy

In his opening address at the Sustainable Ocean Summit 2015 held in Singapore today, Chief Executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) Mr Andrew Tan called for an integrated approach bringing together the science, the research, technology and different disciplines to understand the various eco-systems within the oceans and uncover more of the nexus between land and sea and how each affects the other. Tan's speech also underlined four principles to ensure an enduring Blue Economy that fulfils the twin goals of growth and sustainability, i.e.

Image: Xinhua

Chinese Ships Spotted off Alaska

Five Chinese Navy ships are sailing in international waters in the Bering Sea off Alaska coast, coinciding with President Barack Obama’s visit to the the U.S. state. US defence officials have spotted three Chinese combat ships, a supply vessel and an amphibious ship moving toward the Aleutian Islands which is split between Russian and US control, according to the Wall Street Journal. Its for the first time the U.S. military has seen them in the area. The U.S. has been tracking the flotilla – made up of three combat ships, a resupply ship and an amphibious ship – for days.

Eight countries of the Arctic Council (AC), form the Arctic Coast Guard Forum (AFBO)

AFBO to Provide Security in Arctic Waters

State of the Arctic Council to establish a new mechanism to strengthen operational cooperation and coordination of activities at sea. This is dictated by the need to provide security in the Arctic waters. The eight countries of the Arctic Council (AC), form the Arctic Coast Guard Forum (AFBO), the chief of the press service of the US Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander (captain of the third rank), Dave French. It is a joint initiative of the countries have common interests in the Arctic.

Iceland left out

Iceland Left out of Arctic Fishing Accord

Iceland was not involved in the creation of the new joint cooperation agreement on fishing in the Arctic Ocean, and insists it should be included. The five nations involved in the agreements since 2008 all have coastal boundaries with the Arctic Ocean, whereas other Arctic Council members Sweden, Finland and Iceland do not. The meeting at the ministry with the ambassadors of the USA, Denmark, Canada, Norway and Russia took place yesterday and allowed the Icelandic authorities to express their disappointment and displeasure at being left out.

Arctic Nations

Arctic Nations to Fight Climate Change Despite Russia Tensions

The eight Arctic Council nations pledged on Friday to do more to combat climate change that is shrinking the vast frigid region, with countries trying to put aside disputes over issues like Russia's intervention in Ukraine. Meeting in the Canadian town of Iqaluit, 300 km (200 miles) south of the Arctic Circle, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States pledged to work to address emissions of black carbon and methane. Both are seen as particularly harmful to the Arctic…

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Lavrov: No need for NATO in the Arctic

During the open lecture on Russia’s foreign policy, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that he could see no need for NATO presence in the Arctic. ‘From time to time, we have heard talks on NATO wishing to grow its presence in the region, long before the events in Ukraine. They continue to claim this. NATO doctrines periodically mention the military factor will increase in the Arctic in the context of increased competition for resources,’ said the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr.: USCG photo

Alaska Welcomes USCG Admiral Papp Arctic Assignment

Alaska Senate Majority informs that it welcomes news that Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., the 24th Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard since May 25, 2010, has been appointed by the U.S. State Department as a Special Representative for the Arctic Region. The Co-chairs also were very pleased to see Fran Ulmer, President Obama's Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, named Special Advisor on Arctic Science and Policy. “As Co-Chairs of the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission, we have fought hard to make sure Alaska’s voice is heard.

GAO: U.S. Can Do Better on Arctic Policy

The U.S. needs a better strategy to coordinate and prioritize its policies related to the Arctic region, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study out today that was released by Reps. Rick Larsen (WA-02), Tim Bishop (NY-01), John Garamendi (CA-03) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK). The GAO study focused on U.S. participation in the Arctic Council, a voluntary body started in 1996 that includes the eight Arctic nations—Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the U.S., as well as indigenous groups and other stakeholders.

Senator Mark Begich: Photo credit Press Office

Key Arctic Bills Introduced by Alaska Senator

New bills introduced by US Senator Mark Begich are aimed to strengthen Arctic science, health and diplomacy. "As we face an Arctic Ocean which is increasingly ice-free, our country has both an historic opportunity and enormous challenges,” U.S. Sen. Mark Begich said. Strengthening America’s understanding of changes underway in the Arctic, the impacts of Arctic warming on the health of northern residents and strengthening the nation’s international presence in the Arctic are the subjects of three bills recently introduced in the Senate by Begich .

China Gains Formal Arctic Council Recognition

At the recent 8th Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council, China and another 5 states were granted observer status in the organization. Founded in 1996, the group now has eight member states in the Arctic region, including Russia, the United States, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. China first applied for observer status in the organization in 2006, and since 2007, it has been acting as an ad hoc observer. Qu Xing, head of the China Institute of International Studies…

Arctic Council Sign Oil Spill Agreement

At their recent meeting the circumpolar states of the Arctic Council have agreed to tackle oil spill disasters as a team. The Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic—the Council’s second ever binding agreement—was signed by all eight Arctic ministers, reports the Barents Observer. In the event of an oil spill anywhere in the ecologically sensitive Arctic region, this new agreement is the tool the circumpolar countries are hoping will help them work together to clean it up.

Arctic Summer Ice: Photo courtesy of NOAA

Arctic Council Taking Regional Development Reins

What was once a small group meeting to discuss scientific & technical cooperation has grown into a forum in which legally binding agreements between states are brokered. In the 16 years since the creation of the Arctic Council, both the physical environment of the Arctic and the level of international attention paid to this once-obscure forum have changed dramatically. At the Council's latest meeting in mid-May, in Kiruna, Sweden, ministers added new international observers, bolstered the Council's governance capacity and agreed on a common vision for the next 16 years…

John Kerry

US Will Add a State Representative for the Arctic

In a press release announcing a new U.S. Secretary Kerry announced that the State Department will add a Special Representative for the Arctic Region, a high-level official of stature who will play a critical role in advancing American interests in the Arctic Region, particularly as it prepares efforts for the United States to Chair the Arctic Council in 2015. “President Obama and I are committed to elevating our attention and effort to keep up with the opportunities and consequences…

Greenpeace on a mission to protect the Arctic is carrying a specially designed time capsule that contains a 2.7 million signature declaration demanding that the Arctic be designated an internationally recognized global sanctuary. (© Christian Aslund / Greenpeace)

Arctic Sanctuary Sought Around North Pole

The European Parliament today passed a resolution calling for a protected area around the North Pole which could ban oil companies and industrial fishing fleets from the region. The text echoes the demands of an international campaign which has attracted the support of over five million people including Sir Paul McCartney and U.S. oceanographer, Sylvia Earle. The move represents a clear break from the current positions of ‘Arctic Council’ members such as Norway, Denmark, Canada and Russia who have resisted calls for permanent protection of the Arctic region.

Norwegian Seminar to Focus on Financing, Procurement

The challenges of managing efficient procurement  processes and getting the right funding in the shipping and offshore sectors is the topic for a major half day conference in Singapore later this month. Coinciding with the Asia Pacific Maritime (APM) event on March 20, the Norwegian Procurement and Finance seminar is aimed at operators seeking to build vessels, capital goods or services within the shipping and offshore industries, or Norwegian exporters in these fields. The session…

USCG photo

US Bill Introduced to Establish Arctic Ambassador

Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) introduced a bill to amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to establish a United States Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs. Currently, 20 government agencies are handling Arctic policy. Under this legislation, an Ambassador would be charged with all coordination and serve as Chair of the Arctic Council when the U.S. assumes Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 2015-2017. Congressman Sensenbrenner said, “We need someone with ambassadorial rank to show that the U.S. is serious about being an Arctic nation.