Arctic Daily Update: May 15, 2013
The Senate resumes consideration of a water resources bill. The House will consider legislation under a suspension of the rules.
Arctic Council Ministerial Meetings 2013 (May 14-15, 2013) (Kiruna, Sweden). The Ministerial Meeting of the Swedish Chairmanship marks the end of the Swedish Chairmanship and the beginning of the Canadian Chairmanship. Arctic Council will hold its biennial Ministerial Meeting in Kiruna in the north of Sweden. Ministers, delegates from the eight Arctic states, representatives of indigenous peoples, scientists and observers will gather in Kiruna to mark the end of the two-year Swedish chairmanship and the beginning of the Canadian chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Many of the events will be webcast. More information here.
China Joins Arctic Council but a Decision on EU is Deferred. China is one of a number of countries that has gained permanent observer status on the Arctic Council. At a meeting in Sweden, the eight members of the Council accepted India, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Singapore. However following dissent from Canada, a decision on the EU's application has been deferred. BBC News
Arctic Council 101: Who and What to Follow. Every two years, the Arctic Council (AC) Ministerial Meeting convenes in a city in the host country. The last meeting was in Nuuk, Greenland, and Wednesday morning the AC will meet in Kiruna, Sweden. After the short two-hour meeting, the chairmanship will rotate to Canada. The entire meeting will be webcast on the Arctic Council's website. Alaska Dispatch
Joint Statement by HR/VP Catherine Ashton and EU Commissioner Maria Damanaki Regarding Arctic Council Decision on EU's Observer Status. Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and EU Commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries, Maria Damanaki made today the following statement: "The EU welcomes the Arctic Council's decision on the EU's application for permanent observership. The EU considers the Arctic Council a primary international forum for Arctic cooperation and looks forward to stepping up its engagement with the Arctic partners in tackling the challenges faced by this region of increasing importance. Further to previous exchanges with the Canadian authorities the EU will now work expeditiously with them to address the outstanding issue of their concern." European Union
Binding Oil Spill Agreement Signed. The Arctic Council is an international forum for discussion and debate on important Arctic issues. Where it's sometimes less successful is in reaching agreement. But it now has one more binding agreement to its name. The Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response plan-the Council's second ever binding agreement-was signed by all eight Arctic ministers this morning. In the event of an oil spill anywhere in the ecologically sensitive Arctic region, this new agreement is the tool the circumpolar countries are hoping will help them work together to clean it up. It sets out guidelines for things like communicating between countries, coordinating personnel and figuring out who needs to do what. Barents Observer
Secretary Kerry's Remarks with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Arctic Council Ministerial Session. Read out of remarks with Swedish and Russian ministers regarding the Russian espionage charge, observer status votes, and future Arctic policy issues. U.S. Department of State
Nunavut's Aglukkaq Becomes First Indigenous Head of Arctic Council. For the first time since the Arctic Council was created two decades ago, Canada is back in charge. Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, who is also Canada's minister responsible for Arctic Council, received the ceremonial wooden mallet from now-former chairman Carl Bildt of Sweden May 15 in the mining town of Kiruna, in northern Sweden. As the new chair, Aglukkaq used her first words as chair to remind her fellow ministers "the Arctic Council was formed by northerners, for northerners, long before the region was of interest to the rest of the world." Nunatsiaq Online
Arctic Council to Work on Black Carbon, Methane Problems in the Arctic- Russian Foreign Minister. The Arctic Council will work on problems of black carbon and methane in the Arctic, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. Speaking at the ministerial meeting on Wednesday, Lavrov said, "We don't sidetrack the problems of carbon black and methane in the Arctic. A final declaration due to be adopted will record the intention to create a target group in order to prepare corresponding agreements." Russia & Indian Report
Arctic Biodiversity Assessment: Status and trends in Arctic biodiversity. The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council has released the "Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA)," a report containing the best available science informed by traditional ecological knowledge on the status and trends of Arctic biodiversity and accompanying policy recommendations for biodiversity conservation. "The Arctic Biodiversity Assessment is a tremendous achievement," says Gustaf Lind, chair of the Senior Arctic Officials of the Arctic Council. "The recommendations will help shape Arctic conservation in the years to come and will prove itself an invaluable tool to the Arctic Council. The ABA articulates exactly how the environment is changing and signals to policymakers what needs to be done to secure the ecosystems and species that people rely on for life and livelihood. This is the information we need right now to help us achieve a sustainable future." The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna
For US, Arctic's Comforting Obscurity About to End. [Op-Ed] We now have a national Arctic strategy document issued by the White House. Of course, it doesn't say everything Alaskans had hoped for. But it is a big step, all very constructive, and an invitation to us to "put meat on the bones." As a resident of this great state, the potential of this subject strikes me as so important that we should focus on it while taking our minds off the narrower subject of our oil and gas economic lifeline. I believe Arctic development IS the future of this state, much as it surely will encompass oil-and-gas development for some decades. I am not an academic expert and I certainly don't claim to be clairvoyant. I'm just someone who cares deeply about the future of Alaska and sees the Arctic as offering us an enormous opportunity -- for better, for worse, or both. Alaska Dispatch
Greenland's Premier Boycotts the Arctic Council in "Drastic" Protest: Premier Aleqa Hammond wants vote, chair at the negotiating table for Greenland. The premier of Greenland, Aleqa Hammond said May 14 that she is boycotting the May 15 Arctic Council gathering in Kiruna, Sweden, saying several countries in the Arctic Council are opposed to Arctic indigenous peoples being involved in the high-level government negotiations within the council. Right now indigenous organizations, like the Inuit Circumpolar Council, sit at the main table as non-voting permanent participants during council meetings. But Hammond says until she sits down to negotiate a new voting role for Greenland, she won't participate in the council. Nunatsiaq Online
Bill Could Ease Way to Arctic Port. The U.S. Senate is expected to a pass a sweeping bill authorizing dozens of water projects Wednesday. Included is a provision that Alaska's senators say could ease the way to an Arctic port. The Senate agreed by unanimous consent - meaning the chamber found it to be noncontroversial enough that it didn't require a vote - to allow private companies to partner with the federal government in deep port construction. KTOO
Coast Guard Schedules Hearing for Kulluk Grounding in Anchorage, Alaska. A Coast Guard formal marine casualty investigation hearing is scheduled for May 20 at noon, at the Anchorage Loussac Library, Assembly Hall Chambers, to investigate the contributing causes that led to the conical drilling unit Kulluk grounding on Sitkalidak Island Dec. 31, 2012. The Coast Guard conducts investigations following marine casualties to determine the causal and contributing factors that led to the incident. This allows the Coast Guard to potentially save lives and protect the environment in the future by identifying what went wrong and how it can be avoided in the future. Alaska Native News
Climate Change Brings Disease Threat for Polar Bears. With its habitats shrinking and food supplies dwindling, the fate of the polar bear looks grim in the face of climate change . Now comes news that the iconic Arctic mammal may face another potentially devastating threat: it may be particularly vulnerable to new pathogens moving northwards as a result of warming. Diana Weber, who works at both the New College of Florida, Sarasota, and the American Museum of Natural History in New York, led a team that sequenced DNA from 98 polar bears in Canada. They looked specifically for genes coding the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) - a molecule found on the surface of cells that acts as a crucial component of the immune systems of most vertebrates. New Scientist
Cambridge Bay Gears Up for New High Arctic Research Station. Cambridge Bay is preparing for an economic boom, as it anticipates the new multi-million dollar Canadian High Arctic Research Station, known as CHARS. Even though construction won't start until the fall of 2014, people are getting ready for the influx of work and people. The station will be a world-class research hub located just steps from the hamlet. General contractors in Cambridge Bay are learning what it will take to build it. CBC News
Obama's Arctic Initiative is a Call to Action for Canada. [Opinion] U.S. President Barack Obama announced an American National Strategy for the Arctic Region last week. There is much for Canadians to applaud and to learn from this strategy, and nothing to fear from a sovereignty perspective. The Obama doctrine provides the basis for new co-operation with the United States on the Arctic, bilaterally and multilaterally, that will bring responsible economic development to our Arctic, and give substance to Canada's Arctic Council role. The Toronto Star
[Canadian] Federal Government Seeks Arctic Patrol Ship Costs. Federal government officials are asking their counterparts in Denmark and Norway for detailed costing information after concerns have emerged that Canada could be paying up to five times more than those nations spent on Arctic patrol ships. The Conservative government plans to buy a fleet of six to eight Arctic/offshore patrol ships in a project that will cost more than $3 billion. Another $4.3 billion will be spent for operations and maintenance over their 25-year lifespan, government representatives have said. Regina Leader-Post
Russian Language Expanding Rapidly in Finland. There are presently 62,000 Russian speakers in Finland. By 2050, there may be 240,000. The number of Russian speakers living in Finland could match the size of Finland's Swedish-speaking minority within 40 years. Russian could replace Swedish as the nation's second-most widely spoken mother tongue. In a decade, the Russian-speaking population of Finland has doubled and is expected to continue expanding at the same pace. The 100,000 mark is likely to be passed during the 2020s. Alaska Dispatch
Begich Meets with Commerce Secretary, Nominee to Discuss Fisheries Issues, Arctic Development. U.S. Sen. Mark Begich met with Secretary of Commerce nominee Penny Pritzker today in his Senate office, where he pressed her on the importance of sound fisheries management - noting that 55 percent of America's domestically caught seafood is harvested in Alaska- as well as Arctic development. As Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and the Coast Guard and a member of the Commerce Committee, Begich will play a key role in Pritzker's nomination hearing. Alaska Native News
No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.
