Arctic Council: climate protection vs. geopolitics
The Arctic Council, which has the task of balancing the interests of the Arctic states and the indigenous peoples of the region, convened in Iceland on Thursday. Both the US and Russia, which has taken over the chairmanship of the body for the next two years, are intensifying their activities in the area surrounding the North Pole. Commentators call for climate protection to be given precedence over geostrategic interests.
More interested in raw materials than in polar bears
A recently published alarming report on the impact of climate change has failed to diminish the appetite of many participating states for raw materials, Libération laments:
“What does the survival of polar bears matter in the face of unpredictable geopolitical interests? ... Beneath the ice lie treasures, such as 13 percent of the world's oil and incalculable reserves of uranium, cobalt and platinum. The survival of the bears that gave the area its name (from the Latin 'arcticus', meaning 'of the land of the bear') could easily fail ... And meanwhile those directly affected, the voters in Greenland, have just elected a 34-year-old environmentalist to power who is now the youngest prime minister in the world. The Arctic Council should take note.”
The tension-free times are over
Sweden should continue to pursue its goals in the region, Sydsvenskan urges:
“Climate issues affect everything from temperatures in individual countries and living conditions to global trade and security policy. This means that the importance of the Arctic Council's work is likely to increase. Unfortunately, the days when the Arctic was considered a tension-free area are over. It is understandable that [Foreign Minister] Ann Linde feels concern, and changing conditions may require new policies. But the Swedish objectives for the Arctic should remain the same - with a focus on détente and climate protection.”