German gov’t adopts arctic protection policy

Xinhua News Agency | Aug 21, 2019 at 3:36 PM

BERLIN, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Germany would be taking a more active role and doing more to protect the Arctic, according to the guidelines of a German Arctic policy adopted by the cabinet on Wednesday.

"In the Arctic, climate change is no longer a future scenario, but a reality," said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

"Where there used to be ice, there are now stones and water" as the Arctic was currently warming up about twice as fast as the rest of the world, Maas noted with concern.

The German government considered the Arctic to be a region whose ecological, political and economic importance for the international community was growing.

"With the guidelines of German Arctic politics the federal government takes over more responsibility and designates clear strategic goals," noted Foreign Minister Maas.

Germany is planning to strengthen its commitment to protecting the Arctic by playing an active role as an observer in the Arctic Council.

The Arctic Council is comprised of the five states bordering on the Arctic together with Finland, Iceland and Sweden. The German government is hoping to send more experts to the working groups of the committee and announced that it would continue to co-finance research projects.

During a visit to Iceland on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had called for the careful handling of the Arctic.

"The price of doing nothing will certainly be higher than the price of taking action," Chancellor Merkel said.

Maas emphasized that "for us it is clear, we do not want competition for the Arctic, but more international cooperation to protect this unique region".

The guidelines adopted by the German cabinet on Wednesday stated that the economic potential of the Arctic should be used with care, "taking into account its particular ecological sensitivity".

"Although Germany is more than 2,000 kilometers away from the Arctic, its warming influences the climate and weather conditions here in Germany and worldwide," according to the German Ministry for the Environment.

The consequences of climate change in the Arctic would be dramatic as "glaciers are melting, the sea ice cover is shrinking, sea levels are rising," warned the German environment ministry.