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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Circumpolar Leaders Gather For Arctic Imperative Summit

Summit Convenes Decision-Makers on Infrastructure Investment, Natural Resources, Policy and Security During Time of Rapid Arctic Change.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Aug. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire

— Rapid change in the Arctic due to melting sea ice brings new opportunities and challenges.

To address the complex Arctic agenda, an influential mix of international, U.S. and local leaders will convene at the second Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24–27, 2012, in Anchorage and Girdwood, Alaska.

MISSION:

Sharpening the world’s focus on the short-term opportunities and long-term challenges of Arctic development, the Summit features a multidisciplinary group of experts. By engaging with decision-makers from all sectors, Arctic leaders will be in a stronger position to influence responsible development decisions on their shores.

PROGRAM EXCERPT:

- Plenary sessions on infrastructure needs and investment opportunities in the U.S. Arctic, including a proposed Bering Sea port authority to manage traffic growth;

- Panel discussions on shipping and transportation developments, moderated by industry experts;

- Keynote speeches from military leaders on Arctic sovereignty and security;

- Perspectives and observations from indigenous residents, including “The Eskimo and the Oil Man,” a conversation with author Bob Reiss andEdward Itta, former mayor, North Slope Borough, Alaska;

- Panel discussions on sustainable development, governance and the race for resources;

- Instructive case studies, such as the recent Renda fuel delivery to Nome;

- A screening of “Project Chariot,” a documentary on the U.S. government’s ill-fated plan to use a nuclear bomb to create a deep-water Arctic port inAlaska; and much more.

The Summit schedule can be found here: bit.ly/NAhY5u. A detailed agenda will be released prior to the event.

FEATURED SPEAKERS:

The Honorable James A. Baker III, Former U.S. Secretary of State

The Honorable Mark Begich, U.S. Senator, State of Alaska

Charles K. Ebinger, Director, Energy Security Initiative, Brookings

The Honorable Olafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland

The Honorable David J. Hayes, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior

General Charles H. Jacoby Jr., Commander, U.S. Northern Command

Marilyn Heiman, Director, U.S. Arctic Program, Pew Environment Group

The Honorable Edward Itta, Former Mayor, North Slope Borough, Alaska

Chris Matthews, Host, “Hardball with Chris Matthews” and “The Chris Matthews Show”

Scott Minerd, Chief Investment Officer, Guggenheim Partners

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senator, State of Alaska

General Walter Natynczyk, Chief of the Defense Staff, Canadian Forces

Thomas R. Nides, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, U.S. Department of State

General Joseph W. Ralston, Vice Chairman, The Cohen Group

David M. Rubenstein, Co-founder, The Carlyle Group

The Honorable Mead Treadwell, Lieutenant Governor, State of Alaska

Felix H. Tschudi, Chairman and Owner, Tschudi Group

The Honorable Fran Ulmer, Chair, U.S. Arctic Research Commission

A comprehensive list of speakers can be found here: bit.ly/LXTc2g.

“The rapid changing of the Arctic environment demands responsible and sustainable development,” says Alice Rogoff, founder of the Arctic Imperative Summit. “Solutions to the complex needs of this region will only be reached if all stakeholders, including its residents, are at the table.”

REGISTRATION:

Summit registration is available online at bit.ly/Lt6ihQ. Please contact Nolan Frame at arcticimperative@shworldwide.comwith questions.

MEDIA:

Media with relevant assignments will be granted access to the Summit at no charge and may register online at bit.ly/Lt6ihQ. Gallery seating will be provided in the back of the meeting facilities to watch the Summit live. A media room will also be provided on-site. Boxed meals will be provided, along with access to receptions and dinners. Please contact Tim Fitzpatrick at fitzpidgeon@gmail.com for assistance in coordinating on-site interviews or with general media queries.

ONLINE ACCESS:

Following the summit, presentations can be accessed on the event’s Vimeo page at bit.ly/LXY0oj.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Please follow us on Twitter at @ArcticSummit, hashtag #AIS2012, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/arcticimperativesummit for Arctic news and Summit highlights.