Private Sector Transportation, Infrastructure, Assets, Response, Capacity, and Development in the Arctic, May 30, 2012, Seattle, WA. A recently-held Arctic transportation workshop in Iceland highlighted the need to better understand private sector transportation infrastructure and assets, recognizing industry's role in the responsible development of resources, response and supportive infrastructure. As a follow-up to its efforts to inventory and map Arctic transportation infrastructure, the Institute of the North is hosting a workshop at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, Washington that focuses on three critical areas: private sector assets and infrastructure in the Arctic, staging areas outside the Arctic that support Northern development, and vessels and technology that are difficult to map but need to be measured for future decision-making. Participants include industry representatives, technical experts, researchers, Coast Guard and other response personnel.
10th International Symposium on Cold Regions Development (ISCORD 2013) (June 2-5, 2013) (Anchorage, Alaska) The International Association for Cold Regions Development Studies (IACORDS) and the Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) will host a conference on "Planning for Sustainable Cold Regions." Special Keynote Sessions each day include "Bridging the Gap Between Climate Change Science and Engineering Practice"; "The Challenges of the Debris from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake in Japan"; and "Energy in Alaska - Current and Future Projects."
Hundreds of Earth and space scientists, students, policymakers, and industry professionals will discuss key Earth and space science topics that address challenges to our economy, national security, environment, and public safety. This meeting will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions related to energy, natural hazards, technology and infrastructure, climate, oceans, and the Arctic (see 6/25 forum titled "US Government Investment in Arctic Change Research"). The event is hosted by American Geophysical Union (AGU), a Washington, D. C.-based international nonprofit scientific association.
5th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations, July 16-18, 2013 (Washington, D.C.). The U.S. National/Naval Ice Center (NIC) and the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC) co-host this follow-on symposium to address the changing state of Arctic sea ice and associated environmental conditions vis-a-vis emerging or expected naval, maritime, and associated activities and operations in the region. Invited speakers include nationally and internationally recognized experts on Arctic observations, climate change, and maritime operations.
7th International Workshop on Ice Drilling Technology (September 9-13, 2013) (Madison, WI). The event is sponsored by the Ice Drilling Program Office- Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDPO--IDDO), International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS), International Glaciological Society (IGS). Following in the footsteps of the sixprevious ice drilling technology workshops held between 1974 and 2006, the Seventh International Workship on Ice Drilling Technology will take a comprehensive look a the latest innovations in ice drilling technology, including ice coring, borehole logging, subglacial sampling, core logging and handling, and field logistics.
The 2013 Arctic Energy Summit, October 8-10, (Akureyri, Iceland). The 2013 Arctic Energy Summit is a multidisciplinary event expected to draw together several hundred industry officials, scientists, academics, policymakers, energy professionals and community leaders to collaborate and share leading approaches on Arctic energy issues. Building on the work done at the highly successful 2007 Arctic Energy Summit and Technology Conference, the 2013 Summit will address energy extraction, production and transmission in the Arctic as it relates to three thematic areas: richness, resilience and responsibility. The 2013 Summit will be hosted by the Institute of the North in cooperation with local host Arctic Portal.
The Inaugural Meeting of The Arctic Circle, October 12-14, 2013 (Reykjavik, Iceland). The inaugural Arctic Circle will be held October 12-14, 2013. Subsequent Arctic Circle gatherings will be held in a different Arctic location each year, so that participants can become familiar with the challenges, needs and opportunities presented by these unique environments. The agenda for the first Arctic Circle gathering will include plenary sessions with international leaders on emerging topics of interest, such as: Sea ice melt and extreme weather; Security in the Arctic; Fisheries and ecosystem management; Shipping and transportation infrastructure; Arctic Resources; and Tourism.
Community Oil Spill Response in Bering and Anadyr Straights, (November 7-8, 2013) (Anchorage, Alaska). This workshop will bring together a diversity of stakeholders to advance a collective dialog to learn more about and respond to community desires to be part of oil spill first-response efforts that help protect food security and other local resources; come to agreement on the multiple roles local community members can play in responding to oil spills; and create an action plan for moving forward on this topic. The workshop is sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Arctic Cities, Global Processes, and Local Realities, December 2-4, 2013 (Rovaniemi, Finland) The conference is organized jointly by the City of Rovaniemi and the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland, Finland. The goal of the conference is to present the latest research scientific knowledge about the global processes as they become local realities. Even if the Conference is scientific in orientation, it aims to bridge science and knowledge into action by bringing top scholars to share their research results, and to organize joint discussion with the leaders of the Arctic Cities. Sessions include: Rovaniemi Process: past, present, future; Arctic responses to global environmental problems; people and extractive industries; tourism in the Arctic; the Arctic in global economy; climate change in the Arctic; indigenous peoples in cities; and, Arctic global flows. Cross cutting themes include: Arctic cities and global processes; management and governance in the Arctic; and, Arctic together with non-Arctic.