In the global race to utilize the planet’s remaining oil deposits, Russia, Canada, the United States, Norway and Denmark are all in disagreement over who is entitled to 1.2 million square kilometers of Arctic seabed surrounding the North Pole.
Why is this happening now?
Scientists believe warming could open up the famed Northwest Passage to year-round cargo shipping by 2050, as well as lay bare an estimated 9 billion tonnes of Arctic oil and gas deposits.
–AFP, August 2nd
All signatories to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea have ten years from the date they signed it to provide evidence backing their claims for the region. Since Russia signed in 1997, they have until the end of this year to back their claim that the Arctic seabed and Siberia are linked by a single continental shelf. To this end, a Russian expedition arrived at the North Pole on Thursday, planting a Russian flag on the Arctic Seabed while gathering samples and other data.
In response, Canadian Foreign Minister Peter Mackaye remarked on Thursday, “Look, this isn’t the 15th century. You can’t go around the world and plant flags and say, ‘We’re claiming this territory,'” Since Canada signed the UN pact in 2003, it has until 2013 to present its case to the UN.
Last Friday Michael Byers, the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia, told CBC, “…without a serious shift in political will, and an infusion of financial resources…Canada will miss its deadline in 2013. We’re talking about such a large expanse of frozen ocean that the actual technological challenge is comparable to a moon mission, and I’m afraid we haven’t done everything that needs to be done.”