Tensions are growing in the Arctic. The Russian military presence is increasing as China tries to integrate the North Arctic sea route into its geopolitical and trade strategy. Belt and Road Initiative, a kind of new silk road that passes through the pole.
Political revolution in Greenland to protect Arctic ice against Chinese expansion of mining
The European Commission, thus, is reconsidering the role of the European Union in the Arctic, and has presented this Wednesday a communication on how to address challenges in the region, and, on the eve of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (CP26), asks that oil, coal and gas remain in the ground.
The main objectives outlined in the document prepared with the High Representative, Josep Borrell, are: “to contribute to peaceful and constructive dialogue and international cooperation”; “adopt vigorous measures to address the ecological, social, economic and political impact of climate change and environmental degradation”; and “to support global, inclusive and sustainable development of the Arctic regions for the benefit of their current inhabitants and future generations, paying particular attention to the needs of indigenous peoples, women and youth, and investing in future-oriented jobs, particularly in the blue economy. ”
For its part, the European Parliament has debated and voted on its own report in full Strasbourg, after several MEPs have met with actors present in the Arctic in recent weeks: the United States, Russia, Canada, China, Denmark (which does not renounce its control over Greenland) and the European Union.
In this context, the last elections in Greenland sent a message regarding the need to take into account the population, 85% of whom are Inuit, among whom the feeling of independence from Denmark is growing.
The elections are raised as a plebiscite on mining in Kuannersuit and they left a clear message at the polls to international companies interested in Arctic subsoil resources. The leftist, environmentalist and independence Inuit party Ataqatigiit (IA), with 36.6% of the votes, reached a historic result with a clear position against the project: “We have something that money cannot buy, we will do everything possible to stop mining in Kuannersuit, “said the new prime minister, Mute Egede, 34, after forming a coalition government with other progressive forces.
“The recent elections in Greenland have a very clear message: they are not willing to turn their environment into an open pit mine, exploited by outside interests,” said Left MEP Idoia Villanueva (Podemos) during the debate: “Nothing It must happen in the Arctic without the voice of the people who live and live there. No decision, initiative of agreement, can be carried out without guaranteeing the fundamental rights of the Inuit and respect for their decisions. The European Union must be autonomous. Bet on the fight against climate change, local and sovereign development against the militarization of the area. We must value what has been achieved so far and increase efforts so that this strategic place does not become another black point of foreign policy Dialogue and the reinforcement of multilateralism is the only way to jointly tackle global challenges. ”
The importance of Greenland minerals is in the geostrategic spotlight, especially since China controls and processes more than 70% of the world’s rare earth minerals. The license to develop the Kuannersuit deposit was originally granted in 2007 to the Australian conglomerate Greenland Minerals, whose main shareholder is the Chinese company Shenghe Resources.
If the Kuannersuit project were to go ahead, it would mean that 10% of the world’s rare minerals would be mined in Greenland, the largest deposit outside of China. In addition, the consequences of global warming have opened the ban on world powers to explore new shipping routes that were impossible decades ago because of the ice, and to facilitate access to natural resources such as gas and oil that the Arctic treasures.
“A change in perception of the Arctic is urgently needed as increased international tensions force us to review our policy on the region,” said the head of the Parliament report, Polish MEP Anna Fotyga, from the ERC group.
Fotyga recognized that the Arctic is no longer a remote or inaccessible region and that it will play an important role in the future of Europe.
“The European strategy for the Arctic must reflect the new dimension of security in the region and the increase in geopolitical tensions, as well as include new players such as China,” explained the MEP. “Moscow looks to the Arctic for the long term, striving to impose a series of legal, economic and military facts. In this way, it introduces global tensions in a region that we want to preserve as an area of peaceful and fruitful cooperation,” he added.
The report demands that Russia respect international law and be aware of the consequences of its actions. It also says that possible EU cooperation with Russia in the Arctic should not jeopardize the intention to impose sanctions against Russian action elsewhere.
Fotyga stressed that it must be taken into account that the Arctic plays an increasing role in terms of trade, navigation, environment, climate and issues related to local communities, in particular, the Inuit. Interest in the Arctic is growing due to its reserve of rare earth minerals, which are essential for the development of new technologies, both sustainable and military.
MEPs acknowledge the risk of Russia and China exploiting the region without a proper environmental impact assessment. China’s investments in strategic infrastructure projects and efforts to obtain mining rights are a cause for concern, as they are reminiscent of how the country operates in other parts of the world. Therefore, the members of the European Parliament urge the Arctic states to carry out comprehensive controls on foreign investment.
China is developing programs to break the ice. The report suggests that EU member states and partner countries can build icebreakers under an EU flag.