The once eternal ice mass of the Arctic is shrinking. The region is heating twice as fast as the rest of the world. In a few decades, maybe even years, the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer. With the sinking ice cover, the desires increase: In the Arctic Ocean hitherto unattainable fishing grounds hide, but above all, raw materials. Some estimates suggest that more than 30 percent of undiscovered fossil fuels, such as oil and gas, are located north of the Arctic Circle. Is that true, it's about many trillion euros.
Five states, the Arctic neighbors, have interests and claims on the Arctic Sea area for their geographic location alone: Russia, the US with Alaska, Canada, Denmark with Greenland, and Norway.
Due to the EU member Denmark, Germany is moving closer to the Arctic. In addition, the Federal Government is an observer to the Arctic Council, a body that promotes security and climate protection in the Arctic. The Arctic is also for Germany topic. For this reason, the Federal Cabinet adopted the Guidelines for German Arctic Policy this Wednesday , a catalog of demands and promises. A draft of the document is available on ZEIT ONLINE.
The Arctic riparian states
Five countries are lined up around the Arctic Ocean: the largest area is occupied by Russia. In addition, the US borders on the state of Alaska to the Arctic Ocean and Canada, Norway with the Svalbard Islands, and Greenland, which belongs to Denmark.
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Under the auspices of the Federal Foreign Office, seven other ministries have contributed their themes: Environment, Defense, Economy, Transport, Research, Food and Agriculture, and the Ministry of Economic Co-operation and Development. In 2013, the State Department had already published Arctic guidelines. After only six years, a new edition was necessary. Why?
"The style is different"
The 2013 version is subtitled "Take responsibility, use opportunities". The new guidelines are headed over by the line: "Taking responsibility, creating trust, shaping the future". It is no longer about exhausting economic opportunities completely. It's about the future.
The economic opportunities that seemed promising six years ago are now being recognized as threats to other areas. The focus of the Federal Government has shifted: "The new guidelines have a different connotation," said a representative of the Federal Ministry for the Environment and Nature Conservation in an interview with ZEIT ONLINE. "The style is different" - an urgent one.