Search Results for Tag: Arctic
Apologies of a multitasking blogger…
Snowed up? One of the university buildings.
Attending a conference like this as a reporter has some disadvantages. You have to balance your time between listening, interviewing and producing the radio features. Inevitably, you miss out on some things. It’s all in a good cause, of course, to spread the message about what’s happening with regard to the climate in the Arctic region.
I produced a report for the environment programme Living Planet last night and this morning, which you can hear on this week’s programme.
Right now I’m attending the International Polar Year conference, which is one of two sessions available at Arctic Frontiers today. The present topic is the dynamic response of Arctic glaciers to global warming. It’s very technical and requires a bit more concentration, so I’ll leave you for now.
(These Tromso students are really dedicated to reducing emissions…,)
DateJanuary 21, 2009 | 12:39 pm
Carbon capture as ticket to keep drilling?
Yesterday evening and in the course of the day I had so many interesting talks it’s hard to know where to start.
Heidi Sörensen is Norway’s deputy environment minister and she seems to be really passionate about her job and the urgency of tackling climate change.This is just based on my encounter today.
Being a politican must sometimes be frustrating when things can’t move as fast as you would like them to – and you feel the future of the world is at stake.
In view of the extent to which the Arctic is already melting, she argues for rapid adaptation as well as mitigation. There was a lot of discussion about her government’s insistence on carbon capture and storage as the way to make sure Norway can keep on using and selling its oil and gas while reducing emissions, given that this is in the experimental stage. Quite a few experts here expressed doubts. She is confident that the technology will work – and reasonably fast, although she accepts that there could still be problems. Of course this would allow Norway to exploit the rest of the oil and gas thought to be there in the Arctic. But the Minister also actually said the Greenpeace moratorium idea was worth thinking about.Well, well.
Our venue today.
At the moment I’m listening to a Canadian speaker, who is presenting figures on the huge extent of Canada’s Arctic territory. As he says, it seems amazing Canada has no northern University and no Polar Institute. Good luck to those who are trying to change that.
He finds Tromsö amazing, with such an infrastructure so far north and a renowned university.
Meanwhile Siegfried from Germany has visited the blog and wonders if there will be insights here into what way the new Obama government will go in terms of climate protection.
Well, there is no quick answer to that here, but expectations are certainly very high that a new President Obama will be a positive influence and have the USA sign up to an effective post-Kyoto agreement, and to several other international conventions essential to protecting the Arctic, which the previous administration kept out of.
DateJanuary 20, 2009 | 3:26 pm
What about a non-national ecosystem-based governance system for the Arctic?
This is the 3rd of these Arctic Frontiers conferences, and there is a very impressive collection of people attending from all the sectors involved with the Arctic. Politicians, indigenous representatives, scientists, students (the conference venue is after all the world’s northernmost university), business and industry, ngos and research organisations, and even the military. It’s a great opportunity to catch up on the latest issues, research results and policies, projects and make contacts.
Tromso has traditionally been a “gate to the Arctic“ for explorers. Today, it is still one of the most important departure points – and centres of knowledge and expertise on Arctic issues.
At one point I was sitting next to a senior manager from a major technology company, discussing climate change with an activist from an ngo. He said this is an ideal forum for him to make contacts – and to talk to stakeholders in the region and find out about their concerns and requirements. It’s fair to say all points of views are represented.
One of the major themes in today’s presentations and discussions has been the decision-making or governance issue with regard to the Arctic, against the background of climate change – which is no longer being questioned by any sceptics here. The Norwegian Secretary of State from the Foreign Ministry Elisabeth Waalers, who stood in for her Minister who’s gone down with ‘flu, is convinced existing bodies, such as the Arctic Council, are sufficient to govern and regulate the use of natural resources, she says we just have to implement existing regulations better. The EU is taking a strong new interest in the Arctic, and Joe Borg, the Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, put the case for greater involvement and a coordinating role. One argument is the importance of climate change and the Arctic for the planet as a whole.
