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29 Apr, 2009 05:18

Petroleum pushes polar bears aside at climate summit

Ministers from eight countries bordering the Arctic and climate change experts meet in Norway to discuss global warming and the disastrous impact of melting ice in mountainous regions worldwide.

Moscow has put forward plans for the prevention of manmade disasters, and a framework for ‘search and rescue operations’ in the Arctic, but since the Arctic seabed has become more accessible, more countries are vying for the natural resources located therein.

Consequently, the right to claim the Arctic seabed and its estimated vast natural resources could likely overshadow the discussion of saving polar bears from climate change at the meeting of countries who are part of the Arctic Circle.

“Foreign Ministers will cover a number of issues including the claims to the Arctic, but this issue will not be resolved, it will need to be resolved by the UN law of seas,” says Victoria Elias, a Programme Director from WWF Russia.

Russia’s claims to a large part of the Arctic, which it believes is a part of its own continental shelf, have been the subject of a number of verbal disputes and environmental concerns.

“Our first main goal is to transform the arctic into a resource base for Russia in the 21st century,” said Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev last year.

The Arctic is currently projected to hold up to 10 billion tons of oil, as well as gold, nickel and diamonds.

In 2007, Russia conducted an Arctic expedition to look for proof to back its findings and hopes future expeditions will make their claim official through the UN.

The race for who really owns the Arctic is on, but it is only through summits and dialogue that the Arctic countries can set up a system and decide how, when and who gets what piece of the shelf, if any.