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China eyes Arctic shipping

China eyes Arctic shipping

London: Global warming may turn the Arctic ocean into a new economic frontier, with round-the-year shipping being possible already from year 2015. Now, China with increasing interest looks towards the region. Arctic ice melting last summer was much more extensive than the models predicted. Some experts now think that a tipping point has already been crossed into a period of faster melting, such that shipping routes may open for much of the year, even for normal ships without icebreaker capacity, by as early as 2015, Robert Wade, professor of political economy at the London School of Economics writes in the Financial Times. China is especially keen to open the Arctic for shipping, Mr. Wade writes. The country has lately displayed special interest in relations with Iceland, the tiny island in the north Atlantic, which with its strategic location is believed to get a key role in future shipping in the region. China wants to start shipping containers in the north, and sees the deep-sea ports of Iceland as potential port bases.
China is also showing increasing interest in the Arctic Council, and has applied observer status in the organisation.
At the same time, concern for the Arctic environment is mounting. Shipping poses dangers to the ecosystem of the Arctic, with the biggest danger coming from accidents, because oil and other organic substances decompose more slowly in cold water and ice, and ice can interfere with clean-up. Also, emissions from fossil-fuelled vessels may cause greying of the ice cap, accelerating melting, the professor writes.  [21/01/08]

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