US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Tromsoe in the Arctic Circle to see first hand the way climate change is opening a once frozen region to competition for vast oil reserves.
Experts here estimate the value of the Arctic’s untapped oil alone — not including natural gas and minerals — at $900 trillion, making it a huge prize for the five countries that surround the Arctic if they can reach it.
And with climate warming opening up some 46,000 kilometers a year that had once been bound in ice, the region is expected to burst open, not just with oil exploration but with East-West trade along a more accessible northern route.
“We believe strongly it’s important for the five principal Arctic nations to begin working together to make plans for what will almost certainly become greater ocean travel, greater exploration, therefore greater pollution, greater impact of human beings,” Clinton said.
The Arctic was a key subject of Clinton’s discussions in Oslo with Norwegian leaders who have been among the first to recognize the changing outlook for what they call the “high north.”
“I think we both feel we have a very important obligation to get ahead of that and to prepare for what is likely to come,” Clinton said at a news conference with Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere.