links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter


 
Greenland:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from:  Charles Ebinger, Brookings Institution FPEnergySecurity@brookings.edu

New Report: Oil and Gas in the Changing Arctic Region

Dear Colleagues:

The Arctic is changing. A shrinking polar icecap—now 40 percent smaller than it was in 1979—has opened not only new shipping routes, but access to 13 percent and 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas, respectively.

Today, the region’s vast energy, mineral and marine resources draw substantial international and commercial interest.

What can the U.S. do to strengthen the Arctic offshore oil and gas governance regime as it takes over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015?

In a new report, Offshore Oil and Gas Governance in the Arctic: A Leadership Role for the U.S., authors Charles K. Ebinger, John P. Banks, and Alisa Schackmann review the current framework regarding offshore Arctic energy exploration, and recommend efforts the U.S. should take to assert leadership in the region, such as:

  • Establish oil spill prevention and response as a guiding theme for its Arctic Council chairmanship;
  • Appoint a U.S. Arctic ambassador;
  • Accelerate development of Alaska-specific oil and gas standards; and
  • Strengthen bilateral arrangements with Russia and Canada.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Establish oil spill prevention, control, and response as the overarching theme for U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015-2017.
  • Create the diplomatic post of “Arctic Ambassador.”
  • Establish a Regional Bureau for Polar Affairs in the U.S. Department of State.
  • Accelerate the ongoing development of Alaska-specific offshore oil and gas standards and discuss their applicability in bilateral and multilateral forums for the broader Arctic region.
  • Strengthen bilateral regulatory arrangements for the Chukchi Sea with Russia, and the Beaufort Sea with Canada.
  • Support the industry-led establishment of an Arctic-specific resource sharing organization for oil spill response and safety.
  • Support and prioritize the strengthening of the Arctic Council through enhanced thematic coordination of offshore oil and gas issues.
  • Support the establishment of a circumpolar Arctic Regulators Association for Oil and Gas.

 

To learn more, watch this video and read the new policy brief from the Brookings Energy Security Initiative:

www.brookings.edu/ArcticEnergy

 

“I congratulate you and your collaborators on the report and
on the Energy Security Initiative. The active interest and involvement of Brookings in Arctic affairs is, and will be,
of enormous importance for the future development of the region.”

—H.E. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland (written to Dr. Charles Ebinger)


We hope you will find this new report an informative primer on Arctic governance and a dependable reference in discussing Arctic affairs. We encourage your feedback by emailing ESI Project Coordinator Colleen Lowry at clowry@brookings.edu.

Warm regards,

Charles K. Ebinger
Director, Energy Security Initiative at Brookings

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

   Josef Friedhuber/Getty Images

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 31st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Activists Feel Powerful Wrath as Russia Guards Its Arctic Claims.

Dmitri Sharomov/Greenpeace, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Alexandra Harris, one of 30 people from a Greenpeace ship who are being detained by Russia.

MOSCOW — Gizem Akhan, 24, was about to begin her final year studying the culinary arts at Yeditepe University in Istanbul. Tomasz Dziemianczuk, 36, took a vacation from his job as a cultural adviser at the University of Gdansk in Poland that has now unexpectedly turned into an unpaid leave of absence.

Related:  Lens Blog: In Russia, Conflating Journalism and ‘Hooliganism’ (October 30, 2013)

——————————————————————–

   Ozan Kose/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Greenpeace activists with photos of a detained colleague, Gizem Akhan, outside the Russian Consulate in Istanbul.

Alex Von Kleydorff/The Hour Newspapers, via Associated Press

Maggy Willcox’s husband, Peter, a Greenpeace captain, is a prisoner.

Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

Alina Giganova, whose husband, Denis Sinyakov, is being held.

——————————————————————

Dmitri Litvinov, 51, is a veteran activist who as a child spent four years in Siberian exile after his father, Pavel, took part in the Red Square protest against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

“I didn’t expect my son to get in their clutch,” the elder Mr. Litvinov said in a telephone interview from Irvington, N.Y., where he settled to teach physics in nearby Tarrytown after being expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974.

Dmitri Litvinov and the others are just three of the 30 people aboard a Greenpeace International ship, the Arctic Sunrise, who are now confined in separate cells in the far northern city of Murmansk after staging a high-seas protest last month against oil exploration in the Arctic. All face criminal charges that could result in years in prison as a result of having grossly underestimated Russia’s readiness to assert — and even expand — its sovereignty in a region potentially rich with natural resources.

The vigorous legal response by the authorities, including the seizure of the ship itself, appears to have caught Greenpeace off guard and left the crew’s families and friends worried that the consequences of what the activists considered a peaceful protest could prove much graver than any expected when they set out.

“Naturally, every time Gizem sets out on a protest I feel anxious,” Ms. Akhan’s mother, Tulay, said in written responses delivered through Greenpeace. “I’m a mother, and most of the time she doesn’t even tell us she is participating. I’ve known the risks but couldn’t have foreseen that we would come face to face with such injustice.”

Critics of the government of President Vladimir V. Putin have added the crew of the Arctic Sunrise to a catalog of prisoners here who have faced politically motivated or disproportionate punishment for challenging the state. Among them are the former oil tycoon Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, the punk performers of Pussy Riot and the protesters awaiting trial more than a year after violence broke out on the day of Mr. Putin’s inauguration last year.

But there is one crucial difference: Most of those who were aboard the Arctic Sunrise are foreigners.

They hail from 18 nations. Two of them, Denis Sinyakov of Russia and Kieron Bryan of Britain, are freelance journalists who joined the crew to chronicle the ship’s voyage, which began in Amsterdam and ended on Sept. 19 when Russian border guards borne by helicopters descended on the ship in the Pechora Sea.

Alexandra Harris of Britain, 27, was on her first trip to the Arctic. Camila Speziale, 21, of Argentina, was on her first trip at sea. Others were veteran Greenpeace activists, including the American captain, Peter Willcox, who was skipper of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985 when French secret service agents bombed it at dockside in Auckland, New Zealand, leading to the drowning of a photographer, Fernando Pereira.

The activists knew the protest was risky. Two of them, Sini Saarela of Finland and Marco Weber of Switzerland, tried to scale the offshore oil platform in the Pechora Sea owned by Russia’s state energy giant, Gazprom.

They plunged into the icy waters after guards sprayed water from fire hoses and fired warning shots, and they were plucked from the sea by a Russian coast guard ship and held as “guests.”  The next day, Sept. 19, however, the Arctic Sunrise was seized by border guards in international waters.

Greenpeace staged a similar but more successful protest in the summer of 2012. In that instance, activists, including Greenpeace’s executive director, Kumi Naidoo, scaled the same platform and unfurled a banner. After several hours, they departed, and the Russian authorities did not pursue any charges.

The authorities have shown little sign of leniency since the ship’s seizure, despite an international campaign by Greenpeace to draw attention to the prosecutions and even an appeal from Italy’s oil giant Eni, a partner of Gazprom, to show clemency for the crew, which includes an Italian, Cristian D’Alessandro.

The prosecution of the Arctic Sunrise crew has punctuated Mr. Putin’s warnings that he would not tolerate any infringement on Russia’s development in the Arctic. The region has become a focus of political and economic strategy for the Kremlin as its natural resources have become more accessible because of the warming climate.

When the government of the Netherlands, where Greenpeace International is based, filed an appeal to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to have the ship and crew released, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it would not recognize the tribunal’s jurisdiction, citing the country’s sovereignty. The tribunal has scheduled a hearing on the Dutch claim anyway, but unless Russia seeks a compromise that would free the prisoners, the crew could be detained for months awaiting trial.

Greenpeace’s activists and their cause have not found much sympathy in Russia, their fate shaped in part by hostile coverage on state-owned or state-controlled television. The main state network, Channel One, recently broadcast an analysis that suggested that Greenpeace’s protest had been orchestrated by powerful backers with economic incentives to undermine Gazprom.

After their formal arrest on Sept. 24, the crew members appeared one by one in court and were charged with piracy and ordered held at least until Nov. 24. One by one their appeals for bail were denied. Last week, the regional investigative committee reduced the charges to hooliganism, a crime that nonetheless carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison.

The committee raised the possibility of new charges against some crew members that could result in longer sentences upon conviction.

According to Greenpeace and relatives, the prisoners have not been mistreated in the detention center where they are now held, next to Murmansk’s morgue. They have had access to lawyers and diplomats from their respective countries. They are allowed care packages delivered by Greenpeace, occasional phone calls and sporadic visits from those relatives who can make it to Murmansk. The captain and chief engineer were taken to visit and inspect the Arctic Sunrise, now moored in Murmansk’s port.

Conditions, though, are grim.

In letters or phone calls to their families, they have described small, unheated cells, unappetizing meals and Russian cellmates who smoke relentlessly. They spend 23 hours a day in their cells, with only an hour of exercise a day in an enclosed courtyard and the periodic visits with lawyers or trips to court for a hearing. “It’s very cold now,” Ms. Harris, the activist from Britain on her first Greenpeace operation in the Arctic, wrote in a letter to her parents and brother that was widely cited in the British press: “It snowed last night. The blizzard blew my very poorly insulated window open and I had to sleep wearing my hat.”

She went on to express a measure of resolve, saying she practiced yoga in her cell and tapped on the wall to the music piped in, but she also wrote of uncertainty in a confinement that she compared to slowly dying.

“I heard that from December Murmansk is dark for six weeks,” she wrote. “God, I hope I’m out by then.”

Reporting was contributed by Andrew Roth and Patrick Reevell from Moscow, Ceylan Yeginsu from Istanbul, and Joanna Berendt from Warsaw.

————————————————————————

Also:

Russia Denies Reports It Spied on Group of 20 Officials.

By JIM YARDLEY – same issue of the New York Times.

It rejected an Italian newspaper’s report that Russian spy agencies distributed special USB thumb drives to eavesdrop on participants at last month’s meeting in St. Petersburg.

www.nytimes.com/2013/10/31/world/europe/russia-denies-report-it-spied-on-g-20-officials.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20131031

“We don’t know the sources of the information,” said Dmitri S. Peskov, the spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, according to RIA Novosti, the state news agency. “However, this is undoubtedly nothing but an attempt to shift the focus from issues that truly exist in relations between European capitals and Washington to unsubstantiated, nonexistent issues.”

European leaders have been outraged by reports that the National Security Agency spied on allies in Europe, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. The American spying operation has created a diplomatic crisis for the Obama administration, stirring fury in France, Spain and Germany, while intensifying criticism in Washington about the scope and methods of American espionage.

On Wednesday, the focus shifted to Russia, as Corriere della Sera, a leading Italian newspaper, published allegations that the Group of 20 meeting was the scene of a major effort in Russian espionage. According to the paper, Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, had a debriefing with security officials after returning from St. Petersburg. The report was swiftly picked up by news agencies and newspapers in other countries.

The security team then conducted an examination of the thumb drives, which the Russians distributed as gifts to the 300 foreign delegates, who also received stuffed teddy bears, cups, diaries and cables to connect smartphones with computers, the Italian paper reported. Later, the European Council’s security office sent a report to Group of 20 participants, warning that some of the USB drives, as well as the cables, appeared to have been tampered with, Corriere della Sera said.

The European officials then handed the devices to German intelligence services, which conducted more tests and concluded that the sabotaged electronic equipment could be used to intercept data from computers and mobile phones. Corriere della Sera also reported that Italian secret service agents were still examining some of the devices distributed to Italy’s delegation.

In Brussels, a media official in Mr. Rompuy’s office declined to comment on Wednesday. “There are always measures in place to protect the infrastructure of the council and, as a rule, there is a cooperation with member states,” said the official, Nicolas Kerleroux. “But we won’t comment on any specific matter.”

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 20th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

This week – Iceland’s leader, President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, talks about Climate Change – First in Reykjavik and thenn in Senator Harkins’ Des Moines, Iowa

Sorry to say – we found no internet postings yet of content from the Reykjavik meeting but interesting material comes out from DesMoines.  Mainly by  Joel Aschbrenner of the DesMoines Register.
October 16, 2013
The Bacon Board meets the president of Iceland
The Bacon Board meets the president of Iceland: Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival organizers met with President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson during his visit to Des Moines

Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson envisions a day when his island nation will be a net exporter of tomatoes.

Making the inaugural address at Drake University’s Harkin Institute, Grímsson made a case for combating climate change with clean energy. His country now gets more than 85 percent of its power from renewable sources, like geothermal energy used to heat homes, drive power plants and even warm the greenhouses’ tomatoes.

“You could do the same thing in Alaska,” Grímsson joked. “And you could sell those Alaskan tomatoes at Whole Foods. It’s a great marketing idea.”

Produce aside, Grímsson focused on the importance of slowing the melt of glaciers around the globe. Melting glaciers are poised to raise sea levels, shift global weather patterns and alter rivers that provide water for crops that feed nearly a third of the world’s population, scientists say.

The challenge, Grímmson said, is erasing the perception that climate change affects only those who live near glaciers or ice caps, in places like Iceland.

“We live in an ice-dependent world,” he said. “In every country in every continent, our weather, our climate, our cities are dependent in way or another on what happens to the ice.”

Grimsson and Sen. Tom Harkin have been friends for decades. Harkin spoke last week at the inaugural Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city.

The event drew participants from dozens of countries to discuss climate change, economic development and shipping lanes in the Arctic.

In the 1980s, the two worked together in Moscow with Parliamentarians for Global Action, an international network of legislators, to advocate for nuclear treaties.

Iceland, a country with fewer residents than the Des Moines area, has positioned itself as a leader in green energy. The nation is working with giants China and India, helping them develop strategies for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions.

The addition of China, which has long been lamented as a major polluter, to the conversation about climate change represents a crossroads in global policy, Grímsson said.

“China has been used as an excuse for non-action,” the president said. “But now we are witness to what I believe is an undeniable shift.”

 

 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 19th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The following I learned, Thursday October 10, 2013, coincidentally at a breakfast meeting of the new series at he Green Tech Investors Forum run by Dr. Gelvin Stevenson and hosted by the New York Offices of the International law Firm Crowell &  Moring.

I said coincidentally because that day I was traveling to Reykjavik, Iceland, for the First International Conference of the Arctic Circle Nations, October 11-14, 2013. This Conference, as it turned out, was mainly concerned in the creation of wealth in the old way, but viewing  now on how it will be possible to using the access to the newly un-covered-of-ice waters and lands of the Arctic.

There could not have been a more contrasting set of visions then those exposed at the Manhattan event and the general spirit that drove the organizers of the Harpa Conference Center at the Reykjavik event. These two events will bring me back to post about pure SUSTAINABILITY after having lately been focused rather on the melt-down of the United States that to me was a much more frightening perspective then the climate change induced melting of the ice-caps at the three poles.

In the present posting I will be dealing with concepts put forward by Mr. Jigar Shah, the Star speaker at the Manhattan event. This will  follow  material from the other presenters before the Green Tech Investors Forum. Then, in following postings, I will be dealing with specifics from the Reykjavik meeting, and I foresee a series of postings about what can create Sustainable Wealth and what can be seen rather as a throw-back to past mistakes.

DSCI0056

——————————————————————————-

we already posted:

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 10th, 2013

- See more at: www.sustainabilitank.info/2013/04…

 

and the full program of the Conference/meeting as provided several days before the event and which we posted October 10th so I could provide the link to the people present at the Manhattan event:

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 10th, 2013

- See more at: www.sustainabilitank.info/2013/10…

——————————————————————————–

The Manhattan meeting was about a new company that has new proprietary technology or billing purpose – “Simply Grid” – it provides a solution for on-demand access to electricity.

The company’s proprietary technology includes a custom engineered controller which is deployed either within industry standard electric charging stations or as an augmentation to standard in-wall electrical outlets, and an Internet based management and billing system which allows for the automated initiation/termination of electric service via mobile app or text message, monitoring of usage, and billing. 

Simply Grid focuses on three markets: the mobile food industry, marinas and RV parks, and personal electronics in cafes and other public spaces.

 There are over 25,000 food carts and food trucks in the US, and they are expanding rapidly. Their legacy source of energy, gas or diesel powered generators, is expensive, polluting and noisy. Simply Grid’s solution – usually a four-foot high pedestal – enables private lot managers and municipalities to provide electricity to these vendors at a significant cost savings while providing a more pleasant environment for their customers.

 

 Simply Grid has a pilot in Union Square, midtown Manhattan, – with a food-cart vendor – Rafiqi’s – on the north side of the Square – in conjunction with the Mayor’s Office, ConEd, and NYC Department of Transportation. Additionally, the company has already deployments at food truck parks in Austin, TX and Atlanta, GA.

 

 Food carts’ portable generators—used by about 60% of all food carts—emit twenty times more particulate matter and other asthma-causing pollutants than NYC’s electric supply.

Simply Grid’s technology allows lot owners and municipalities to provide grid electricity to them, which makes them cleaner, quieter, and more profitable.

Electricity is made available to these vendors via outlets in industry standard electricity pedestals which have been customized with proprietary metering controllers. The controllers connect wireless to Simply Grid’s cloud-based platform which manages customer accounts, metering, and billing.

The system allows vendors  on city streets and RV lots to initiate service with their mobile phones and connect to the electric grid with cables they already use with their generators.The food vendors will be able to sell electricity to electric vehicles – cars, bikes etc. This will help clean up the air in cities by making it more feasible to use electric vehicles. Obviously, the electricity supply is a separate topic – but the decreased dependence on diesel and gasoline is clear. In this respect it is a company that does not only owe its success to efforts to decrease effects that cause global warming i.e. the use of petroleum products, but it also provides new lines of income to vendors of other services, and economically thus creates “CLIMATE WEALTH.”

The speakers at the meeting were SIMPLY GRID officials -Mike Dubrovsky; CEO, Jeffrey Hoffman,  COO;  Samuel Abbay, Co-Founder and Co-CEO. Present, and separate speaker, was partner and initiator of the “CREATING CLIMATE WEALTH” concept Jigar Shah who made already a lot of money when he created “SunEdison” – now a very successful company with billions in sales, and which he sold so he can go on creating new ideas and companies.

Creating Climate Wealth guru, Jigar Shah, is the real focus of this posting, and his just released manual – the book that is part autobiography and part blue-print for the future is:

“CREATING CLIMATE WEALTH: UNLOCKING THE IMPACT ECONOMY” caries ISBN: 978-0-9893531-0-6 – ICOSA publishing - www.icosamedia.com/publishing. It costs $21.95 and is a true manual.

Further information at www.creatingClimateWealth.com

—————————————————————–

Carl Pope, the former Executive Director of Sierra Club, writes among those that recommend this book – “Shah shows that a new massive wealth opportunity is at our fingertips, linking sustainability and economic development.”

We completely subscribe to this and must remark that Jigar Shah was able to show that the innovative management ideas that he promotes are not dependent on new technologies but rather on the imagination that frees us to use beneficially existing technologies in novel ways – this without government subsidies and rather in a pure private enterprise way. Obviously, this can be made possible only if government does not insist in interfering by supporting existing interests opposed to change.

“Creating Climate Wealth” introduces the general idea that natural resources fail us if we do not start a development with the concept that we want to answer a need, rather then pushing the sale of an exhaustible stash of resources – i.e. found fossil fuels or minerals.

Following that, we get the example of the creation of the SunEdison Company that came about to answer the need for cheap locally produced electricity, and eventually leads to the creation of the new company, the subjet of the October 10th meeting – “SimplyGrid” – that will eventually sell Renewable Energy via a smart grid. All this to be done by private investors that all what they need is non-interference from the government.

The important thing is that Jigar Shah is an entrepreneur who grew up in a home where his parents were already steeped in the spirit of entrepreneurship. JIGAR IS OUT TO MAKE MONEY IN A CLEVER WAY – AS SAID BY INNOVATING MANAGEMENT SO HE ANSWERS A TRUE NEED EFFICIENTLY AND AT LOWER COSTS THEN THE COMPETITION. Further, he structures his business plan so that all what he needs is a good client and he does not involve the client in his building the company.

SunEdison takes advantage of the vast roof space of large companies and puts there photovoltaics built with -off-the-shelf parts.
No waiting here for improvements that might take years, and no talk here of experimentation.

The client does not invest a penny – only agrees to buy the electricity at a price well below what it costs him today. Jigar finds the investors outside the product buying company and totally without government help except that he must make sure that existing electricity production companies do not cause the government to grant them a monopoly that would not allow this upstart to sell electricity. This is not a theoretical comment – it is rather a description of the sick US economy.

To get the details of this innovative way of doing business. and to realize the deep thoughts that went into Jigar’s choice of companies which he approached first, and the financial backers which he approached so that this will be a growing company with ever increasing revenues and financing, rather then a one time shot by a wise guy – please go to the sources which I presented here.

I read the book on the plane ride to Reykjavik, so it helped me be a little more critical of what I heard there.

