Unlike Canada, Iceland seizes the opportunities that climate change creates.
TORONTO STAR / LINDA BARNARD
A sleek, contemporary portrayal of a Viking ship sits on the shores of Reykjavik. Canada can learn a great deal from both Icelanders and their Norse ancestors when it comes to boldness.
Michael Byers, Toronto Star, 28 October 2013
It’s hard to imagine Stephen Harper in an open boat, sailing boldly across a cold and stormy ocean in search of a New World.
The prime minister’s recent throne speech, which focused on cable TV packages and cellphone rates, was distinctly unambitious. It failed to even mention climate change, which scientists are warning could soon accelerate beyond control.
Harper’s “agreement in principle” on free trade with Europe was equally modest, just smoothening out a few wrinkled edges in a relationship long subject to the strictures of the WTO. It ducked the single biggest trade issue with Europe, which concerns the possibility of sanctions directed against the production and export of carbon-intensive fuels.
In contrast to Harper, Icelanders exhibit all the boldness of their Norse ancestors as they both confront the threat of climate change and seize the resulting opportunities.
Randy Boswell, Canwest News Service, January 29, 2009
The head of NATO has cautioned the alliance's Arctic nations -
including Canada and the U.S. - to stay united despite the growing
potential for conflicts among NATO members over energy resources and
shipping rights in the increasingly open waters surrounding the North
“Important changes are
under way in the High North which will have a broad impact on
international affairs”, NATO says in a press release. In late January,
the alliance will hold a meeting on its Arctic challenges in Reikjavik,
“The economic interests are
reflected in a growing global awareness in the region, competing claims
by relevant stakeholders, and resumed military presence in the area. As
it is a region of enduring strategic importance for NATO and allied
security, developments in the High North require careful and ongoing
examination”, the press release continues.
The Russian newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta meanwhile
describes the enhanced NATO focus on the region as a sign of a colder
political climate in the Arctic and believes the Arctic eventually will
become the scene for long-term military adventures.
“[…] It is clear that without the military component, the foreign
policy strategy of the alliance will not succeed”, journalist Yevgenii
Shestakov writes for the newspaper. “If it does not happen now, it will
definitely happen in the near future”, he adds.
Norway, which has the High North on top of both its domestic and
foreign policy agenda, has long advocated a stronger NATO presence in
the region. As BarentsObserver reported,
Norwegian Defence Minister in her recent speech to the Oslo Military
Society stressed Norway’s intent to engage NATO in the High North, and
to a certain extent admitted that the alliance now is persuaded to look
towards the region.
This week Norway and
Iceland signed a treaty which outlines the framework of oil and gas
exploration on the continental shelf between Jan Mayen and Iceland.
Norwegian minister of Foreign
Affaires, Jonas Gahr Støre, says to Fiskeribladet Fiskaren that Norway
has worked closely with Iceland in finding oil and gas resources on the
continental shelf. The treaty signed this week outlines an agreement in
the border areas between Iceland and the Norwegian iceland of Jan Mayen.
Iceland is planning to open areas in the north-eastern part of its
continental shelf called the "Northern Dreki Area", for oil and gas
– The treaty gives us predictability and a good framework for both
government officials and commercial companies exploring the area, says
A treaty from 1981 gives Norway the right to a 25 percent
participation in a limited part of Iceland's continental shelf. The new
treaty clarifies better the terms in the 1981 agreement.
The new treaty is signed only three days after the Norwegian Bank
gave the Icelandic Government a loan of approximately 1 million EUR.
The loan is a part of Norway’s support to Iceland in their struggle to
turn around the financial crisis the country are going trough.