Climate change: Arctic sea ice is retreating, opening shipping lanes

Climate change: Arctic sea ice is retreating, opening shipping lanes

The Arctic is now open year-round business after a large merchant ship has sailed in North Sea Road From Jiangsu, China, to Russia Gas plant On the Arctic coast, for the first time ever during February, when winter temperatures usually make the glacial waterway impassable.

The tanker, which is owned by the Russian shipping company Suf Komflot, was able to Journey through Arctic sea ice Because it is no longer frozen all winter due to human-induced global warming.

Being able to undertake this voyage 365 days a year opens up enormous new possibilities for the freight industry that carries it 80 percent of world goods by volume and 70 percent of world trade by value. But it also raises concerns about how the scramble to take advantage of the new path could lead to the heart of geopolitics.

To get a better understanding of what this new Arctic potential meant for the rest of the world, I spoke to him Juliet Chaim, Senior Lecturer in International Security at Harvard Kennedy School.

In the Obama administration, Chaim served as the Assistant Secretary of State for Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, where she played a major role in handling major operations, including the administration’s response to 2010 BP oil spill In the Gulf of Mexico.

Kayyem responded to Twitter To news of the historic voyage of the North Pole Tanker, she wrote that this moment was “too precarious for you to get around.” To find out more about why she thought this was so important, I called her. Our discussion, edited for length and clarity, is below.


Jarrell Arvin

What exactly has changed with this news?

Juliet Chaim

In the past, trade had to operate in a way from north to south, just because the Arctic was never navigable. Ships can now go from Europe to China on the East-West route. It would put more competition on the north-south lanes to keep their business.

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Eighty percent of the world’s goods by volume They are shipped via shipping, so this is no joke. For 100 years, cargo followed essentially the same path through the Suez Canal. So, with days cutting transit time as well [not having to pay] All the taxes and fees that correspond to being a coastal city or a canal like the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal – all that will change.

Jarrell Arvin

How does this change, for example, how a Chinese cargo ship would travel?

Juliet Chaim

To do Europe alone, China would have traveled from the Netherlands through the Suez Canal – southern India, all the way to China DalianIt is their main area. Now if you look at the road, it is cut in half. Now, you can go the northern route, and the east down. It’s mind boggling.

Jarrell Arvin

Therefore, Russia and China are clearly interested in transporting goods via this Northern Sea Route. What other countries will be competing for a stake?

Juliet Chaim

Japan, Vietnam, Russia and almost every country. Australia will want to pass through there. I mean, why don’t they do that, because it’s so much shorter? Now there will be pressure and competition. Only you now [opened up] Huge and huge competitive market.

Jarrell Arvin

What about the United States?

Juliet Chaim

The United States, because we no longer really sign the treaties, it is not a signatory to Law of the Sea. But we are a member of Arctic Council, Which is a kind of custom purpose [international] A system for trying to tackle everything in the Arctic, from who can get to what minerals [how to manage] traffic movement.

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Jarrell Arvin

In your opinion, what is the impact of this new competition?

Juliet Chaim

There are two pieces: the environmental segment and the geopolitical segment. For the environment, this equates to the openness of the ocean. Water will move in ways it has never moved before. The ice is melting in ways that mean the water has to go somewhere, and this will lead to sea level rise, affecting coastal cities around the world.

The role of human activity in accelerating this change cannot be denied. Global warming has affected the Arctic in a big way. As I wrote for the Boston Globe, things started to change about a decade ago, meaning that countries were in a position to take charge.

You’ll start seeing cruise lines. It is beautiful there. That’s why even 10 years ago, I started feeling – expectant nausea is how I can describe it – my prediction because we knew that the opening of the Arctic to all kinds of traffic was going to happen, and nausea because there’s no doubt that human-induced climate change has had a huge impact.

Jarrell Arvin

So what do you think the future holds for the Arctic from a geopolitical perspective?

Juliet Chaim

You will have a lot of countries that have a lot of interest, without a lot of governance, and with a lot of traffic. And that, for me as a security person, causes a problem.

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Jarrell Arvin

Why is this a problem?

Juliet Chaim

Well, it does raise a number of questions that raise national security concerns. One of them, who gets what ways and when? And who will dig where? Suppose a group of geologists discover that there is a huge oil patch so far further that no country owns the well. So who’s going to dig?

Jarrell Arvin

As of now, who is in control of helping to manage these international tensions in the Arctic?

Juliet Chaim

These are the issues that the Arctic Council will have to deal with. It will also have to dictate things like offshore drilling, mineral ownership, traffic, and whoever starts first are all tough issues. Accidents are a big issue. What if an accident occurs? There will now be a lot of issues to be addressed.

Jarrell Arvin

Is there anything we can do about this new reality?

Juliet Chaim

I think this new reality will mean greater American engagement in the Arctic, so this will be a big test of leadership in the Biden presidency because this is an issue where we need a confrontation with Russia and China.

This would also be a big moment for John Kerry, who was The pressure for more governance in the Arctic Against the Republican Senate when he was Secretary of State and he was unable to succeed. It’s something Kerry has focused on for a long time. And now, in the environmental hat as Biden’s climate envoy, the odds of him accomplishing him are much higher.

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