 

 

 

###

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.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from Richard J.T. Klein <richard.klein@sei.se>
date Sun, Aug 1, 2010
subject Deadline for abstracts extended to 10 August: ‘Climate Adaptation in the Nordic Countries’


Due to technical problems with the abstract submission system we have extended the deadline for submitting abstracts to Tuesday 10 August.
Abstracts can be submitted online at nordicadaptation2010.net/

Abstracts are invited on all issues relevant to climate adaptation in the Nordic countries, including (but not limited to) the following:

- Theory and methods for adaptation research
- Scenario-based impact studies
- Vulnerability assessment and vulnerability indicators
- Adaptation as a social process (including cultural factors, values, institutions)
- Climate information, climate services
- Adaptation planning and decision tools
- Adaptation policy development
- The economics of adaptation
- Adaptation in urban regions
- Adaptation in rural areas
- Adaptation and natural resources (forests, agriculture, water, marine environment)
- Adaptation in the tourist sector
- Adaptation and human health
- Insurance, finance and adaptation
- The role of non-state actors in adaptation (civil society, private sector)
- Gender perspectives on adaptation
- Nordic adaptation within an EU and global context
- Links between adaptation and mitigation

We also welcome your suggestions for parallel sessions, especially those that bring together knowledge from multiple locations and research projects. Session proposals should include a description of the session (topic, motivation, format). Please send your session proposal, together with abstracts for each suggested presentation, by email to nordicadaptation.content@sei.se no later than 10 August. All parallel sessions will be 90 minutes long.

As communicated earlier, the international conference ”Climate Adaptation in the Nordic Countries: Science, Practice, Policy’ will take place in Stockholm on 8–10 November 2010. Please note that we are unable to provide financial support to participants. Any requests to this effect will be ignored.

Should you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us at nordicadaptation.content@sei.se.

Richard Klein


Professor Richard J.T. Klein
Stockholm Environment Institute
Kräftriket 2B
10691 Stockholm, Sweden
web.me.com/rjtklein/

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

WORLD NEWS – JULY 29, 2010
 online.wsj.com/article/SB40001424…

Climate report shows Earth has heated up over 50 years.

Which in the printed Wall Street version was rechristened – “CLIMATE STUDY CITES 2000 as WARMEST DECADE.” This appropriate to the US inward look of New York, while the above title is clear better positioned for the world at large -

By GAUTAM NAIK

A new assessment concludes that the Earth has been getting warmer over the past 50 years and the past decade was the warmest on record.

The State of the Climate 2009 report, published Wednesday as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, was compiled by 300 scientists from 48 countries and drew on measures of 10 crucial climate indicators.

Seven of the indicators were rising, including air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, sea level, ocean heat and humidity. Three indicators were declining, including Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere.

“Each indicator is changing as we’d expect in a warming world,” said Peter Thorne, senior researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, a research consortium based in College Park, Md., who was involved in compiling the report.

The report’s conclusions broadly match those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body, which published its last set of findings in 2007. The IPCC report contained some errors, which further stoked the debate about the existence, causes and effects of global warming.

The new report incorporates data from the past few years that weren’t included in the last IPCC assessment. While the IPCC report concluded that evidence for human-caused global warming was “unequivocal” and was linked to emissions of greenhouse gases, the latest report didn’t seek to address the issue.

The report “doesn’t try to make the link” between climate change and what might be causing it, said Tom Karl, an official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration involved in the new assessment.

The report said, “Global average surface and lower-troposphere temperatures during the last three decades have been progressively warmer than all earlier decades, and the 2000s (2000-09) was the warmest decade in the instrumental record.” The troposphere is the lowest layer of the atmosphere.

The scientists reported that they were surprised to find Greenland’s glaciers were losing ice at an accelerating rate. They also concluded that 90% of planetary warming over the past 50 years has gone into the oceans. Most of it had accumulated in near-surface layers, home to phytoplankton, tiny plants crucial to virtually all life in the sea.

A new study has found that rising sea temperature may have had a harmful effect on global concentrations of phytoplankton over the past century.

—————————–

BUT THE WALL STREET JOURNAL IS VERY ANEMIC ON CONTENT OF ABOVE NEWS – IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT REALLY HAPPENED, AS MOSTLY ALMOST – GO TO THE FINANCIAL TIMES. HERE YOU FIND FIONA HARVEY’S FULL ARTICLE – SHE  CONTRIBUTES TO THE EDITORIAL SECTION AS WELL. YOU WILL BE IN THE CLEAR ABOUT THE MACHINATIONS IN WASHINGTON AS WELL.

You will also see there the Washington rot as in the following: Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the US, formerly in charge of energy with the powerful CSIS, said the new report would not change people’s minds. “It’s clear that the scientific case for global warming alarmism is weak. The scientific case for [many of the claims] is unsound and we are finding out all the time how unsound it is.”

You will find that there was no doubt about the implication that it is humans who did it except in the words of that outspoken minority of industry lobbyists that hold power over Washington.

————————–
 blogs.ft.com/energy-source/author…

NOAA finds “human fingerprints” on climate

July 28th, 2010  by Fiona Harvey

A report from the NOAA in the US has found that data from ten key climate indicators all point to the same finding: the scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable.

It is the first major piece of new research since the “Climategate” scandals.

It found that, relying on data from multiple sources, each indicator proved consistent with a warming world. Seven indicators are rising: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, ocean heat, humidity, and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface. Three indicators are declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere.

Read the full report here:

www.ncdc.noaa.gov/bams-state-of-the-climate.

 www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6d1fd25c-9a69-…

Research says climate change undeniable

By Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent

Published: July 28 2010 – print and on-line.

International scientists have injected fresh evidence into the debate over global warming, saying that climate change is “undeniable” and shows clear signs of “human fingerprints” in the first major piece of research since the “Climategate” controversy.

The research, headed by the US National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration, is based on new data not available for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report of 2007, the target of attacks by sceptics in recent years.

The NOAA study drew on up to 11 different indicators of climate, and found that each one pointed to a world that was warming owing to the influence of greenhouse gases, said Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring at the UK’s Met Office, one of the agencies participating.

Seven indicators were rising, he said. These were: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, ocean heat, humidity, and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface. Four indicators were declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers, spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere, and stratospheric temperatures.

Mr Stott said: “The whole of the climate system is acting in a way consistent with the effects of greenhouse gases.” “The fingerprints are clear,” he said. “The glaringly obvious explanation for this is warming from greenhouse gases.”

Environment ThumbnailSome scientists hailed the study as a refutation of the claims made by climate sceptics during the “Climategate” saga. Those scandals involved accusations – some since proven correct – of flaws in the IPCC’s landmark 2007 report, and the release of hundreds of emails from climate scientists that appeared to show them distorting certain data.

“This confirms that while all of this [Climategate] was going on, the earth was continuing to warm. It shows that Climategate was a distraction, because it took the focus off what the science actually says,” said Bob Ward, policy director of the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics.

But the report nonetheless remained the target of scorn for sceptics.

Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the US, said the new report would not change people’s minds. “It’s clear that the scientific case for global warming alarmism is weak. The scientific case for [many of the claims] is unsound and we are finding out all the time how unsound it is.”

Pat Michaels, a prominent climate sceptic, ex-professor of environmental sciences and fellow of the Cato Institute in the US, said the NOAA study and other evidence suggested that the computerised climate models had overestimated the sensitivity of the earth’s temperature to carbon dioxide. This would mean that the earth could warm a little under the influence of greenhouse gases, but not by as much as the IPCC and others have predicted.

“I think it is the lack of frankness about this that emerged with Climategate, and that seems to continue [that make people doubt the findings],” he said.

Steve Goddard, a blogger, said the conclusion that the first half of 2010 showed a record high temperature was “based on incorrect, fabricated data” because the researchers involved did not have access to much information on Arctic temperatures.

David Herro, the financier, who follows climate science as a hobby, said NOAA also “lacks credibility”.

But Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of NOAA, said the study found that the average temperature in the world had increased by 0.56° C (1° F) over the past 50 years. The rise “may seem small, but it has already altered our planet … Glaciers and sea ice are melting, heavy rainfall is intensifying, and heat waves are more common.”

——————————————————-
 planetark.org/wen/58965

Developing Nations See Cancun Climate Deal Tough.

Date: 29-Jul-10
Country: MEXICO
Author: Brian Ellsworth

Reaching a binding climate deal at the upcoming U.N. conference in Mexico will likely be difficult, delegates from a group of developing nations said on Monday, spurring further doubts about a global climate accord this year.

Environment ministers from Brazil, South Africa, India and China — known as the BASIC group — meeting in Rio de Janeiro said developed nations have not done enough to cut their own emissions or help poor countries reduce theirs.

Delays by the United States and Australia in implementing schemes to cut carbon emissions has added to gloomy sentiment about possible results from the Cancun meeting.

“If by the time we get to Cancun (U.S. senators) still have not completed the legislation then clearly we will get less than a legally binding outcome,” said Buyelwa Sonjica, South Africa’s Water and Environment Affairs minister.

“For us that is a concern, and we’re very realistic about the fact that we may not” complete a legally binding accord, she said.

BASIC nations held deliberations on Sunday and Monday about upcoming climate talks, but the representatives said those talks did not yield a specific proposal on emissions reductions to be presented at the Cancun meeting.

“I think we’re all a bit wiser after Copenhagen, our expectations for Cancun are realistic — we cannot expect any miracles,” said Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

He added that countries have failed to make good on promises for $30 billion in “fast track” financing for emissions reduction programs in poor countries.

“The single most important reason why it is going to be difficult is the inability of the developed countries to bring clarity on the financial commitments which they have undertaken in the Copenhagen Accord,” he said.

Hopes for a global treaty on cutting carbon emissions to slow global warming were dealt a heavy blow last year when rich and poor nations were unable to agree on a legally binding mechanism to reduce global carbon emissions.

More than 100 countries backed a nonbinding accord agreed in Copenhagen last year to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, but it did not spell out how this should be achieved.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday postponed an effort to pass broad legislation to combat climate change until September at the earliest, vastly reducing the possibility of such legislation being ready before the Cancun conference begins in December.

Australia has delayed a carbon emissions trading scheme until 2012 under heavy political pressure on from industries that rely heavily on coal for their energy.

The U.N.’s climate agency has detailed contingency options if the world cannot agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, whose present round expires in 2012 with no new deal in sight. {But the article does not spell them out and we wonder if they are any different from what we suggested – moving the deliberations away from the UNFCCC – to a much smaller group of Nations modeled along the lines on the evolving G20 with a united EU and a representation of AOSIS/SIDS and Highest suffering countries like Bangladesh on-board,}

Kyoto placed carbon emissions caps on nearly 40 developed countries from 2008-2012. {But Left out any responsibilities for the remaining countries including the above BRICS. Copenhagen was a success in the sense that it made it clear that the BRICS must be part of any agreement if it is going to happen – so, in this trspect, at Copenhagen there was progress – the first time since the beginning of the negotiations within UNFCCC.}

———————

The comments in green are those made by us – the editor of www.SustainabiliTank.info
WE ARE OPTIMISTS NEVERTHELESS AND WE HOPE THAT WITH THE UN-BASED SMILES FROM THE UN HEADQUARTERS IN NEW YORK, OUT OF THE WAY, A MORE ATUNNED  CHRISTIANA FIGUERES WILL INDEED COME UP WITH A MORE MANAGEABLE DEBATE.

From the Wikipedia: Karen Christiana Figueres Olsen (born August 7, 1956) was appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 17 May 2010, succeeding Yvo de Boer[1] [2]. She had been a member of the Costa Rican negotiating team since 1995, involved in both UNFCCC[3] and Kyoto Protocol[4] negotiations. She has contributed to the design of key climate change instruments.[5] She is a prime promoter of Latin America’s active participation in the Convention,[6] a frequent public speaker,[7] and a widely published author.[8] She won the Hero for the Planet award in 2001.[9]

For Latin America, in the BASIC group, speaks Brazil which has created for itself the image of an oil-rich country. This might create further difficulties for Ms. Figueres and we do not yet say that Brazil steaked out a final position for Cancun. In effect, the October 3, 2010 elections will have brought to the fore-front a new President for Brazil and we are yet to see his or her position.


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 16th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We think it will – others’ opinions follow:

Iceland Volcano: Not Yet A Global Cooling Eruption

Date: 16-Apr-10
Country: NORWAY
Author: Alister Doyle,
A vast cloud from an intensifying volcanic eruption in Iceland is too small so far to slow global warming as happened in 1991 with the explosion of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, experts say.


Icelandic Volcano Eruption Intensifies

Icelandic Volcano  Eruption Intensifies

Date: 16-Apr-10
Country: ICELAND
Author: Omar Valdimarsson
A volcanic eruption in Iceland, which has thrown up a 6-km (3.7 mile) high plume of ash and disrupted air traffic across northern Europe, has grown more intense, an expert said on Thursday.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————

The New York Times – Eruption Wasn’t That Powerful, but Effects May Linger.

By HENRY FOUNTAIN
Published: April 15, 2010

The volcanic eruption in Iceland that disrupted air travel in Europe on Thursday was not a particularly powerful one, experts said, but they cautioned that its effects — both on travel and on the regional climate — might linger.

Bill Burton, associate director of the United States Geological Survey’s volcano hazards program, said the current eruption under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier bore similarities to the last eruption there, in 1821. “We seem to be reprising that episode again,” he said.

That eruption continued, on and off, until 1823. While no one can predict how long this one may last, Dr. Burton said, in volcanology, “The past is the key to the present.”

He added, “So if the other eruption lasted for two years, this one might as well.”

While an on-again, off-again eruption might not have much effect on air travel over the long term, it could affect the weather in northern Europe, said Richard Wunderman, a volcanologist with the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program. The volcanic plume contains a lot of sulfur, he said, “that can become an aerosol up there that hangs around a long time reflecting sunlight.”

“It’s not enough that it’s probably going to be cooling the whole climate,” he added. On a regional basis, it could also create what is called volcano weather, with smoglike conditions. That is what happened during the eruption of another volcano in Iceland in 1783, which spewed sulfur dioxide and other compounds and created a persistent haze. (Benjamin Franklin, who experienced the haze in Paris during negotiations on the treaty that ended the Revolutionary War, was among the first to draw the link between eruptions and climate.)

Unlike huge volcanic blasts including the one at Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, the eruption in southern Iceland began slowly about a month ago, with a series of fissures on the eastern side of the volcano and what volcanologists call fire fountaining, the spewing of hot magma through vents. Dr. Burton said that it was only when the magma found a new route through the volcano earlier this week — shifting to the summit, directly under the glacial ice — that the ash-rich eruption began.

That eruption late Wednesday created a plume of ash that spread out across northern Europe at high altitudes, forcing aviation authorities to ground flights and close airports because of the risk of damage to aircraft, particularly the engines, from abrasive silicate particles.

Dr. Burton said that when the eruption shifted to the summit, there were indications that the silica content of the ash increased. “Theoretically, the more silica-rich the ash, the more risky or greater threat there is,” he said. But any volcanic plume is dangerous. “The plane is effectively sandblasted,” he said. “Even the windows can become frosted.”

Dr. Burton said the eruption ranked low on a measure of power called the volcanic explosivity index, nowhere near Pinatubo, which rated a 6 on the 1 to 8 scale.

—————-

The Financial Times playful editorial writes that the Eyjafjallajokull volcano seemingly decided to give Icelanders something else to talk about then the responsibility their three banks had for the start of the financial crisis – the fact that built in problems from the UK and the Netherlands landed on the Iceland management of the banks. Now, their little volcano is sending its ash flying to those two neighboring countries as if it were a revenge. But what may be even a bigger volcano explosion might be if the activity expands to the near by Katla volcano as this happened 200 years ago – so things might get worse before any better.

###

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.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

GLOBAL WARMING IGNITES BORDERS AS WELL

By Manuel Manonelles, BARCELONA, (IPS) Posted by Other News January 3, 2009.

Little by little, it is being confirmed that the melting of the polar ice caps, whether in Antarctica or the Arctic, is happening significantly faster than initially predicted. The consequences of this for peace, one of the main victims of climate change, are enormous.

Glaciers and areas of high-altitude mountains that were previously considered zones of perpetual snow are now melting. A paradigmatic case is that of the alpine border between Switzerland and Italy where during a recent routine verification, certain sections of ice or perennial snow that had been on the map since 1861 were found to be missing. In this case, the two countries have enjoyed long periods of peaceful coexistence and are approaching the problem in a logical and cordial fashion, forming a commission to find a technical solution.

However, the possible implications of cases like this in other geographical areas are very worrisome. The destabilising potential of a similar development on the India-Pakistan border would be enormous, particularly in the zone of Kashmir or the Siachen glacier, where more than 3000 soldiers of both countries have died since 1984. The same is true of the tense China-India border, or the deeply problematic border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which will grow increasingly porous with melting, contributing to a rise in destabilisation in what are already two of the most unstable countries on the earth.

Another major effect of global warming is the gradual opening of major global shipping lanes in areas that had previously been impassable because of ice. The Northeast Passage along the north of Russia, used recently for the first time in history, shortens travel between the ports of China, Japan, and Korea and Hamburg, Rotterdam, and South Hampton by 4,000 kilometres. With the Northwest Passage along northern Canada, travel between the China and the ports of the eastern United States is similarly shortened.

The opening of these new routes will completely change the dynamics of intercontinental trade and might render irrelevant places that until now were considered geostrategically essential, such as the Panama and the Suez Canal.

Add to this the draw of massive reserves of raw materials expected to be present in the Arctic, ever more accessible as the ice recedes, which is provoking a race for control of the area – including an arms race – and is stoking tensions particularly between Russia, Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. The Russian news agency TASS has calculated oil reserves in the area at over 10 billion tonnes. Last year Canada approved an extraordinary 6.9 billion dollar arms bill to strengthen its military presence in its arctic zone, while Russia has resumed tactical flights of nuclear bombers in its polar region, triggering the protests of numerous countries.

This also explains, in part, the speed with which the European Union is processing the application for EU membership of bankrupt Iceland, which would place the body in the best possible position for future negotiations and territorial claims in the area with regard to future access to the “Arctic banquet”.

The melting of the ice caps is also the major cause of rising sea levels, which have other irreversible territorial, social, and economic consequences, such as the physical disappearance -partial or total- of certain small island states of the Pacific likely to occur within a few years -the Maldives, Samoa, Kiribati, among others. Obviously the implications are vast, including – in addition to the personal, environmental, cultural, and national trauma – the political and legal status of future states that have no territory. The principal components of the global infrastructure, from ports and refineries to airports and nuclear plants, are also seriously at risk, and will find themselves near or at or even below sea level.

It is important to note in this context that the majority of the global population lives in areas close to the sea, starting with megacities like Mumbai, London, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires, and densely-populated areas like the Ganges delta in Bangladesh, where rising sea levels are already wreaking havoc in the form of water pollution and related effects. Recent studies indicate the possibility of some 200 million new environmental refugees in coming years -refugees who would only increase the already considerable humanitarian pressures and tensions in these areas and exacerbate existing or latent conflict.

The Global Humanitarian Fund issued a report this year that shows unequivocally that climate change today is responsible for some 300,000 deaths per year. Numbers for the medium and long-term are even higher. In this context, the urgency of fighting climate is a pre-condition for a peaceful future. Therefore, the international community has no other option, specially after the fiasco in Copenhagen, to spring into action as soon as possible. It is about climate, but also about peace and human lives.

—————-

This and all “other news” issues edited by Roberto Savio can be found at www.other-net.info/index.php

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 20th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the Energy & Capital website information of value:

On January 1, 2010, for the first time in history,
Greenland’s $273 billion Rare Earth resource will become private property.

And one company will control it all.

“Dear Reader” writes, Keith Kohl, the editor of that investment newsletter:

“On New Year’s Day, the Kingdom of Denmark will relinquish its sovereign hold over Greenland’s mineral rights.

At stake: a 500-square-mile hunk of Arctic bedrock…

To most, this ice-encrusted landscape is the definition of barren and uninviting.

The only vegetation is moss, and the nearest town is little more than a collection of tents, over 100 miles away.

But to the world’s biggest automakers, as well as to the global weapons industry, this uninhabitable hunk of rock is the most precious 500 square miles on the planet.

?You see, locked within this property is a unique group of minerals, concentrated unlike any other deposit on earth.

?They’re called Rare Earth Elements, or REEs for short. And this prized piece of land contains more than $273 billion worth.

Without them, some of our most important modern technologies could never exist.

In fact, they’re so crucial to modern circuitry that industry insiders came up with a nickname for REEs: ‘Technology metals.’

From hybrid car batteries… to wind turbine motors… to missile guidance systems…

Metals such as cerium, promethium, europium and many of the remaining 29 Rare Earth Elements are essential to all modern electronic devices that use:

  • rechargeable batteries
  • electric motors
  • photo optics
  • solar cells
  • strong magnets

And as the Kingdom of Denmark signs away its rights to these riches, the world’s biggest concentration of REEs will fall into the hands of a single company.

“Literally overnight, this company – which is trading for just under 50 cents right now – will come to control 1/4 of the global supply… for the next half century.

