Friday, April 24, 2015

Canada’s Arctic Council Chairmanship: Bad for Nature, Locals (Greenpeace)

Under Canada’s leadership, the Arctic Council has not only failed to take serious action to address climate change, but it has taken decisive action to make it worse, Greenpeace said in a report released earlier this month.

On Friday Canada will hand over to the United States the chairmanship of the Arctic Council, the intergovernmental forum comprised of eight Arctic nations, six Arctic Indigenous councils, observer nations and NGOs. Founded in 1996 in Ottawa, its inaugural mandate was Arctic protection and sustainable development.

When Canada first stepped up to chair the Arctic Council in May 2013 it claimed that the theme of its chairmanship would be “Development for the people of the North” and that its chairmanship would “put Northerners first.”

In reality, under Canada’s leadership the Arctic Council promoted the interests of big business and disempowered Northerners by refusing to take action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and promoting the extraction of Arctic oil and gas, according to a Greenpeace report, released earlier this month.

The Arctic Economic Council was intended as a circumpolar business forum focused on small and medium enterprises and Indigenous businesses. But when the rules and membership of the AEC were later announced, it became clear that it would actually serve as a lobbying body for big business interests from outside the Arctic, particularly oil and other extractive interests, said the report, titled The Practice and Promise of the Arctic Council.

Canada’s chairmanship set a low bar for what the Arctic Council can and should do toward environmental protection. Through serious reform and keeping focused on important issues like climate change, the US chairmanship has the potential to turn the Arctic Council into a meaningful forum on circumpolar issues, the Greenpeace report concluded.

The Arctic Council has eight member countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.

1 comment:

  1. Frozen Conflict: Fears Grow of Arctic Resources Standoff...

    As members from Arctic countries meet for talks in Canada, there are growing concerns that the global push for fossil fuels could turn the Arctic into the next 'resource battleground' as governments try and cash in on any potential energy deposits in the region.

    The biennial foreign ministers' meeting of the Arctic Council takes place in Nunavut, Northern Canada and sees representatives from the host nation, as well as Russia, the US, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, take part in a discussion about the future of the Arctic.

    Despite the council's aim to focus on cooperation in the North Pole, there are concerns among analysts who believe the Arctic may be the next contested zone for resources, as countries try and assert their claims to certain parts of the region.

    As global resources become increasingly scarce, there is a growing thought that countries with land claims and access to the Arctic will further increase exploration in the hope of finding new, untapped resources.

    As a result, many of the countries have experienced an increase in espionage activities in their Arctic regions.

    Canada is among the countries placing greater focus on its northern perimeter, with a national security and intelligence report in 2013 stating that:

    "Canada has been experiencing levels of espionage comparable to the height of the Cold War.".....


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