SPONSORSHIP:

The Summit offers an excellent opportunity for your organization to enhance its profile among Arctic decision-makers. For further details on remaining promotional packages, contact Jenny Gilman at jenny@alaskadispatch.com.

THE ARCTIC WIRE:

Read in-depth coverage on news and politics across the circumpolar North on The Arctic Wire.

ABOUT THE ARCTIC IMPERATIVE:

The Arctic Imperative is an independent nonpartisan organization founded by Alice Rogoff, publisher of AlaskaDispatch.com. The mission of the Summit is to sharpen the world’s focus on the policy and investment needs of the Arctic and provide a platform for local, state, national and international leaders to make measured Arctic development decisions.

CONTACTS:

Toll-Free Information:
800-718-6528
info@arcticimperative.com

Registration:
Nolan Frame
800-718-6528

arcticimperative@shworldwide.com


PR Newswire (s.tt/1kkvx)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 13th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

What government can afford to allow an activity without insurance?

What if the activity is outside National frontiers – in the Global Commons. Who has then to license such activities?

Arctic oil rush will ruin ecosystem, warns Lloyd’s of London.

Insurance market joins environmentalists in highlighting risks of drilling in fragile region as $100bn investment is predicted.

www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/12/lloyds-london-warns-risks-arctic-oil-drilling

and 

The Guardian, Wednesday 11 April 2012

Lloyd’s of London, the world’s biggest insurance market, has become the first major business organisation to raise its voice about huge potential environmental damage from oil drilling in the Arctic.

The City institution estimates that $100bn (£63bn) of new investment is heading for the far north over the next decade, but believes cleaning up any oil spill in the Arctic, particularly in ice-covered areas, would present “multiple obstacles, which together constitute a unique and hard-to-manage risk”.

Richard Ward, Lloyd’s chief executive, urged companies not to “rush in [but instead to] step back and think carefully about the consequences of that action” before research was carried out and the right safety measures put in place.

The main concerns, outlined in a report drawn up with the help of the Chatham House thinktank, come as the future of the Arctic is reviewed by a House of Commons select committee and just two years after the devastating BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

The far north has become a centre of commercial attention as global temperatures rise, causing ice to melt in a region that could hold up to a quarter of the world’s remaining hydrocarbon reserves.

Cairn Energy and Shell are among the oil companies that have either started or are planning new wells off the coasts of places such as Greenland and Canada, while Total – currently at the centre of a North Sea gas leak – wants to develop the Shtokman field off Russia.

Shtokman is the largest single potential offshore Arctic project, 350 miles into the Russian-controlled part of the Barents Sea, where investment could reach $50bn.

A BP joint venture is planning to spend up to $10bn on developing onshore oilfields in the Yamal-Nenets autonomous area of Russia, despite its experiences with the Macondo oil spill in the relatively benign waters of the Gulf. A series of onshore mining schemes are also planned, with Lakshmi Mittal, Britain’s richest man, wanting to develop a new opencast mine 300 miles inside the Arctic circle in a bid to extract up to £14bn of iron ore.

But the new report from Lloyd’s, written by Charles Emmerson and Glada Lahn of Chatham House, says it is “highly likely” that future economic activity in the Arctic will further disturb ecosystems already stressed by the consequences of climate change.

“Migration patterns of caribou and whales in offshore areas may be affected. Other than the direct release of pollutants into the Arctic environment, there are multiple ways in which ecosystems could be disturbed, such as the construction of pipelines and roads, noise pollution from offshore drilling, seismic survey activity or additional maritime traffic as well as through the break-up of sea ice.”

The authors point out that the Arctic is not one but several ecosystems, and is “highly sensitive to damage” that would have a long-term impact. They are calling for “baseline knowledge about the natural environment and consistent environmental monitoring”. Pollution sources include mines, oil and gas installations, industrial sites and, in the Russian Arctic, nuclear waste from civilian and military installations, and from nuclear weapons testing on Novaya Zemlya. The report singles out a potential oil spill as the “greatest risk in terms of environmental damage, potential cost and insurance” – but says there are significant knowledge gaps in this area.