Now before I tell you all about this company — and its imminent run-up — let me explain why these minerals are so critical for Big Auto and the defense industry…

… And why they’re the Western world’s last line of defense against a huge and determined rival.

You see, for the last 15 years, the world has gotten its REEs from one main source.”

And it hasn’t exactly been a friendly one.” is written in that newsletter – then elaborated:

China’s Mission:
A Rare Earth Element Monopoly

“The Mideast had oil, but China has Rare Earth Elements. As OPEC did with oil… China is about to tighten its hammerlock on the market for some of the world’s most valuable metals.” – NY Times

The Chinese knew how important Rare Earths would be years ago.

In fact, as far back as 1992, Communist Party Leader Deng Xiaoping said: “There is oil in the Middle East. There is rare earth in China.”

And since then, they have been doing everything in their power to realize this destiny…

On April 27th of this year, they penned a deal with a major foreign supplier to widen their control of this market to a historic level.

Today, thanks to that deal, Communist China produces 96.8% of the total global supply of these vital elements.

656-chart
Obviously, the newsletter does not mention Bolivia, Mongolia, and not even further resources in the US – but nevertheless – the basic information is of great interest.

Here’s what I mean he continues:

Every Toyota Prius, every Honda Civic Hybrid, and just about every other battery-powered car on the market requires between 23 and 25 pounds of Rare Earths to run.

For Japan, this is a very dangerous scenario:

“Japan, which imports nearly 100% of its rare earths from China, sees the group of elements as a probable battleground” – Wall Street Journal.

And while cleantech is still new, it’s already changing the face of the REE market.

Because as vital as Rare Earth components are, they make up only a tiny fraction of the overall mass of any modern electronic device.

That is why up until 2008, the entire global market for REEs was just $2 billion.

But with the emergence of cleantech, this is all rapidly changing.

quote-1

In fact, less than a year from now, growth in the battery-powered car industry will increase global REE consumption between 90% and 166% from 2008 levels.

Now here’s why there is no end in sight for this trend: In high-capacity batteries, Rare Earths represent a significant percentage of the weight.

And right now, these batteries are being produced at an unprecedented rate.

Just look at the forecast for hybrid/electric sales for the next six years:

scenario-for-hybrid-vehicles

I’m talking about over 10 million battery-powered cars globally by the year 2015. (That’s a 500% increase over what exists today.)

And remember, it’s not just hybrids.

It’s any technology in which electric motors, photovoltiac cells and portable rechargeable batteries are essential… which means that on top of using REEs in the solar panels and in the the wind turbines themselves, every cleantech power generator will also rely on REE-filled batteries to store the energy.

And because batteries are so much hungrier for REEs more than any other single product, the demand for REEs will outpace the growth of the consumer electronics market alone — by as much as four-fold.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 8th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


“Iceland will be a hugely important partner if they join, contributing to the EU’s geographic completeness,” said Iceland’s ambassador to the EU, Stefan Haukur Johannesson, who was appointed chief negotiator in the upcoming accession talks; he continued – “The northwestern flank will be added, which is key in the age of climate change and when the EU is starting to develop its own Arctic agenda.”

The EU is keen to get a toehold on the Arctic, with its enormous oil and gas potential and shipping possibilities via Northwest Passage. The bloc itself has no territorial access to the pole. With Iceland on board, the EU would instantly be on the Arctic Council, membership of which has been blocked by Canada.

But Iceland’s governing coalition is divided over the EU application. The normally euro-sceptic Left Greens gave their okay to moving ahead with negotiations in order to join the government, but much of their membership has not reacted well to the decision and MPs are under pressure from local branches of the party. Some analysts are speculating that it could split the party in two, with the more environmentally minded wing of the party the more pro-EU.

The centre left Social Democratic Alliance and their far-left coalition partners are also split over what attitude to take toward energy-intensive industries and a range of other policy issues.   It is far from certain if the government were to fall that any new coalition would continue with the application process.

On Friday, a poll carried out by the Research Center of Bifröst University for the TV channel Stöð Two found that 54 percent of Icelanders now oppose membership while only 29 percent are in favour, with 17 percent uncertain.

The survey suggests that opposition to joining the bloc has hardened in the last few months, as a poll in August had EU supporters on 34.7 percent and opponents on 48.5 percent. In September, another poll put backers of accession on 32.7 percent and opponents on 50.2 percent.

After the crash of Iceland’s three banks  people are still very angry. They don’t know who they should be angry at, so the EU, seemingly,  has turned into a sort of scapegoat. “There’s anger at everything foreign – the Brits, the Dutch, the IMF, the EU. They make no distinction,” said the Ambassador. “Another opinion says that with the banking collapse, there was a panic. a huge majority wanted to join the EU – now that is gone.” This opinion also says -  “If we joined the EU, we would get maybe five MEPs, similar to Malta, and three votes in the Council of Ministers. Our voice just would not be heard there. Our interests would instantly be sidelined by the bigger countries.” Iceland’s main interest is in the fisheries, that provide it with one third of the foreign currency earnings, and the EU might not help in this area.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 1st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

we posted about the event at www.sustainabilitank.info/2009/06…

now we get further details at   www.economist.com/daily/news/disp…

——–

Greenland – Feeling free
Jul 1st 2009
From Economist.com

Celebrating semi-independence with a feast of whale

Day one
GIVEN the choice of subsisting on seal or whale I would plump for the former, without enthusiasm. A mouthful of seal flesh has little to recommend it, unless you are drawn to a slippery, dark, lamb-like meat that tastes as if it had been left to stew in a dirty aquarium. But neither is whale tempting: chewing its skin is like gnawing a strip of leather soaked in cod-liver oil. In either case, at least on the first encounter, a diner is likely to experience a faint sense of nausea. If you must have whale, cetacean biltong (whale jerky) is more palatable than the fresh stuff.
whalesafp.jpg
AFP


Hooray for two tonnes of flesh

Most Greenlanders, however, relish both meats when the chance arises. A recent weekend in Nuuk, the Greenlandic capital, saw a triple excuse to indulge. The summer solstice, which serves as the national day, coincided both with the replacement after 30 years of a much-disliked government and with celebrations for throwing off (sort of) three centuries of Denmark’s colonial yoke. As a result, Nuuk was in festive mood. The pretty red-and-white Greenlandic flag fluttered from every bus, official building and school-child’s hand. The town was criss-crossed by processions of men in white anoraks and jovial women in coloured beads and embroidered seal-skin outfits. Visiting dignitaries enthusiastically ripped veils from new pieces of public art: in one square revealing a statue of seals at play, while above the town beach appeared three slabs of concrete holding aloft a ball of stone.

Over a breakfast of herring and salmon in the town’s main hotel one could bump into a visiting bishop from Copenhagen bedecked in medallions; Iceland’s affable president; or one of a wide array of Danish royals. We outsiders then took turns trooping through the town’s fish market, gawping at mounds of halibut and at the bloody work of a sealmonger who obligingly butchered a carcass. On the streets the mood was restrained and good-natured, only rising to a murmur of excitement when the official distribution of whale-meat began.

The local government had claimed special dispensation to harpoon two rare Greenlandic whales. One of the pair, it was widely said, had turned out to be 200 years old, although I do not understand just how one determines such a fact: perhaps it is like counting the rings of a felled tree. Officials then handed out two tonnes of the flesh to the 56,000 or so residents of this massive territory. In Nuuk that was a simple matter: whale munchers crowded a sports hall for lunch, then strolled home with meat in bulging plastic bags. But the rest of Greenland is sparsely populated. There are tiny settlements (the smallest has a single inhabitant, a middle-aged man who refuses to move to the nearest town) and small towns spread far north of the Arctic circle and along Greenland’s remote and icy eastern coast. Delivering whale, on time, to the scattered masses looked like an immense bureaucratic task. Local television news reported it was only possible thanks to the many small, red propeller-planes of Air Greenland.

The survival of so many small settlements across the vast country is made possible by the largesse of the Greenland state, which in turn relies on billions of kroner doled out by distant Denmark. That Denmark spends the equivalent of more than $11,000 per Greenlander, each year, might explain why the locals, though delighted to be claiming more powers of self-government, are not yet rushing for complete independence. One afternoon in Nuuk, at a kaffemik, a sort of family party that involves drinking coffee, wine and beer—in this case to celebrate the school graduation of a daughter—guests said that they were thrilled by their new government. But they were also adamant that Greenland could not yet afford full independence. “Not now, it’s good as it is for now,” explained one woman. A visiting Danish journalist said wryly, while sipping a bâja pilluarit (celebration beer), “psychologically, the state is my father, you know?”

And yet people feel great pride at Greenland’s taking on more control: over police and the courts, over local government and the schools and dozens more things. Greenlandic is to become an official language, and the nation feels it is making itself noticed on the world stage. “It’s our land, our language. We have to do it ourselves, not rely on others doing it,” explains a woman in national dress wearing white seal boots and trousers. Despite their love of traditions, Greenlanders are under no illusion that they will return to a past of surviving on what they hunt. The celebrations and the food of old will come and go, but nobody will be asked to subsist on seal or whale.


Day two

YOUNG voters, especially left-leaning ones, are keen on Greenland’s new prime minister, Kuupik Kleist: they swept him to power in June. The folk of Nuuk explain how happy they are to see the new government (and to see the back of the old one), by saying that “Kuupik is our Obama”. At a rock concert in a sports hall on mid-summer eve, as sleet and snowfall and the midnight sky hangs grey, his appearances draws cheers from the crowd. He gives a short speech from the stage and the audience pauses, expectant. Will he burst into song? Rumours have spread that he will belt out something, perhaps an independence anthem. Instead he waves and is gone.

musician.jpg
Adam Roberts

A traditional singer, banging on in the traditional way
For older Greenlanders, at least, it is a disappointing moment. Fifteen years ago Mr Kleist was best known as the lead singer of a local band, whose album “Samma Samma” proved a hit in part because he sang in Greenlandic, not Danish. “He has a voice like Leonard Cohen,” claims my Greenlandic guide, and others too. Having since listened to the album, I can report that his voice is far less miserable than Mr Cohen’s.

So Greenland has a singing prime minister. Mr Kleist is not the only musical politician: one could pull together a decent band with Bill Clinton on sax, Tony Blair on guitar, Madagascar’s young DJ-turned-coup-plotter-turned-president mixing the music backstage and Kim Jong Il on the tambourine. But Mr Kleist is distinct in this way: he leads a tiny country obsessed with producing music, in which music and politics are now swirling together in a heady mix.

