US urges more protection for Polar regions

Natural riches and environmental problems in Antarctica top the agenda of the two-week Polar summit which has opened in the US.

The host of the joint session of Antarctic Treaty parties and the Arctic Council, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, called for enhanced protection of the North and South Poles, Associated Press reports.

“We have no time to lose in tackling this crisis. I’m very pleased that the Obama administration has made it clear that we are committed to working with you and leading in our efforts advancing toward Copenhagen to take united action on behalf of our response to global climate change,” Hillary Clinton said.

Tens of thousands of people annually take cruises to Antarctica.

The US Secretary of State proposed stricter Antarctic tourism limits and urged increased environmental research in Antarctica and the Arctic.

The summit comes amidst the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty which regulates international relations with respect to the area.

Clinton said it could be a model for improved cooperation and coordination in the Arctic as well.

Among other things, the Antarctic Treaty prohibits military activity in the area, provides for freedom of scientific investigation and does not recognize, dispute or establish territorial sovereignty claims.

“The treaty is a blueprint for the kind of international cooperation that will be needed more and more to address the challenges of the 21st century,” Hillary Clinton said.