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Climate change in the North Pole can be a double edge sword
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15:51, November 29, 2007

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Scientists have predicted that by 2070 to 2090, the North Pole area can be ice free in summer. Some are even afraid that by 2040, large part of the ice in the arctic will be melted in summer.

This will be a disaster for about 250 000 indigenous people such as Inuit people in Canada and Russia, Eskimos and Sami people in Russia, north Sweden, Norway and Finland. They might totally lose their homeland and life will be extremely difficult for them. But on the other hand, it sounds like a good news for ‘petrolholics' in many other countries, says Mr. Geir Westgaard, special advisor to the Norwegian Foreign Minister.

At a recent seminar at the Norwegian Embassy in Stockholm, Mr. Westgaard gave a special analysis on the European Security Dimension in the High North. High North refers to north of Norway, Russia and most part of the arctic areas which are very rich. One third of the fishes in the European people's tables are from these areas.

Mr. Westgaard said however, due to the climate change, the fish pattern has already changed. And the energy scenario will definitely change too. But it sounds a good news for the EU energy security because the oil and gas supply from both Russia and Norway will be enough for the EU if they are extracted. Norway's Statoil Oil Company and the French Total Oil Company have already cooperated to jointly prospect the oil reserves. American scientists predicted that 25% of the global oil reserve ought to be found in the arctic area. It means the petroleum industry is moving northward. The reserve was discovered in the 1980s, but only developed in recent years. That was due to the technology and climate change. Climate change is for real and it is accelerating. The oil exploration activities are also really happening in the field.

Mr. Westgaard said that on one hand, Norway is actively using its rich resources, but on the other , it also tries to be the forerunner of the world to find out a way to capture carbon dioxide, conduct separation of oil and carbon and produce oil without emitting carbon dioxide.

Meanwhile Mr. Westgaard said due to climate change, the navigation route for cargo ships or tankers will change too. Large multinational oil companies and big powers have already begun to think of how to transport oil to America or Canada by crossing the Arctic Ocean when the ice is totally melted.

"This is not science fiction, this is science, " said Mr. Westgaard. He said economic interest has driven people to think more about this, such as how to tap the potential and divide the benefit among different parties.

Thus while a lot of indigenous people will suffer from the climate change, multinational companies and big powers might benefit from it, said Mr. Westgaard.

By Xuefei Chen, People's Daily Online Correspondent in Stockholm

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