Monday October 21, 2019

Arctic Countries Meet to Discuss Policies on How to Deal with Global Warming

The Arctic Council is made up of the United States, Canada, Russia, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, with the region's indigenous populations also represented

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes his way to board a flight from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, as he heads for Rovaniemi, Finland to attend the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, May 5, 2019. VOA

Top diplomats from the United States, Russia and other nations which border the Arctic meet in Finland on Monday to discuss policies governing the polar region, as tensions grow over how to deal with global warming and access to mineral wealth.

Countries have been scrambling to claim territory or, like China, boost their presence in the region as thawing ice raises the possibility of exploiting much of the world’s remaining undiscovered reserves of oil and gas, plus huge deposits of minerals such as zinc, iron and rare earth metals.

With time-saving Arctic shipping routes also opening up, the Pentagon warned on May 2 of the risk of Chinese submarines in the Arctic.  That followed a sharp statement by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who will give a speech at the Arctic Council meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland on May 6 – rejecting a role for China in shaping Arctic policy.

“The U.S. has realized that they cannot leave the Russians and Chinese to carve up the Arctic as they see fit,” said Niklas Granholm, deputy director of studies at Sweden’s Defense Research Agency.

arctic nations, global warming
That could have a profound effect on the world’s weather as well as on wildlife and indigenous populations in the polar region. Wikimedia

The Arctic Council is made up of the United States, Canada, Russia, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, with the region’s indigenous populations also represented. China has had observer status at the Council since 2013, and has been increasingly active in the region, outlining a plan for a “Polar Silk Road” last year.

Russia has reopened military bases closed after the Cold War and is modernizing its powerful Northern Fleet. In response, the U.S. has reconstituted its Second Fleet, whose area of responsibility will include the North Pole.

The Arctic Council’s remit excludes military matters, but participants have already clashed, with the Washington Post reporting that the U.S. had refused to sign off on a final declaration, disagreeing with the wording on climate change.

Melting the Ice

“There are different tones with which different countries want to approach climate change,” Finland’s Arctic Ambassador Aleksi Harkonen said. “It’s not about whether climate change can be mentioned or not. It will be there, in the final declaration.”

arctic countries, global warming
The Arctic Council is made up of the United States, Canada, Russia, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, with the region’s indigenous populations also represented. Wikimedia

Surface air temperatures in the Arctic are warming at twice the rate of the rest of the globe, and the ocean could be ice-free during the summer months within 25 years, according to some researchers. That could have a profound effect on the world’s weather as well as on wildlife and indigenous populations in the polar region.

President Donald Trump has frequently expressed skepticism about whether global warming is a result of human activity and has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. That agreement aimed to limit a rise in average global temperatures to “well below” 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times by 2100.

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Another flashpoint in Finland could be the meeting between Pompeo and his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who will discuss the political crisis in Venezuela. Russia has accused the United States of trying to engineer a coup against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, one of its closest allies in Latin America.

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton told Russia to stop interfering in what he called America’s “hemisphere.” India, South Korea, Singapore, Italy and Japan have observer status at the Arctic Council in addition to China. (VOA)

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The UN Headquarters To Be Powered With Green Electricity From Gandhi Solar Park Gifted by India

The UN headquarters will be powered with green electricity when the Gandhi Solar Park gifted by India comes online on September 24

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UN, India, Solar Park, Climate, Global Warming
The installation costing about $1 million will generate 50 kilowatts of electricity from the 193 solar panels. Pixabay

The UN headquarters will be powered with green electricity when the Gandhi Solar Park gifted by India comes online on September 24 symbolising New Delhi’s commitment to fighting climate change.

The installation costing about $1 million will generate 50 kilowatts of electricity from the 193 solar panels, each representing a UN member nation.

India is also donating a Gandhi Peace Garden made up of 150 trees, which will be located at a university campus in Old Westbury as another environmental gift.

The two gifts that come in the year of the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth showcase two elements in the fight against climate change: Generating green energy from renewable resources through the solar park and using the trees to sequester (or capture back from the environment) carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.

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The UN will also be releasing a special stamp on Tuesday to commemorate Gandhi’s birth anniversary. Wikimedia Commons

The gifts mesh in with the focus of the high-level meetings of the UN General Assembly this year — fighting climate change, which Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called a “battle for our lives”.

ALSO READ: The Mayors Announce Their Support For Climate Change Strike

The UN will also be releasing a special stamp on Tuesday to commemorate Gandhi’s birth anniversary. (IANS)