(Nunatsiaq News, 5 November 2011) -- When negotiators from more than 120 countries worked last week in Nairobi, Kenya towards a global agreement to reduce mercury emissions, Parnuna Egede, environmental advisor to the Inuit Circumpolar Council-Greenland, was there to represent the Inuit voice in the negotiations. More than 700 representatives from governments and non-governmental organizations gathered at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi to discuss the future global treaty on mercury, which they hope to reach by 2013. That binding agreement would aim to reduce emissions of mercury to protect the environment and human health. “The pollution comes primarily from more southerly latitudes, where it is transported over long distances by winds and ocean currents to the Arctic, and then becomes concentrated in the food chain and ultimately to us. So we follow the UN negotiations closely, because the end result will have a direct effect on our health,” Egede told Greenland’s Sermitsiaq/AG newspaper. The most recent negotiations, which started on Oct. 31 and wrapped up Nov. 4, were the third of five sessions to address the release of mercury into the environment. That release occurs mainly from energy production and industrial activities, small-scale gold mining, consumer goods like cosmetics, medical instruments such as thermometers, and mercury-containing hazardous wastes from batteries and fluorescent lamps. Mercury is listed by the World Health Organization as one of the top 10 chemicals of public health concern because human exposure to mercury can damage the nervous system and cause behavioural disorders. When released, mercury persists in the environment where it circulates between air, water, sediments and soil. Mercury has toxic effects on humans and wildlife and can enter the food chain through contaminated fish. Almost all mercury found in Arctic marine mammals, seabirds and freshwater fish comes from industry far to the south, mainly from metal and cement production in east Asia, carried north by winds, ocean currents and rivers.
Posted 5 November 2011; 10:51:52 PM. Permalink
(Copenhagen Post Online, 5 November 2011) -- Profound environmental changes in the Arctic are creating new possibilities for economic activity in the area. This is most strongly felt in Greenland, which with its vast potential reserves of oil, gas, industrial minerals, and unique tourist attractions, is fast becoming a hot spot for foreign investors. Kuupik Kleist, Greenland’s political leader, said he expects foreign investors, including from China, to play an important role in the future development of Greenland. “I think that China together with other nations is taking a huge interest in the Arctic area in general and specifically in Greenland, and we have seen quite a number of visitors from China over the last couple of years,” Kleist told Xinhua in an exclusive interview Thursday. “We don’t really have that much co-operation for the time being, but I know that Chinese companies are showing an interest in Greenland,” he added. While Chinese tourists are already braving the Arctic’s icebergs and freezing temperatures to experience its harsh beauty, deeper financial co-operation is also underway. “Greenland is also showing an interest in China: my minister for minerals (and industry) and labor is going to China today on an official visit. I would see a future co-operation as a very positive one and we welcome the Chinese interest,” he observed. Lying high in the Arctic Circle, Greenland is the world’s biggest island, and is an autonomously governed territory of Denmark.
Posted 5 November 2011; 10:47:32 PM. Permalink