Monday, June 11, 2012

Climate change could chill international relations in Arctic

Jeremy Warren in the Star Phoenix: A new cold war is on the horizon in international politics, warns a report coauthored by a University of Saskatchewan researcher. This cold war is a fight over commercial opportunities in the Arctic, an increasingly important issue in international relations as climate change thaws out frozen transportation routes, says the report, Climate Change and International Security: The Arctic as a Bellwether.

"The Arctic is the first place where we're starting to see the security impacts of climate change and the geopolitical tensions," said Heather Exner-Pirot, a researcher with the U of S International Centre for Northern Governance and Development. "It's about oil and gas. These weren't accessible before. This would never have been profitable if the Arctic was still frozen. Now you can go in there with ships."

Strategic transportation routes - which can shorten trips by up to two weeks - are opening up in the Arctic because of a rapid decline in sea ice cover that has outpaced scientific projections, said the report, which Exner-Pirot co-wrote with University of Calgary researchers Rob Huebert and Adam Lajeunesse, along with Jay Gulledge from the Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions.

The report suggests the Arctic could be a "bellwether for how climate change may reshape geopolitics in the post-Cold War era" as the world's largest economies hunger for more natural resources. The United States Geological Society estimates about 30 per cent of the world's undiscovered gas and 13 per cent of the undiscovered oil could be found in the Arctic.

Some states - such as Russia and Norway - have responded to the changes by rebuilding military resources for the Arctic while other states have established plans to rebuild....

Norwegian oil rig Statfjord A, shot by Marcusroos 08:32, 27 September 2007 (UTC), Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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