Rates of natural biodegradation of oil in the Arctic could be expected to be lower than in more temperate environments such as the Gulf of Mexico, although there is currently insufficient understanding of how oil will degrade over the long term in the Arctic. Sea ice could assist in some oil-spill response techniques, such as in-situ burning and chemical dispersant application, but this could lead to air pollution and the release of chemicals into the marine environment without knowing where moving ice will eventually carry them.

Unclear legal boundaries posed by a mosaic of regulations and governments in the Arctic are an additional challenge. The Lloyd’s report notes that there is no international liability and compensation regime for oil spills. An EU proposal under discussion would apply to offshore oil projects in the Arctic territories of Norway and Denmark, and possibly to all EU companies anywhere they operate.

Meanwhile, a taskforce is drawing up recommendations for the intergovernmental Arctic Council on an international instrument on marine oil pollution designed to speed up the process for clean-up and compensation payments, due for release next year. This may include an international liability and compensation instrument. Greenland has argued that “different national systems may lead to ambiguities and unnecessary delays in oil pollution responses and compensation payments” and that any regime must adapt as understanding of the worst-case scenario in the Arctic changes.

The Lloyd’s report says the “inadequacies” of both company and government in the event of a disaster were demonstrated after the Macondo blowout. A smaller company than BP, faced with estimated $40bn clean-up and compensation costs, might have gone bankrupt, leaving the state to foot the bill, it notes.

Lloyd’s says it is essential that there is more investment in science and research to “close knowledge gaps, reduce uncertainties and manage risks”. It calls for sizeable investment in infrastructure and surveillance to enable “safe economic activity” and argues that “full-scale exercises based on worst-case scenarios of environmental disaster should be run by companies”.

The Arctic’s vulnerable environment, unpredictable climate and lack of a precedent on which to base cost assessments have led some environmental NGOs to argue that no compensation would be worth the risk of allowing drilling to take place in pristine offshore areas. Others are campaigning for more stringent regulations and the removal of the liability cap for investors.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Arctic Explorers Get Nasty Surprise: Rain

Date: 28-Apr-10
Elef Rignes Island,CANADA
by David Ljunggren

In what looks to be another sign the Arctic is heating up quickly, British explorers in Canada’s Far North reported on Tuesday that they had been hit by a three-minute rain shower over the weekend.

The rain fell on the team’s ice base off Ellef Rignes island, about 3,900 km (2,420 miles) north of the Canadian capital, Ottawa.

“It’s definitely a shocker … the general feeling within the polar community is that rainfall in the high Canadian Arctic in April is a freak event,” said Pen Hadow, the team’s expedition director.

“Scientists would tell us that we can expect increasingly to experience these sorts of outcomes as the climate warms,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview from London.

The Arctic is heating up three times more quickly than the rest of the Earth. Scientists link the higher temperatures to the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

Tyler Fish, a polar guide at the base, said the rain fell after temperatures had been rising for a couple of days.

“I think we were disappointed. Rain isn’t something you expect in the Arctic and a lot of us came up here to be away from that kind of weather,” he said.

“We worry that if it’s too warm maybe some of the scientific samples will start to thaw … or the food will get too warm and spoil,” he told Reuters by satellite phone.

Hadow said a Canadian scientific camp about 145 km west of the ice base had been hit by rain at the same time.

The base off Elles Rignes is supplying a three-member team out on the ice another 1,100 km further north. The trio is studying the impact of increased carbon dioxide absorption by the sea, which could make the water more acidic.

Experts say the thick multiyear ice covering the Arctic Ocean has effectively vanished, which could make it easier to open up polar shipping routes. U.S. data shows the 2009 ice cover was the third-lowest on record, after 2007 and 2008.

Hadow said the team carrying out the carbon dioxide experiments had noticed that ice was abnormally thin and was moving around more than they expected. The winds were stronger than usual.

Earlier this month an ice floe the team’s tent was moored on suddenly broke apart, although no one was injured. The team is due to leave the ice in the first half of next month and should release preliminary results later this year.

