the second Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24–27, 2012, in Anchorage and Girdwood, Alaska – SOME SEE THE CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE ARCTIC AS A CHALLENGE OF OPPORTUNITIES – THE REALISTS VERSUS OUR COMMON CRY – THIS IS A FOUL GAME!
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.
The Guardian, Wednesday 11 April 2012
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.
Plurinational Mother Earth – Pachamama – in Cochabamba is competing this year with the Indigenous Peoples Forum held at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, that opened the same day – April 19, 2010. Easy to see – natural resources play an important role in both meetings.
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.
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.
I attach great importance to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted in September 2007.
I congratulate you once again on this achievement.
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.
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.
Indigenous cultures, languages and ways of life are under constant threat from climate change, armed conflict, lack of educational opportunities and discrimination.
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.
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.
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.
Paul Hilder – Avaaz.org – informs us of the success in getting people to answer the call to the UN to be serious about saving elephants. There should not be any exceptions for Tanzania and Zambia. We want to add that Canada should not get exceptions for seals, neither Japan for whales. In short – the UN should not cave in to anyone when the issue is the conservation of world heritage.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
Does it come down to this – protection of wild species vs. business of the Circumpolar Inuits? Canadian and Greenland Inuits sue the EU over the seal-fur market. Canada went to WTO court to claim interference with trade like they did years ago in regard to lead in unleaded gasoline. At that time they actually won – will they win again this time behind historic rights for an Indigenous People?
Inuit sue EU over seal ban.
Today @ 07:53 CET
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.
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.”
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.”
“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.