Newsletter: Washing the Arctic Green

Russia cannot do anything but sit still in the boat. Being part of this game is up to others, says Russia’s Ambassador to Norway, Teimuraz O. Ramishvili. Photo: Jonas Karlsbakk, the Barents Secretariat

Dear reader!

During the G7 summit in Biarritz earlier this autumn, France’s president Emmanuel Macron encouraged companies to avoid using new Arctic shipping routes: “This route will kill us in the end”, he said, amongst others.

It did not take long before the French company CMA CGM heeded Macron’s words and announced that they will no longer use the Arctic as a shipping route to bring goods to the world. Later, a series of others have followed the example of CMA CGM and this week brought the news that Nike, the sports giant, has entered into cooperation with the environmental advocacy group Ocean Conservancy to initiate a global campaign against Arctic shipping.

Whether this is a PR stunt or based on genuine concern remains to be seen. Nevertheless, once again we are witnessing an example that there are more and more people who argue that the Arctic should be protected, whatever the cost.

Attacks Trump
Daniel Bjarmann-Simonsen, upcoming Regional Director of the Nordland Confederation of Trade, did not aim at the shipping industry in particular during his talk at the Industry 2019 conference. In addition to launching a full-on attack on Donald Trump, he went far in suggesting that the industry itself may be to blame for it being perceived as a climate offender.

- Young people have an uncompromising attitude to the problems we are facing. At the same time, the technology required by youngsters on climate strike is available to us. But we must get better at talking about it. We must shout louder and paint with a broader brush, he said.

That was a hint at Greta Thunberg and her climate movement, which this week refused to accept the Nordic Council Environmental Award.

Thunberg also embraced the opportunity to denounce Norway and in particular the petroleum exploitation on the Johan Sverdrup field on her Instagram profile.

Norway and EU fighting over snow crabs
The EU once again wants to issue 20 licenses for snow crab catching in Svalbard waters, in direct violation of a Norwegian Supreme Court ruling last February.

The EU argues that Norway violates the Svalbard Treaty because there is discrimination between Norwegian and foreign vessels.

Norwegian Fisheries and Seafood Minister Harald T. Nesvik is disappointed:

- I am disappointed that the EU repeats this action. An EU license is not enough. If you want to catch snow crab, you need a Norwegian quota, Nesvik says.

Disclaims responsibility for sanctions
During the neighborhood conference in Finnmark, Norway last week, Russia invited Norway to new economic cooperation projects in the Arctic. However, the Russian Ambassador to Norway argues that ending the sanctions is not up to Russia.

- Russia cannot do anything but sit still in the boat. Being part of this game is up to others. Those who started this have to end it at some point. It cannot last forever, there have to be some regulations about when this shall come to an end. Blaming Russia for everything that goes on in the world is stupid and not based on realities, TEimuraz O. Ramishvili said to High North News.

Liv Monica B. Stubholt is Chairperson of the Norwegian-Russian Chamber of Commerce and partner at Selmer law firm. She argues that it is timely to ask whether sanctions as a political tool work as originally intended.

Justin’s fall
In Canada, Justin Trudeau can sigh with relief. He remains in power by a narrow margin – though is fall from poster-boy to contested leader is worth noting.

The gap between image and reality has grown too big. Norwegian politicians may learn from this too. Too much political spin, too many arranged Instagram pics, and too many attempts to define what is politically correct goes to alienate voters, FNI researchers Andreas Østhagen writes in an analysis.

On different planets
We have also looked at the differences between local communities on either side of the Bering Strait. While the distance between the USA and Russia in many ways may appear rather enormous, there are in reality only five meagre kilometers – three miles – between the Little Diomete Island in Alaska and the Big Diomede Island in Russia.

In a thorough The Economist article, one takes a closer look at both similarities and differences between the local communities on either side of the Bering Strait. There are, perhaps, more of the latter.

It feels like being on two different planets”, according to The Economist.

We wish you all the best for this November weekend!
Siri Gulliksen Tømmerbakke
News Editor, High North News


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