The expedition is sponsored by British insurer Catlin.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

CLIMATE CHANGE-BOLIVIA
In Defence of Pachamama
By Franz Chávez

LA PAZ, Apr 16, 2010 (IPS) – Through their ancestral knowledge and traditions, indigenous peoples will make a unique and invaluable contribution to the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which begins Monday, Apr. 19 in the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba.

Julio Quette of the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Eastern Bolivia (CIDOB) told IPS that the 74 different indigenous groups who inhabit South America’s Amazon region “have traditionally coexisted with nature and the forests,” and that it is up to the industrialized countries to halt the pollution and destruction of the planet.

For her part, Jenny Gruenberger, executive director of the Environmental Defence League (LIDEMA), commented to IPS that “Bolivia could make an enormous contribution based on the traditional knowledge of the indigenous and aboriginal nations that make up this plurinational state.”

The country is officially known as the Plurinational State of Bolivia, in recognition of the fact that over 60 percent of Bolivians belong to one of its numerous indigenous ethnic groups.

A total of 17 working groups have been organized as part of the World People’s Conference, to address issues such as the structural causes of climate change, living in harmony with nature, and the rights of Mother Earth, or Pachamama.

Other working groups will focus on a proposed global referendum on climate change; another proposal to establish a Climate Justice Tribunal or International Environmental Court; climate migrants; indigenous peoples; the climate debt; a “shared vision” for action (a concept introduced by developed countries under the Bali Action Plan adopted at the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference); the Kyoto Protocol; climate change adaptation; financing; technology transfer; forests; the dangers of the carbon market; action strategies; and agriculture and food sovereignty.

Bolivian President Evo Morales, who is an Aymara Indian himself, announced that the conference will be attended by fellow presidents Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, and Fernando Lugo of Paraguay.

More than 15,000 people from 126 countries around the world have registered to attend.

Among the prominent figures whose participation has been confirmed by the Bolivian Foreign Ministry are Alberto Acosta, president of the Constituent Assembly of Ecuador; Miguel D’Escoto, Nicaraguan diplomat and former president of the United Nations General Assembly; and Edigio Brunetto, a leader of Brazil’s Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).

In addition, more than 50 scientists, social movement leaders, researchers, academics and artists from around the globe have agreed to speak on 14 panels, including Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva, best-selling Canadian author Naomi Klein, and Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano.

“Latin American organisations and governments could acquire all the capacity they need to confront the influence of the industrialised nations and become a centre of resistance against the current development model, but first they need to agree upon a unified stance,” LIDEMA research coordinator Marco Ribera commented to IPS.

Ribera said that it is time for the region’s countries to put aside the “different interests” they each pursue and to use the Cochabamba conference as a forum to build “strong technical and political proposals with a high degree of legitimacy to negotiate at the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

Ribera believes the upcoming conference could become a new forum for the struggle in defence of the planet, given the opportunity it will provide for the world’s people to express their views and proposals, “an opportunity they are not offered in official forums for international negotiations.”

Justo Zapata, a Bolivian energy expert, spoke to IPS about one of the issues that will be addressed at the conference: the campaign for the use of “clean” fuels.

Bolivia has the second largest reserves of natural gas in the Americas, with proven and probable reserves of 49 trillion cubic feet. Yet the population continues to consume large quantities of gasoline, liquefied gas and diesel fuel, for which the government spends 500 million dollars annually to subsidise low prices, said Zapata.

Venezuela provides the country with gasoline and gas oil, both highly polluting fuels, while the population of the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo enjoys the clean natural gas exported by Bolivia, he noted.

Rectifying this situation is a matter of both economic and environmental defence, stressed Zapata, who called for large-scale initiatives such as the construction of domestic natural gas pipelines to benefit the population, as well as an end to neoliberal-inspired trade policies that prioritise exports over the domestic market.

————————————————————

New York, 19 April 2010 -

Secretary-General’s remarks at opening of the Ninth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Elders, Distinguished representatives of Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the Ninth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Many of you have traveled long distances to be here today, and I thank you very much.

Indigenous peoples often live in the most isolated places on earth – from the Arctic to the African savannah.

But the United Nations is working to make sure that indigenous people themselves are not isolated.

You have a unique place in the global community. You are full and equal members of the United Nations family.

And we will continue to support and protect your human rights and fundamental freedoms, and your right to pursue social and economic development.

I attach great importance to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted in September 2007.

In that landmark document, UN Member States and indigenous peoples sought to reconcile with their painful histories and resolved to move forward together towards human rights, justice and development for all.

I congratulate you once again on this achievement.

———
Ladies and gentlemen,

We have made significant progress on indigenous peoples’ issues at the United Nations over the past forty years.

Apart from the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, other notable achievements include the establishment of this Permanent Forum, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous issues are more prominent on the international agenda than ever before. And yet, we can not even begin to be content with our progress.

The first-ever United Nations report on the State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples in January set out some alarming statistics.

Indigenous peoples suffer high levels of poverty, health problems, crime and human rights abuses all over the world.

You make up some five per cent of the world’s population – but one-third of the world’s poorest.

In some countries, an indigenous person is 600 times more likely to contract tuberculosis than the general population.

In others, an indigenous child can expect to die twenty years earlier than his non-native compatriots.

Every day, indigenous communities face issues of violence, brutality and dispossession.

Indigenous cultures, languages and ways of life are under constant threat from climate change, armed conflict, lack of educational opportunities and discrimination.

Elsewhere, your cultures are being distorted, commodified, and used to generate profits which do not benefit indigenous people, and can even lead to harm.

This is not only a tragedy for indigenous people. It is a tragedy for the whole world.

Slowly but surely, people are coming to understand that the well-being and sustainability of indigenous peoples are matters that concern us all.

Diversity is strength – in cultures and in languages, just as it is in ecosystems.

The loss of irreplaceable cultural practices and means of artistic expression makes us all poorer, wherever our roots may lie.

According to current forecasts, ninety per cent of all languages could disappear within 100 years. The loss of these languages erodes an essential component of a group’s identity.

That is why the special theme of your forum this year, “Development with Culture and Identity,” is particularly appropriate. It highlights the need to craft policy measures that promote development while respecting indigenous peoples’ values and traditions.

We need development that is underpinned by the values of reciprocity, solidarity and collectivity. And we need development that allows indigenous peoples to exercise their right to self-determination through participation in decision-making on an equal basis.

———–

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The United Nations will continue to support you.

I call on all Governments, indigenous peoples, the UN system and all other partners to ensure that the vision behind the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples becomes a reality for all.

I wish you a very successful Forum.

Thank you very much.

——————————————

SYNTHESIS:

While in Cochabamba the talk is of Plurinationalism with States that have even a majority of what is considered Indigenous Peoples belonging to many different Nations, the UN which talks of Member Nations counted by the number of seat made available for UN Membership, regards all those Indigenous Peoples as minorities within the boundaries of the UN Member States. This leads the UN to talk of human rights rather then the community right as represented by the Indigenous Peoples.

Above may have changed somewhat with the acceptance of the the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples but still – the UN Secretary General addresses their leaders by the traditional term “Elders” as he cannot call them Heads of States – at the UN they are neither States nor Nations. Their affairs are basically internal Affairs of the Member States – with the covers having been removed a bit by the declaration. Then the UN has changed the name of the Committee on Granting Independence to Colonial Countries – to “Colonial countries and Peoples” – the subject of “Peoples” slowly gaining ground even at the UN. We will be covering some of the specifics of this year’s Indigenous Peoples UN Forum in further postings.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Elephants or Ivory — Amazing response!

The worldwide UN ban on ivory trading could soon be lifted — a decision that could wipe out Africa’s vulnerable elephants. But a number of a African nations are pushing to uphold the ban. Let’s send them a stampede of support to save the elephants. Sign the skyrocketing petition below, and forward this email widely:

Wow — the petition to protect endangered elephants from ivory poachers is exploding — in just over 72 hours, more than 300,000 of us have signed the call to the UN to uphold the ban on ivory trading and save whole populations of these magnificent animals. The crucial UN vote is expected this week.

Tanzania and Zambia are lobbying the UN for special exemptions from the ban, but this would send a clear signal to the ivory crime syndicates that international protection is weakening and it’s open-season on elephants. Another group of African states have countered by calling to extend the trade ban for 20 years.

Our best chance to save the continent’s remaining elephants is to support African conservationists. We only have days left and the UN Endangered Species body only meets every 3 years. Click below to sign our urgent petition to protect elephants, and forward this email widely — the petition will be delivered to the UN meeting in Doha:
 www.avaaz.org/en/protect_the_elep…

Over 20 years ago, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) passed a worldwide ban on ivory trading. Poaching fell, and ivory prices slumped. But poor enforcement coupled with ‘experimental one-off sales’, like the one Tanzania and Zambia are seeking, drove poaching up and turned illegal trade into a lucrative business — poachers can launder their illegal ivory with the legal stockpiles.

Now, despite the worldwide ban, each year over 30,000 elephants are gunned down and their tusks hacked off by poachers with axes and chainsaws. If Tanzania and Zambia are successful in exploiting the loophole, this awful trade could get much worse.

We have a one-off chance this week to extend the worldwide ban and repress poaching and trade prices before we lose even more elephant populations — sign the petition now and then forward it widely:
 www.avaaz.org/en/protect_the_elep…

Across the world’s cultures and throughout our history elephants have been revered in religions and have captured our imagination — Babar, Dumbo, Ganesh, Airavata, Erawan. But today these beautiful and highly intelligent creatures are being annihilated.

As long as there is demand for ivory, elephants are at risk from poaching and smuggling — but this week we have a chance to protect them and crush the ivory criminals’ profits — sign the petition now:
 www.avaaz.org/en/protect_the_elep…

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Our idea – if Tanzania and Zambia get their way it would be right to start a campaign to boycott tourism to these countries.      Did anyone think that Canada and Japan might also be helped to changing behavior by similar means when traditional killing of seals and whales is what they do? The US has said that it will prosecute and penalize a sushi restaurant that served whale-meat, so invoking penalties might work. If nothing else it will make us feel good for having reacted to someone’s lack of honesty.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 15th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Inuit sue EU over seal ban.
LEIGH PHILLIP, January 15, 2010.

Today @ 07:53 CET
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Canadian and Greenlandic Inuit groups are suing the European Union over its ban on seal products, and are very confident they will win.

Canada’s Tapiriit Kanatami, the country’s national Inuit organisation, the Inuit Circumpolar council and a number of Inuit individuals filed the lawsuit with the European General Court, until this year known as the Court of First Instance, on Wednesday.

In 2009, the EU banned the import of seal products. The legislation was one of the most non-partisan bills to pass through the European Parliament. Believing the issue to be massively popular amongst EU citizens ahead of elections to the chamber in June, some 550 deputies voted in favour of the ban, with just 49 opposed.

The groups will aim to prove that the seal hunt is, contrary to the European legislation’s justification, humane. The suit will also maintain that the hunt is environmentally sustainable and that seals are not endangered.

Calling the EU ban the product of a “shrill campaign” by animal rights “extremists”, Mary Simon, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, said: “Inuit have been hunting seals and sustaining themselves for food, clothing, and trade for many generations.”

“No objective and fair minded person can conclude that seals are under genuine conservation threat or that Inuit hunting activities are less humane than those practiced by hunting communities all over the world, including hunters in Europe.”

The EU ban includes an exemption for aboriginal hunts, but the Inuit argue that this makes little difference as the ban results in a collapse of their biggest market. Canada currently is trying to develop a Chinese market for seal products in the wake of the ban.

Ms Simon said the ban was hypocritical, given the industrialisation of European farming in recent decades and the effect that has had on food animal living and slaughterhouse conditions.

“It is bitterly ironic that the EU, which seems entirely at home with promoting massive levels of agri-business and the raising and slaughtering of animals in highly industrialized conditions, seeks to preach some kind of selective elevated morality to Inuit.”

The groups are highly confident they will win the suit, suggesting that European legal experts warned against adopting the legislation.

“Despite advance warning by their own lawyers, its EU lawmakers registered no inhibitions about adopting laws that are legally defective,” said Ms Simon.

The Canadian government is also currently challenging the EU seal products trade ban at the World Trade Organisation.

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