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Exploiting the Arctic's resources

By Jon Snow, Tom Clarke

Updated on 30 August 2007

Jon Snow begins the Channel 4 News Cold Rush season as Germany and Norway discuss arrangements to exploit oil and gas reserves under the Arctic.

It's the latest move in a stampede to claim the massive reserves that are being made ever more accessible as global warming causes the arctic ice retreats.

The rush to access the the untapped oil and gas has been likened to a 21st century gold rush.

The Arctic region is believed to hold 25 per cent of the world's remaining fossil fuels and it is becoming much more accessible as global warming melts the ice.

As the ice cap retreats, it becomes more economically viable to exploit the resources.

Five nations border the Arctic Ocean: Russia, Norway, Canada, the USA and Denmark, through Greenland.

Under the UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea, they can each claim 200 miles of ocean as territorial water.

Earlier this month, Russian explorers planted a flag beneath the North Pole on the Arctic Sea bed.

The rust-proof titanium flag was an attempt to stake claim to the territory and its vast energy resources.

The foreign ministers from Germany and Norway visited the region to sign a scientific agreement.

Germany's foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: "The spectacluar missions involving the planting of flags is one thing, but we have international law to govern these complex problems.

"If all parties would respect this law, there would be no conflict over future exploration and exploitation."

Exploration, exploitation and protests over the loss of the ice cap seem at odds with each other.

Norway's foreign minister Jonas Gahr Store said: "It is a paradox, but it is the world's paradox because the world will need fossil fuels for the coming decades.

"If that is going to happen in a way that will protect the environment, we have to gett emissions down, and develop technologies that can handle that."

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