China, Japan and South Korea are among six countries that have this week been granted observer status within intergovernmental group the Arctic Council.
The organisation, whose only members are Iceland, Norway, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the US, has previously not allowed non-northern regions to join.
But the promotion of the three Asian nations – as well as India, Singapore and Italy – to observer status signals a change in strategy.
“There is no such thing as a free lunch”, said Norwegian foreign minister Espen Barth Eide.
“By becoming an observer you’re also signing up to the principles embodied by this organisation, and that is why we have been working hard to make that happen.”
Experts say 13% of the world’s oil reserves are found in the Arctic, as well as 30% of as yet undiscovered gas deposits.
The Arctic Council’s role is to collaborate with members on protecting the vulnerable polar region. Its decision to promote China in particular – a country that has previously signalled its intention to drill for oil in the Arctic – has therefore been questioned.
In September 2012, Christophe de Margerie, head of French multinational Total SA, became the first oil firm chief executive to publicly voice concerns over Arctic drilling. Another company, Shell, announced in February that it would be suspending all activity in the region until safety fears had been quashed.
The Arctic Council also put forward the European Union to become an observer, but the decision has been deferred after opposition from Canada – the council’s chair until 2015.
Canadian minister to the council, Leona Aglukkaq, said the group was created “by northerners, for northerners, before the Arctic was of interest to the rest of the world.”
Despite some members wanting the council to remain a narrow clique of countries that have territories in the polar region, Scandinavian members said in the past that allowing non-polar countries to join would only be beneficial in tackling climate change.
Like our Facebook Page
Can You Use Your PC In an Eco-Friendly Manner?
How Pain Management Hurts the Environment, and What You Can Do to Help
4 Countries That Have Banned Single-Use Plastic
What Is Your Carbon Footprint and How Can You Reduce it?
How Business Leaders Can Positively Impact Water Scarcity
Plant-Based Protein Coffee is Eco-Friendly & Healthy
Eco-Friendly Restaurants That Are Bringing the Outside Inside
5 Environmental Benefits of Custom Manufacturing
How to Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Office
Benefits of Starting an Eco-Friendly eCommerce Business
Brian Sheth and Sheth Sangreal Foundation Donate $15 Million to Global Wildlife Conservation
Eco-Friendly Gardeners Can Make Compost from Organic Waste
8 Great Tips to Find an Eco-Conscious Moving Company
Can Employers Help the Planet with Work from Home Policies?
Creating a Green Basement Environment for a Healthier Home
Switching to an Electric Car to Help the Environment? Here’s How to Find the Cheapest Insurance
More People Are Practicing Eco-Conscious Lawn-Care
Choosing the Best Air Filter as Pollution Levels Worsen
9 Tips to Write Stellar Papers as an Environmental Science Major
Why You Need to Know These Hard Facts About Ethical Investing
- Energy3 months ago
How To Choose the Right Solar Inverter for Your Home?
- Energy3 months ago
How to Choose the Best Solar Panel for Your Home
- Environment10 months ago
Importance of Using a Water Purifier in an Area with High Pollution
- Environment3 months ago
Reduce Industry Footprints with Sustainable Material Swaps