Climate change, a catalyst for Arctic cooperation

Source: The Hindu

Relevance: Importance of Arctic region for global climate

Synopsis: Apart from the geopolitical and strategic importance of the Arctic region, it is important for the global community to view it through ecological lenses.

Context

Along with the growing security concerns in the Arctic region, the region is also witnessing an unprecedented transformation due to climate change.

Arctic countries

There are eight countries that have direct access to the Arctic resources, i.e., Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States. In 2013, six Observers joined the Council, including China, Japan, India, Italy, South Korea, and Singapore.

Security concerns in the region
  • In 2007, Russian explorers planted their flag on the seabed 4,200 m (13,779ft) below the North Pole stating Moscow’s claims in the Arctic. This move was certainly viewed as provocative by other Arctic States.
  • The regional tension increased after the Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2014. Consequently, relations between the U.S. and Russia reached their lowest point again
  • Russia’s intention to re-establish the military might of its Northern Fleet also creates the security concerns and features prominently in the Norwegian foreign policy.
Must Read: India’s draft Arctic policy

Impact of climate change

  • There are increasing instances of extreme heat in North America, wildfire in Russian Siberia due to environmental transformation in the region
  • According to The World Climate and Security Report 2020, the Expert Group of the International Military Council on Climate and Security, or the IMCCS, ‘the Arctic is warming nearly twice as fast as the rest of the planet with consecutive record-breaking warm years since 2014′
Way forward

Given the significance of the region, the Arctic will continue to draw increased attention.

  • Apart from pursuing national interests, participating nations should also be concerned about the future developments in the region and their larger implications for humanity.
  • All the Arctic actors should have a long-term vision and strategic goals as compared to immediate short-term gains.

Instead of creating a potential battleground that is reminiscent of the Cold War, the parties concerned should utilize their expertise to achieve shared goals

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