Time to take action for the Arctic is now

An Expert's View about Environmental Technologies in Finland

Posted on: 29 Oct 2013

Sustainability and economic viability are required for the development of Arctic. Increasing knowledge of the conditions and verifying low-risk technologies must start now.

24 October 2013 Time to take action for the Arctic is now by Pauli Jumppanen The north has a centuries-old history in Arctic navigation and implementation of local natural resources. A major development came out in the 1960’s and 1970’s due to economic instability of the Middle East oil supplies, which made exploitation of subarctic and Arctic hydrocarbon reserves viable and politically acceptable. This led to the development of new oil and gas fields, both onshore and offshore, along with construction of roads and railroads, pipelines, marine transport facilities, local power systems, and other infrastructure objects. Due to climate change and proceeding sea ice melting, the Arctic has now opened up for increased oil & gas exploration and mining operations. These activities are supported by extended ice-free navigation periods on the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage, which also provide significantly shorter cargo transport routes between Central Europe and the Far East, as well as the eastern and western coasts of the United States and Canada. Improved transport connections also allow an increasing number of tourists to take opportunities to visit remote Arctic areas. Oil and strategic minerals are the most important Arctic natural resources both for their owner countries and, in the long run, also for the global industrial development. On the other hand, the Arctic wildlife and vegetation are particularly vulnerable, especially in the coastal regions, and major industrial projects may seriously threaten their ecosystem and biodiversity functions. Special attention has been paid to oil drilling in ice-covered waters, which some environmental organizations want to prevent totally. “Finland’s Strategy for the Arctic Region” was worked out in 2010, and updated in August 2013. It is reviewed in a separate paper of this publication. According to the Strategy, Finland works as an active Arctic operator fitting together environmental concerns, Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and private and public sector business opportunities. This is achieved by use of own technology development, international partnerships, and scientific co-operation within the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum of the eight Arctic states. Finland has a century-long history in Arctic navigation and decades of experience and knowledge in many fields of Arctic technology development described in individual articles of this “Arctic Special” newsletter. The shipbuilding, offshore construction and service companies form a major industry cluster, and it is of great national interest to Finland to work as one of the leading developers of Arctic transportation and maritime technologies Another major industry group is formed by the Finnish Cleantech Cluster, which comprises round 2000 individual companies, and has been ranked as one of the world's three best cleantech clusters by the International Cleantech Group. Many of its companies are able to contribute to Arctic activities by providing equipment and services for energy efficiency and renewable energy development, green construction, waste and wastewater management, ice and weather forecast, environment monitoring and data collection, oil spill response, and a number of other functions. Additional Arctic expertise by Finnish companies and public sector institutions is to be found in the fields of mining, construction, and forest industry operation. These areas of business commonly implemented in the subarctic region are forecast to expand significantly in the Arctic. Finnish operators are ready to participate in related international business ventures, both in terms of technology supplies and transport volumes. Sustainability and economic viability are the basic requirements for the development of Arctic natural resources and transportation. The activities will take up several decades, which leaves enough time to set up development priorities, to increase scientific knowledge of Arctic conditions, and to verify low-risk technologies for the operations. The time to take action for these issues is now. This Arctic Special newsletter published by Energy & Enviro World gives an overall picture on the development of the Arctic region. The next Arctic Special newsletters will focus on industrial sectors such as bioenergy and mining. The Energy & Enviro World (formerly Energy & Enviro Finland) has several respected partnerships. * Pauli Jumppanen took the Master of Science in Civil Engineering at Helsinki University of Technology (HUT) in 1962 and degree of Doctor of Technology in Materials Science in 1971. He has worked as Professor of Structural Mechanics at HUT, Director of the Structural Engineering Institute of VTT, and as CTO and VP for oil & gas and energy business of Wärtsilä Corporation. Since 2004, he has worked as independent consultanton new energy technology and business development projects.
Posted: 29 October 2013

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