At the weekend I spend a couple of hours at Greenland’s main recording studio, Atlantic Music, with its owner, Ejvind Elsner, a large and jovial man who has been producing local bands for two decades. He believes that young musicians are now changing the politics of his country. Before the recent election, opposition parties helped to fund a controversial new album by a band, Liima Inui, which provoked the ire of the old government. “Republik” helped to express public anger with politicians who had been caught fiddling their expenses, and to whip up calls for self-rule.

Mr Elsner claims that he had calls from officials who threatened to close his business, or at least to block access to radio and television, unless the album was scrapped. “You’ll be finished,” warned a leading figure of the old ruling party. Most offensive, apparently, was the idea of promoting “Republik” while the Danish queen visited. Instead the album has become a theme for the celebrations of self-governance Liima Inui, an impressively large group, headlined the main rock concert on the night of the self-governance celebrations.

Perhaps because of those long, dark winters, with so little else to do, Greenlanders have developed a wide variety of music, relative to their small population. The Danes introduced oompah bands, much intoning of hymns and a rural Nordic folk habit of singing jolly stories to each other. But Greenlandic customs are more entertaining. Traditions such as throat warbling (when two young women, typically, stand nose-to-nose and produce a disconcerting wail) and singing along as a seal-skin drum is tapped with a stick, are merging with new forms of Greenlandic pop, rock and hip-hop.

Mr Elsner sees a distinct a Greenlandic sound growing up, perhaps to rival successful recent Nordic musical exports from Iceland (Bjork, for example) and Norway (Røyksopp). More important, the musicians could play a powerful social role at home. “In future the music will mean a lot more for the people. We used to sing about love; now it is about politics, nature, social problems. People are not great at talking to each other, but they can have a say with music. We have to use the music to overcome our problems.”

Local rappers are most explicit in taking on Greenland’s social difficulties, singing about suicide, sexual abuse and corrupt politicians. There are other serious problems to address: alcoholism has long plagued much of northern Europe, so the governments of Nordic countries have used high taxes and restricted sales to limit binge drinking. The indigenous people of Greenland, the Inuit, are particularly vulnerable to alcohol, but many of the local Danes are equally heavy drinkers. In a society where many rely on funds doled out from Denmark, alcohol is one way to pass the time. But this weekend is not a notably drunken affair. Visiting a couple of Nuuk’s smoky bars nothing more rowdy or aggressive is on show than one might find in London on a Friday evening.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 22nd, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

GREENLANDERS take another step towards full independence from Denmark on Sunday June 21st, the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere. The 56,000 residents will be granted an expanded version of home rule, after a referendum in 2008 showed more than 75% support for the territory taking over responsibility for police, justice and security. In time Greenland, which has been ruled by Denmark since the 18th century and which continues to receive hefty subsidies, is expected to claim status as an independent country. Its large deposits of minerals, including oil and precious stones, could make the sparsely populated land particularly rich.

For background, see article

Fondly, Greenland Loosens Danish Rule

22greenland600.jpg
Narayan Mahon for The New York Times

Some of Greenland’s 58,000 people in Nuuk on Sunday at a ceremony giving the country powers of self-governance.


By SARAH LYALL, June 21, 2009



NUUK, Greenland — The thing about being from Greenland, said Susan Gudmundsdottir Johnsen, is that many outsiders seem to have no clue where it actually is.

Related  Times Topics: Greenland



“They say, ‘Oh, my God, Greenland?’ It’s like they’ve never heard of it,” said Ms. Johnsen, 36, who was born in Iceland but has lived on this huge, largely frozen northern island for 25 years. “I have to explain: ‘Here you have a map. Here’s Europe. The big white thing is Greenland.’  ”

But Greenland, with 58,000 people and only two traffic lights, both of them here in the capital, is now securing its place in the world. On Sunday, amid solemn ceremony and giddy celebration, it ushered in a new era of self-governance that sets the stage for eventual independence from Denmark, its ruler since 1721.

The move, which allows Greenland to gradually take responsibility over areas like criminal justice and oil exploration, follows a referendum last year in which 76 percent of voters said they wanted self-rule. Many of the changes are deeply symbolic. Kalaallisut, a traditional Inuit dialect, is now the country’s official language, and Greenlanders are now recognized under international law as a separate people from Danes.

Thrillingly, the Greenlandic government now gets to call itself by its Inuit name, Naalakkersuisut — the first time in history, officials said, that the word has been used in a Danish government document.

“It’s a new relationship based on equality,” said Greenland’s new, charismatic prime minister, Kuupik Kleist, speaking of the balance of power between Greenland and Denmark.

He compared the situation to a marriage in which the wife was bossing around her henpecked husband. “From today,” he said, “the man in the house has as much say as the wife.”

But this is a delicate time, full of hope and trepidation in equal measure. Few Greenlanders graduate from college. The country is rife with social problems like alcoholism, unemployment and domestic violence. Infrastructure improvements are punishingly expensive and desperately needed in a place where, for instance, people travel by boat or plane because there are no roads connecting towns.

Meanwhile, global warming is rapidly melting the mighty icecap that covers some 80 percent of Greenland’s 840,000 square miles. Although that is destroying traditional hunting livelihoods, it also brings new opportunities for exploring and exploiting what could be vast reserves of oil and minerals deep beneath Greenland’s surface and in the waters around it.

Under the new self-government agreement, Greenland will get half of any proceeds from oil or minerals. The other half will go to Denmark, to be deducted from the grant of 3.4 billion kroner, or $637 million, that it gives Greenland each year. The hope is that eventually the subsidy can cease altogether and Greenland will be ready for independence.

The prospect of Greenland’s benefiting from what may be a lucrative oil and mineral business raises an obvious question: What’s in it for Denmark?

“It’s not a question about money,” the Danish prime minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, said in an interview here. “This is a question of respecting Greenlandic people and giving them the right to decide their own destiny.”

The right to self-determination, particularly for indigenous people like Greenland’s Inuit, more commonly known as Eskimos, was a recurring theme this weekend. Two exotically dressed visitors from Norway’s Sami Parliament, which represents the country’s reindeer herders, appeared at a trade exposition here on Saturday, marveling at how far the Greenlanders had come.

“They’re many steps farther along than we are,” said Marianne Balto, Parliament’s vice president. “It gives hope to the Sami people.”

Iceland’s president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, was there, looking at it from the other side, recalling how his country ended hundreds of years of Danish rule with independence in 1944.

Bent Liisberg, a lawyer from Norway, which was owned for hundreds of years by Denmark and then by Sweden, had much the same perspective. On Sunday, he was carrying a backpack from which protruded a little Greenlandic flag, its red-and-white design representing the sea, sky and sun. “This is a great day for small nations,” he said.

Nuuk is a curious city, where old, brightly colored wooden houses built by the original Danish settlers coexist with rows of down-on-their-heels apartment buildings that are almost Soviet in their soullessness. Its harbor is impossibly quaint and its views breathtakingly beautiful; its center is indifferently maintained and virtually paralyzed by traffic at 8 o’clock every morning, when the workday begins.

It has 15,000 residents, and many seemed to be out and about at 7:30 a.m., when the procession down to the harbor for the self-government celebrations began. It snowed the day before — giving a strange feeling at a time of year when there is virtually no darkness — but on Sunday the sun blazed across the water.

Representatives from 17 countries and territories, including the United States and the Faroe Islands (also owned by Denmark), were there. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, wearing a traditional Inuit costume with shorts made of seal fur and a short, beaded shawl, solemnly handed over the official self-government document to the chairman of Greenland’s Parliament.

For Greenlanders, who can feel like second-class citizens in Denmark, the new arrangement bolsters a national pride they almost didn’t know they had.

“It is nothing that we will feel on a day-to-day basis, but the symbolic value of this gives people so much more confidence,” said Peter Lovstrom, 28, who works at the national art museum in Nuuk.

He said it was impossible to feel rancor toward Denmark, given all of the intermarriage and connections between the countries.

“We all get along. We have to get along,” Mr. Lovstrom said. “But I feel a bit more Greenlandic now.”

Correction: A previous version of this article contained an incorrect amount in Danish kroner for the grant given by Denmark to Greenland each year. It is 3.4 billion kroner, not million.

———————
  1. EUROPE: Decolonising the Arctic
  2. Nearly independent day
  3. Greenland gives Denmark the cold shoulder. But would it ever be viable as a country?
  4. Jun 20th 2009 Web only
  5. BRITAIN: Tax havens under pressure
  6. Whiter than white
  7. Britain’s offshore financial centres race for respectability
  8. Jun 18th 2009

——————–

Arctic nations say no Cold War; military stirs.
Reuters, Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:16pm EDT

r.jpg

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) – Arctic nations are promising to avoid new “Cold War” scrambles linked to climate change, but military activity is stirring in a polar region where a thaw may allow oil and gas exploration or new shipping routes.

The six nations around the Arctic Ocean are promising to cooperate on challenges such as overseeing possible new fishing grounds or shipping routes in an area that has been too remote, cold and dark to be of interest throughout recorded history.

But global warming is spurring long-irrelevant disputes, such as a Russian-Danish standoff over who owns the seabed under the North Pole or how far Canada controls the Northwest Passage that the United States calls an international waterway.

“It will be a new ocean in a critical strategic area,” said Lee Willett, head of the Marine Studies Programme at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies in London, predicting wide competition in the Arctic area.

“The main way to project influence and safeguard interests there will be use of naval forces,” he said. Ground forces would have little to defend around remote coastlines backed by hundreds of km (miles) of tundra.

Many leading climate experts now say the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free by 2050 in summer, perhaps even earlier, after ice shrank to a record low in September 2007 amid a warming blamed by the U.N. Climate Panel on human burning of fossil fuels.

Previous forecasts had been that it would be ice-free in summers toward the end of the century.

Among signs of military concern, a Kremlin document on security in mid-May said Russia may face wars on its borders in the near future because of control over energy resources — from the Middle East to the Arctic.

Russia, which is reasserting itself after the collapse of the Soviet Union, sent a nuclear submarine in 2008 across the Arctic under the ice to the Pacific.The new class of Russian submarine is called the Borei — “Arctic Wind.”

—–


NANOOK

Canada runs a military exercise, Nanook, every year to reinforce sovereignty over its northern territories. Russia faces five NATO members — the United States, Canada, Norway, Iceland and Denmark via Greenland — in the Arctic.

In February, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper criticized Russia’s “increasingly aggressive” actions after a bomber flew close to Canada before a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama.

And last year Norway’s government decided to buy 48 Lockheed Martin F-35 jets at a cost of 18 billion crowns ($2.81 billion), rating them better than rival Swedish Saab’s Gripen at tasks such as surveillance of the vast Arctic north.

Much may be at stake. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated last year that the Arctic holds 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil — enough to supply current world demand for three years.

And Arctic shipping routes could be short-cuts between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans in summer even though uncertainties over factors such as icebergs, insurance costs or a need for hardened hulls are likely to put off many companies.

Other experts say nations can easily get along in the North.

“The Arctic area would be of interest in 50 or 100 years — not now,” said Lars Kullerud, President of the University of the Arctic. “It’s hype to talk of a Cold War.”

He said an area in dispute between Russia and Denmark at the North Pole was no bigger than a “grey zone” in the Barents Sea over which Russia and Norway have been at odds for decades and where seismic surveys indicate gas deposits in shallow waters.

“The talk of a new Cold War is exaggerated,” said Jakub Godzimirski, of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. “We have seen a lot of shipping traffic going all over the world without tensions,” he said.

Governments also insist a thaw does not herald tensions.

“We will seek cooperative strategies,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg told Reuters during a meeting of Arctic Council foreign ministers in Tromsoe, Norway.

“We are not planning any increase in our armed forces in the Arctic,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the talks in late April, also stressing cooperation.

“Everyone can make easy predictions that when there are resources and there is a need for resources there will be conflict and scramble,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Stoere said. “It need not be that way.”


Agreeing with them that Cold War talk is overdone, Niklas Granholm of the Swedish Defense Research Agency nonetheless said: “The indications we have is that there will be an increased militarization of the Arctic.”

That would bring security spinoffs. Many may be humdrum — ensuring safety of shipping, or deployment of gear in case of oil spills such as the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska.

Wider possibilities include a possible race between Russia and the United States for quieter nuclear submarines.

Submarines, which can launch long-range nuclear missiles, have long had a hideout under the fringe of the Arctic ice pack where constant waves and grinding of ice masks engine noise.

“It might lead to a new generation of ultra-silent submarines or other, new technologies,” said Granholm.

Greater access to Arctic resources and shipping is one of few positive spinoffs as climate change undermines the hunting cultures of indigenous peoples and threatens wildlife from caribou to polar bears.

The Northwest Passage past Canada, for instance, cuts the distance between Europe and the Far East to 7,900 nautical miles from 12,600 via the Panama Canal. Similar savings can be made on a route north of Russia.

A U.N. deadline for coastal states to submit claims to offshore continental shelves passed on May 13 and in 2007 Russia planted a flag on the seabed in 13,980 feet of water under the Pole to back its claim.

Russia’s flag-planting stunt might also herald new technologies — the world record for drilling in water depth is 10,011 feet, held by Transocean Inc, the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor.

Claims by Norway and Iceland do not extend so far north and Denmark, Canada and the United States were not bound by the deadline.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Greenland’s future: Divorce up north? Greenland creeps towards independence from Denmark?
Nov 27th 2008 | COPENHAGEN, From The Economist print edition

THIS week’s referendum in Greenland marks a milestone in the protracted divorce proceedings between the world’s largest island and Denmark, one of its smallest colonial powers. Over 75% of Greenlanders voted to give themselves the right to loosen ties with Denmark by slowly taking control of such areas as security, justice and police affairs. The vote also promises Greenland (population: 56,000) a bigger slice of future profits from minerals, including oil, rubies, gold and diamonds.

4808eu3.jpg
Jupiter Images


An icy independence looms

For most Greenlanders, the referendum was as replete with a sense of the righting of historic wrongs as Barack Obama’s election in America. “I’m extremely moved, because now, like other peoples, we will be recognised as a nation,” said Hans Enoksen, the premier. Yet although Mr Enoksen wept tears of joy in Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, it is premature to assume that full Inuit independence will come quickly.

Denmark has ruled Greenland since the 18th century. It conceded limited home rule only in 1979 (Greenland chose to leave the then European Community in 1985). The Danes have conceded that Greenland has a right to divorce. But independence may be a dream that the Greenlanders cannot afford. The population is tiny and the problems vast. The main export is fish and a DKr3.4 billion ($590m) annual grant from Denmark pays for public services like education and health care.

Even with the grant, the difference in living standards between Greenland and Denmark is stark. Education is bad, nutrition is poor and problems like alcoholism and child abuse abound. To tackle these problems, Greenlanders would need a bigger source of income than the Danish subsidy, which would presumably be phased out. In theory, this could come from minerals, but exploiting these requires big investment that it might be hard to finance now. Greenland’s west coast may hold more oil than the North Sea, but harsh conditions could push the cost of extraction as high as $50 a barrel.

“Expectations have been unrealistic,” says Jens Frederiksen, leader of the Democrats, the only political party in Greenland to oppose this week’s vote. Soren Espersen, a member of parliament for the Danish People’s Party, is blunter: “Greenlanders have been brainwashed by unprecedented propaganda.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 11th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

[Comment] Transport – go green or go under.
RUPERT WOLFE MURRAY, from Romania – an Olinion on EUobserver, September 10, 2008.

EUOBSERVER / COMMENT – Are there any political leaders in the EU who say we must (urgently) move towards renewable-energy-transport and that road-building can no longer be our top transport priority?

The issue is getting urgent and we must prepare for the risk of oil depletion and global warming, which could result in a six-metre rise in sea levels.

(Rupert Wolfe Murray is an independent consultant based in Romania.)

Even a small risk of oil running out should be enough to make us urgently review our transport sector. The economic arguments are powerful: There is big money to be made by “electrifying” Europe’s transport fleets and the car industry is indeed quietly moving towards the electric car. But the political will is missing.

The “Peak Oil Theory” of global oil supplies “peaking” in 2012 was not taken seriously by the mainstream until recently. That attitude is starting to change. Shell Oil recently sponsored an advert in Time Magazine that quoted a former US energy secretary as saying: “We can’t continue to make supply meet demand for much longer. It’s no longer the case that we have a few voices crying in the wilderness. The battle is over. The peakists have won.”

If oil did peak, the consequences for our transport system, food supply and economic system would be devastating. Although there is growing interest in renewable energy, it is still considered somewhat marginal, uncompetitive and untested. There is no sign of a “rush to renewables” that could be compared to the “dash to gas” that took place in the UK during the 1980s. We are still tinkering at the margins.

The EU’s new transport policy must be based upon renewable energy. The first challenge is a conceptual one: People need to understand that a transport system can function on electricity just as efficiently as it now does on oil. The case for a renewable transport system needs to be communicated to the public and a massive investment plan worked out.

It is becoming increasingly clear that a combination of wind, solar, hydro and nuclear power could provide us with a carbon-free power supply. The most exciting developments seem to be taking place in the solar energy industry, where prices are falling rapidly.

***


European electrical grid to northern Africa:

A German utility recently commissioned a study into extending the European electrical grid to northern Africa – a potential major supplier of solar energy. Apparently Morocco could provide all of Europe with electricity if three percent of the country was covered with solar panels. Cost is a major barrier here, but if we consider that global companies will spend $3.4 trillion on IT this year according to Gartner, a consultancy, it is clear that the cash is available.

Another barrier to the development of electricity as a replacement fuel is the challenge of storing electricity. The electric car could provide a solution to this problem. The concept is simple: electric cars would charge up at night, when electricity is cheap, and during the day the grid could draw off some electric power from individual cars, when extra power is needed.

According to the Zero Carbon Britain group, if Britain’s car fleet became electric, it would provide the grid with more than enough reserve energy to meet any surges in demand.

Electric cars, bicycles and improved public transport could take care of almost all transport requirements at the urban level. But what about long distance transport? There is talk of biofuel and hydrogen fuelled planes, but the future for these fuels does not look promising.

***

The train from Naples to New York:

A strong transport policy would confront the energy and transport lobbies and phase out aviation altogether, replacing it with high-speed trains and wind-powered ships. A French train recently broke the 500-km-an-hour speed record.

If the Russians and Americans took the plunge, they could build an “Intercontinental Peace Bridge” across the Bering Straits and it might be possible to one day get a train from Naples to New York.

What about freight? Our economic system has become so dependent on big trucks that it is hard to think what could replace them. Europe’s freight-train infrastructure has become so neglected – with the exception of Germany – that upgrading it would cost trillions of Euros.

But there is another alternative: the airship. Interest in airships is currently growing and scientists say that future “freight airships” could pick up containers directly from a factory yard, fly across the world and deliver inside another factory yard. We need to urgently develop these future forms of transport before it is too late.

Rupert Wolfe Murray is an independent consultant based in Romania and author of the blog: www.productive.ro/blog

———–

Melting ice cap pushes Arctic up EU agenda.
New transit routes across the Arctic present great commercial opportunities and enormous environmental risks.

LEIGH PHILLIPS, EUobserver, September 10, 2008.

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – The rapid melting of the polar ice cap in the Arctic offers Europe a “first-time opportunity” to access new trade routes and massive oil and gas deposits, the European Commission has said – developments that are pushing the EU’s polar strategy up the policy agenda.

Speaking in Ilulissat, Greenland, on Tuesday (9 September) to a conference of the Nordic Council of Ministers dedicated to Arctic issues, the EU’s fisheries and maritime affairs commissioner Joe Borg said: “As the ice recedes, we are presented with a first-time opportunity to use transport routes such as the Northern Sea Route.

“This would translate into shorter transportation routes and greater trading possibilities, and will provide a better opportunity to draw upon the wealth of untapped natural resources in the Arctic,” Mr Borg told the council, an intergovernmental forum for co-operation between the Nordic countries established after the Second World War.

The Nordic Council brings together EU member states Denmark, Finland and Sweden alongside Norway and Iceland – both outside the bloc – as well as the autonomous territories of Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the Aland Islands.

:

In his speech, Mr Borg also highlighted a document published earlier this year by the commission jointly with the EU’s chief diplomat, Javier Solana, that mapped out the latest thinking from Brussels on the security implications of climate change.

The seven-page paper authored by Mr Solana and commissioner for external relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner, distributed to EU government leaders in March, argued that the European Union should boost its civil and military capacities to respond to “serious security risks” resulting from catastrophic climate change.

The paper, Climate Change and International Security, underlined the risks and opportunities presented by the melting Arctic, alongside concerns about increased numbers of migrants, territorial disputes, water shortages in Israel and decreases in crop yields in the broader Middle East. Political radicalisation as a result of climate insecurity, sea-level rises and extreme weather events also present security challenges, according to the report.

Commissioner Borg emphasised the centrality of the Arctic in EU security thinking: “This document highlights the growing geopolitical importance of the Arctic region … [with the] opening up [of] new waterways and international trade routes, and the increased accessibility to the enormous hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic region.

“This accessibility, in conjunction with territorial claims, is changing the geo-strategic dynamics of the region with potential consequences for international stability and for European security, trade and resource interests,” he added.

