Russia opens Siberian pipeline to China as Beijing expands its influence in the Arctic

From: CNBC

  • The pipeline comes after China unveiled a plan nearly two years ago called the “Polar Silk Road,” expanding its campaign for influence to the Arctic.
  • The resource-rich region is at the heart of the geopolitical battle and struggle for influence.
  • As Moscow’s relationship with Western countries becomes more frail, Russian business leaders look for more economic opportunities with China, especially in energy.

Grace Shao

A new natural gas pipeline connecting Russia and China is the latest example of increasing collaboration between Moscow and Beijing in the Arctic Circle.

Iceland begins its Arctic Council chairmanship with a focus on observers

From: Nunatsiaq News

The current chair says the ‘meaningful engagement’ of the Arctic Council’s 39 observers is an asset to the region

By Kevin McGwin/Arctic Today

Iceland is seeking to leverage growing interest in the Arctic to improve the living conditions in the region through greater involvement of the organization’s observers.

“There is general agreement that observers should have some kind of meaningful engagement. The trick is how to do that. Iceland,” said Einar Gunnarsson, an Icelandic diplomat currently responsible for directing the work of the Arctic Council. “Iceland is focused on the council’s engagement with observers. But we are talking about two-way engagement.”

Is the Arctic Council a Paper Polar Bear?Podcast: China as a ‘near-Arctic’ state

From: High North News

With more meetings and reports of meetings, is the poster child of Arctic governance overrated? Has the Arctic Council become a paper polar bear – outwardly powerful, but inwardly ineffectual?

Last week, more than 120 Arctic experts and politicians gathered in the small town of Hveragerði in Southern Iceland for the first SAO plenary meeting since the Arctic Council’s passed from Finland to Iceland earlier this year in Rovaniemi.

Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Regulatory Resource

The Protection of Arctic Marine Environment working Group, or PAME, is one of six Arctic Council working groups.  PAME describes itself as “the focal point of the Arctic Council’s activities related to the protection and sustainable use of the Arctic marine environment and provides a unique forum for collaboration on a wide range of activities in this regard.”

PAME maintains an Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Regulatory Resource, which goes by the acronym AOOGRR.  The AOOGRR website explains that it is

“A Legal Regime Web-Based Information Resource

Why Is There So Much Oil in the Arctic?

Editor’s note: Live Science posted the above-titled article by Emma Bryce.  It reds in part as follows:

“In 2007, two Russian submarines plunged down 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) into the Arctic Ocean and planted a national flag onto a piece of continental shelf known as the Lomonosov Ridge. Rising from the center of the Arctic Basin, the flag sent a clear message to the surrounding nations: Russia had just laid claim to the vast oil and gas reserves contained in this underwater turf.

PAME II 2019 Meeting Report

The Arctic Council’s Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (“PAME”) 2nd biannual meeting of 2019 (PAME II-2019) was held at the University of Iceland, and the island of Viðey, from 9-12 September. Monday 9 September was dedicated to pre-meetings of PAME’s five thematic expert groups (shipping, marine protected areas, ecosystem approach, marine litter, and resource exploration and development). There follows PAME’s report on “Arctic Offshore Resource Exploration and Development,” one of the topics discussed at the meeting:

“First Senior Arctic Officials’ plenary meeting during Iceland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council places emphasis on people and communities”

The Arctic Council posted above–titled press release, which reads in part as follows:

“On 20-21 November 2019, the Arctic Council will gather in Hveragerði, Iceland, for the first Senior Arctic Officials’ plenary meeting during the Chairmanship of Iceland (2019-2021). The meeting will focus on work related to People and Communities of the Arctic. Iceland puts an emphasis on cooperation between all entities of the Council – reflecting the Chairmanship’s overarching theme: Together towards a sustainable Arctic.”

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Civil society and media freedom on agenda as Norway takes over chair of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council

By Thomas Nilsen

Norway will be chairing the Barents Euro-Arctic Council in 2019-2021. Sweden’s new foreign minister, Ann Linde, handed over the responsibility to her Norwegian colleague at the council’s bi-annual meeting in Umeå on Thursday.

To the Barents Observer, Ine Eriksen Søreide says NGOs, media and indigenous peoples can expect strengthened support.

“Norway is very focused on the conditions for civil society in the Barents Region. Supporting and strengthening civil society will be important during the chairmanship period,” the foreign minister assures.

Eriksen Søreide looks with concern to what happens with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the Russian side of the border in the Barents region.

PAME Website on Arctic Shipping Activity

Editor’s note: “The Arctic Council’s Working Group on the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) launched a comprehensive Arctic shipping activity database on February 7, 2019.”  PAME published the following press release about its site:

“The launch is a significant milestone in PAME’s work to improve knowledge of historical Arctic ship traffic activity and various factors that affect such activity, such as sea ice extent, meteorological and oceanographic conditions, and international regulations. The database will allow authorized users to analyze vessel traffic patterns, fuel use, and air emissions, among other economic and environmental conditions.

Arctic Council’s PAME Meets on Marine Sound Project

The Protection of the Marine Environment(“PAME”) describes itself here as:

“one of six Arctic Council working groups….PAME is the focal point of the Arctic Council’s activities related to the protection and sustainable use of the Arctic marine environment and provides a unique forum for collaboration on a wide range of activities in this regard.”

The PAME Working Group Meeting (PAME II-2019) was held from 10-12 September 2019 in Iceland. The meeting agenda included a discussion of PAME’s continuing review of marine sound, which includes “Developing Acoustic Intensity Maps for Shipping in the Circumpolar Arctic.”  The draft Statement of Work for this project states: