CCTV America’s Elaine Reyes interviewed Kenneth Yalowitz, the former U.S. Ambassador to Belarus and Georgia and a current global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center about the current Arctic Council meetings. She asked him one more question about the importance of the Arctic and why so many countries are interested in the region. Here’s his response:
“To be perfectly objective, there are enormous reserves of oil and gas, something like one third total of oil and gas reserves in the world are in that area… that obviously whets people’s interest. The course of development has been probably slow because of the decline in prices and the surplus now of natural gas, but eventually it’s going to be developed 20-30 years from now,” Yalowitz said.
“In addition to that, with the ice melting in the Arctic Ocean, it means that new shipping lanes — they’re not going to be ice free, and they’re not going to be like the Panama Canal — but they will increase the level of shipping up there and there are going to be a lot of issues. There are no coast guards up there, and there are no ports up there. So the whole question of search and rescue, of safety, is going to be very. very important.”
Yalowitz also said fish reserves need proper management, more aid is needed to help the people who live in the Arctic, and global warming will also necessitate more action in the region.
“The Arctic is generally talked about as the canary in the coal mine. When things go wrong in the Arctic, the rest of the world feels it,” he said.