Regional governance:

Later this year, the commission is to present a communication dedicated to the Arctic region that will tackle issues related to climate change as well as regional governance.

The communication is to propose three main actions. Firstly, the commission is to propose measures supporting scientific research and monitoring with the aim of safeguarding the Arctic environment.

The commission is also interested in the exploitation of Arctic resources such as hydrocarbons and other commodities. The commissioner underscored that this must be done in a sustainable manner, but he also said that the communication hopes to outline how all regions that border the Arctic could gain equal access to such bounty.

“We should seek to apply the principles of a level playing field and reciprocal market access in the Arctic,” he said.

The commissioner also said the EU should seek to ensure equal access to any new fishing opportunities via new regulation and work towards an international fisheries conservation and management scheme for the Arctic – something which has never been implemented.

The third element of the commission’s new thinking on the Arctic is developing the governance of the region.

Noting that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and work performed by the Nordic Council, the Arctic Council and other bodies have already played something of a function in this area, the commissioner said: “Nevertheless, we should be open to develop this system further,” he said, adding that international environmental treaties that apply to the Arctic should be revisited.

In June, the Nordic Council published an extensive study of EU-Arctic policies, and called on the bloc to establish a self-standing Arctic-dedicated unit within the European Commission. The document also suggested the EU needed to “establish, intensify and possibly formalise international co-operation with Arctic regional bodies”.

‘Crazy situation’

Environmentalists agree with the commission that the melting ice cap is a brute fact and that in the absence of appropriate governance, there could be a ‘scramble for the Arctic’ without movement by the EU in this direction.

“There is no environmental management framework for the Arctic,” Neil Hamilton, the director of the WWF’s Arctic programme.

“There is overlapping legislation in various countries, but nothing Arctic-specific, with a result that everyone is looking to Arctic exploitation instead of sustainable development.

“We have a crazy situation where every one is rushing to get into fishing, shipping and oil and gas, but no one’s looking at the manner in which it will occur.”

“It’s not that there should be no exploitation at all,” qualified Mr Hamilton. “Instead, there should be effective management, which we take to mean collaborative management between the different countries.

“Done right, it could be a model for oil and gas extraction for the world.”

But green groups are clear that the emphasis should be on sustainable development, rather than the rush for resources.

“On the other hand, if you open up shipping routes, it could have significant global implications.

“The worst-case scenario would be oil spills in the Arctic, which are impossible to clean up, given the conditions there. And a spill in the Arctic would be catastrophic.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 6th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

BBC News – Arctic Map, prepared by Durham University, shows dispute hotspots.

Maritime jurisdiction and boundaries in the Arctic region.
 news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/staging_site/…

 news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pd…

British scientists say they have drawn up the first detailed map to show areas in the Arctic that could become embroiled in future border disputes. A team from Durham University compiled the outline of potential hotspots by basing the design on historical and ongoing arguments over ownership.
Russian scientists caused outrage last year when they planted their national flag on the seabed at the North Pole.

The UK researchers hope the map will inform politicians and policy makers.
“Its primary purpose is to inform discussions and debates because, frankly, there has been a lot of rubbish about who can claim (sovereignty) over what,” explained Martin Pratt, director of the university’s International Boundaries Research Unit (IBRU).

“To be honest, most of the other maps that I have seen in the media have been very simple,” he added.
“We have attempted to show all known claims; agreed boundaries and one thing that has not appeared on any other maps, which is the number of areas that could be claimed by Canada, Denmark and the US.”

Energy security is driving interest, as is the fact that Arctic ice is melting more and more during the summer. Martin Pratt, Durham University.

The team used specialist software to construct the nations’ boundaries, and identify what areas could be the source of future disputes.

“All coastal states have rights over the resources up to 200 nautical miles from their coastline,” Mr Pratt said. “So, we used specialist geographical software to ‘buffer’ the claims out accurately.”

The researchers also took into account the fact that some nations were able to extend their claims to 350 nautical miles as a result of their landmasses extending into the sea.

Back on the agenda:
The issue of defining national boundaries in the Arctic was brought into sharp relief last summer when a team of Russian explorers used their submarine to plant their country’s flag on the seabed at the North Pole. A number of politicians from the nations with borders within the Arctic, including Canada’s foreign minister, saw it as Moscow furthering its claim to territory within the region.

Mr Pratt said a number of factors were driving territorial claims back on to the political agenda.

“Energy security is driving interest, as is the fact that Arctic ice is melting more and more during the summer,” he told BBC News. “This is allowing greater exploration of the Arctic seabed.”

Data released by the US Geological Survey last month showed that the frozen region contained an estimated 90 billion barrels of untapped oil.

Mr Pratt added that the nations surrounding the Arctic also only had a limited amount of time to outline their claims. “If they don’t define it within the timeframe set out by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, then it becomes part of what is known as ‘The Area’, which is administered by the International Seabed Authority on behalf of humanity as a whole.”

__________

Countries in the area are Russia, Norway, Denmark (Greenland), Iceland, Canada, the US (Alaska).

We believe that 200 miles sovereignty (that is with exclusion of guaranteed maritime passage rights) from the shores of their land-mass is a foregone conclusion.

Any claims to the extension of those sovereign waters should be rejected. Those further sea-bed rights belong to the International Seabed Authority on behalf of humanity as a whole. We believe that no exception to the above should be allowed. We wrote several times that we expect China to step in and make this point stick.

We believe that this is China’s chance to declare its leading role for the 21st century.

arcticboundaries1.gif

arcticboundaries2.gif

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Opinion: Polar Race.
Monday 28 July 2008
by: Guy Taillefer, Le Devoir
 www.truthout.org/article/polar-ra…

Guy Taillefer argues in Le Devoir that the US Geological Survey’s most recent evaluation of the polar depths – that they contain 412 billion barrels of oil, or a third of the planet’s proven reserves – will put additional strain on the already-fragile international understandings with respect to polar sovereignty and development.

The North Pole. Guy Taillefer writes, “Northern governments and oil companies have never salivated to quite the same extent over the Arctic, which becomes all the more hospitable to them as the ice melts … If one were a cynic, one would say that in this instance it is altogether to Ottawa’s advantage to drag its feet in the fight against greenhouse gases …”
Four hundred and twelve billion barrels of oil. A third of the planet’s proven reserves. That’s what the depths of the Arctic contain, according to the US Geological Survey’s most recent evaluation. One may count on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take advantage of the opportunity to reassert Canada’s “unquestionable” sovereignty over the North – and to reduce the debate over the development of the circumpolar world to a war of flags and icebreakers.
Last Wednesday, after four years of research, the US Geological Survey, the American scientific agency specialized in hydrocarbons, delivered the first exhaustive estimate of potential oil and gas situated north of the polar circle: 90 billion barrels of crude, three times as much natural gas, 20 percent of the probable global reserves of liquefied natural gas…. The news is guaranteed to have a strong impact, given the present context of tightening energy supplies, surging prices at the pump, and the extraordinary growth of demand in developing countries. Northern governments and oil companies have never salivated to quite the same extent over the Arctic, which becomes all the more hospitable to them as the ice melts…. If one were a cynic, one would say that in this instance it is altogether to Ottawa’s advantage to drag its feet in the fight against greenhouse gases.
Moreover, quite by chance, the US Geological Survey estimates were made public one year, almost to the day, after two little Russian sailors dove to a depth of 4,000 meters in the beginning of August 2007 to plant a flag on the North Pole. This striking gesture – without any legal effect, however – relaunched the debate on the subject of sovereignty over the Arctic in great style.

Cut to the quick, then-Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay decreed that the region Russia coveted was “unquestionably” Canadian.
Unquestionably? That remains to be seen. Experts from the UN, guarantors of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, will say between now and 2013 which between Ottawa and Moscow has the better-founded pretensions from a scientific perspective. At the moment, however, it seems that Russia is better placed to prove geologically that the Lomonossov Dorsal, a chain of undersea mountains that cross the Arctic, is the prolongation of the Russian continental plateau, and not of the Canadian plateau.
Politicians, unfortunately, don’t bother much with such scientific details in their communications with the electorate, preferring to play a nationalistic rhetoric that is easily digested. So the bad scenario would be that, in this race for the summit of the world, the sharing of the Arctic will be less the result of a UN judgment and multinational dialogue than of power struggles between the five countries involved – Canada, Russia, the United States, Denmark, and Norway. That scenario is altogether plausible.
“The Canadian Arctic is at the heart of our national identity,” Stephen Harper declared last year. He has announced, among other military measures in the last year, an investment of $7 billion over 25 years for buying naval patrol boats. A depressing prospect: that Canada seeks to take on its northern identity is laudable, that it proposes to get there by emphasizing military defense to the detriment of social, ecological and diplomatic initiatives, is much less so. It is difficult in any case to imagine that pugnacious Prime Minister-President Vladimir Putin will allow himself to be intimidated.
Nonetheless, the Harper way remains very questionable, in that it is a thousand leagues from the Canadian Way – based on dialogue and cooperation. Still, the most recent decades have demonstrated that it’s by balancing its own interests with those of its circumpolar neighbors – and not by sticking out its chest – that Canada has succeeded in preserving its Arctic sovereignty.
Moreover, in order to calm tensions, the five held a big meeting last spring, which ended in the participants’ commitment to settle any litigious question “in an orderly way,” to “strengthen their cooperation based on mutual trust and transparency” and to “assure the protection and preservation of the fragile marine environment of the Arctic Ocean.” Empty phrases? The future will show how these beautiful promises that we’d like to see kept will withstand the lust for 412 billion barrels of oil.
———————

We posted several days ago: “Reuters Reports That China Is Planting its Flag in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions. Actually they started already at least in 2003, so this is not just a reaction to the Russian Flag-posting of August 2007.”

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 27th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz ( PJ at SustainabiliTank.com)

So, face up to it – China is also in this game. And why should not Nauru or Grenada also be entiled to some of the profits? if they cannot afford the expense of drilling – bet you Brazil or Japan, even Korea and India, and who knows who else – can!

OK – Now Let Us Sit Down And Talk. For Once We Are Behind China and Expect The Dragon To Stand Its Ground.

a1_072908f.jpg
The North Pole. Guy Taillefer writes, “Northern governments and oil companies have never salivated to quite the same extent over the Arctic, which becomes all the more hospitable to them as the ice melts … If one were a cynic, one would say that in this instance it is altogether to Ottawa’s advantage to drag its feet in the fight against greenhouse gases …” (Photo: NASA GSFC Direct Readout Laboratory / Allen Lunsford).

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 28th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Following just shows how for the many losers from Global Warming there will be also some winners. This change can result not only in wished for positives, but also in potential fights for takeover of the new found wealth.

greenland002.gif

###