I had an interesting talk with Per Berthelsen, the Minister for Finance and Foreign Affairs of Greenland Home Rule. He has no objections to the EU having observer status on the Arctic Council, but stresses they and other “outsiders” should listen to the views and concern of the indigenous peoples who are at home in the Arctic.
The USA, as mentioned in a recent entry, came out with a new strategy in the last week of the Bush administration. The US speaker here, Jim Slutz, was in a strange position, speaking on these issues on his last day in office. Russia will probably publish a strategy soon, but the deputy minister of Natural Resources and Ecology here made no secret of his country’s interest in getting at new oil resources.
Of course WWF and Greenpeace are here to remind us all that climate change is more than just a new opportunity to exploit natural resources. They are sceptical about existing mechanisms being enough. Lindsay Keenan from Greenpeace Sweden told me he sometimes had the feeling people haven’t learnt anything from the mistakes of the past, as there is too much talk of further exploitation of positive effects of climate change rather than proposals for action to tackle it. . Greenpeace has floated the idea of a 50-year moratorium on further exploration in the Arctic, given the background of climate change – i.e. the opposite of what industry and other players are planning. Sounds like a great idea to me – but I can’t say I’m optimistic about its chances of being implemented. But as Prof. Oran Young from the Bren School of Environmental Management, Uni of California, reminded us, we all have to do our bit to stop the Arctic discussion sliding into a “big game” for “big politics” and argue for a non-national, eco-system based approach to governance.
I could write a lot more but will leave you with this summary for the moment and open my ears to some more information, while I have the chance.
DateJanuary 19, 2009 | 2:54 pm
The Age of the Arctic online
For anyone who has time to follow it, the political speeches at this conference are being webcast.
The address to follow the webcast
I’ll be writing about some of the highlights and trying to summarize the discussion, but for the moment, I’m following the speeches and recording interviews in between.
DateJanuary 19, 2009 | 11:04 am
Age of the Arctic – Age of Indigenous People?
“The return of the Sun to Tromsö” was the motto of Sunday night’s get-together ahead of the official conference opening on Monday. After two months of darkness, the sun officially comes back on Jan. 21st. We sampled the traditional sun-cakes and cocoa, which go down a treat in the cold, dark weather. Actually, I haven’t found it too cold so far. Tromsö benefits from the Gulf stream, and after the very cold weather we had in Germany at the turn of the year with temperatures down to -15 at times, today’s weather here didn’t feel too cold, thanks to a lack of wind and the dryness of the air.
There were two excellent traditional musicians performing tonight, Sara Marielle, a Sami musician from Norway, and Sylvia Cloutier, an Inuit musician from Canada.
They are two very impressive ladies with very different voices, but in harmony with each other, they would say because they share the same environment. Sylvia sings “throat music”, quite amazing, and also dances with a traditional Inuit drum.
Paul Dahlö, Chairman of Troms County government, gave the welcome speech at the start of this 3rd Arctic Frontiers conference. He noted the increased interest in the Arctic because of the milder climate rousing high hopes with a lot of people of tapping into previously inaccessible natural resources. He referred to the current gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine, though, to illustrate how crucial stability is with regard to securing energy supplies. And that means governance of the Arctic region, a main theme over the next few days here.
There’s a considerable EU presence at the conference. The Troms chairman welcomed everybody, but I got the feeling it’s very important for people here to retain a strong influence in what happens in the region that is their home.
The other speaker was Steinar Pedersen, Principal of the Sami University College.
He is a charismatic story-teller, one of the people you could listen to all night. He told a traditional Sami tale which was all about not being arrogant but respectful towards nature. I interviewed him later and am looking forward to meeting him again tomorrow. If I had to sum up his message, I’d say it’s learn about sustainable use of our natural resources from indigenous people. And he calls for rules and regulations to be changed to allow them to have more say in what happens – and to share in any benefits gained from using resources of any kind up here.
DateJanuary 18, 2009 | 9:39 pm
TagsArctic, indigenous, Inuit, Sami, Tromso