(Radio Sweden, 23 March 2012) -- Officials from the US, Canada, Norway, Iceland, Russia, Finland and Denmark will be in Stockholm to talk about the Arctic next week. When Sweden took over the Arctic Council’s chairmanship a year ago, expectations were high that environmental issues would get special attention. Partly because Sweden said they would. And partly because the country has no major vested interests – no Arctic coastline and no claim to the region's potentially huge oil and gas reserves. So has the last year lived up to expectations? When he began leading Arctic Council meetings a year ago Gustav Lind from the foreign ministry said there would a Swedish flavor to the informal organization of Arctic states in the coming year. Today he tells Radio Sweden there have many environmental projects and agreements on the agenda, and the group is close to an agreement on handling oil spills. Around the corner at the Swedish parliament, Bodil Cebellos from the Green Party says that if the Arctic Council had a flavour it would be distinctly oily. “I wish Sweden would use its voice to tell the other countries not to prospect for oil in the Arctic,” she says. The Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, recently said Sweden would achieve nothing from lecturing Norway and other Arctic countries with major oil interests. Canada, which has more than a third of its territory in the Arctic, is pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol and continues to drill in controversial oil sands. What impact can Sweden or even the Arctic Council have on the biggest challenge facing the Arctic – climate change? Temperatures have risen twice as fast in the Arctic than in other parts of the globe and the latest research suggests it will be ice free in summertime within 40 years. Annika Nillson researches Arctic environmental issues at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. She says the organization has succeeded in raising awareness and tackling some significant pollution threats to the region. However, she adds that when it comes to climate change, it has a limited impact, as the member countries have very different priorities.
Posted 23 March 2012; 10:43:14 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, ) -- The U.S. Consul General for British Columbia and Yukon thanked Yukoners with a bronze plaque Thursday for their help on 9/11 and the days afterwards. Two Korean Air 747’s bound for the United States were diverted to Whitehorse back on September 11th, 2001. Anne Callaghan said Canadians across the country opened their homes and hearts to stranded Americans that day. "The U.S. government has been presenting bronze plaques to various Canadian communities in appreciation." she said. “Neither terrorism nor adversity can conquer free people,” Callaghan said, “We are grateful to stand with neighbours who are willing to share the burdens of trying times and to work together for good. Our profound gratitude goes to all Canadians for the many acts of kindness and support rendered in the wake of September 11, 2001.” Callaghan just recently began her job at the U.S. consulate in Vancouver. She said she's keen to support the already strong ties between Yukon and Alaska. “One thing that's been very gratifying for me here is to see the extent of the cooperation between Yukon and Alaska, on the educational front, on the trade front, it's deep and it's heartfelt and anything we can do to help promote that we will.” Yukon premier Darrell Pasloski accepted the plaque on behalf of the territory.
Posted 23 March 2012; 10:36:07 AM. Permalink