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Arctic Ocean Trade Routes

Volume 673: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2020

7. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for International Trade on the development of new trade routes across the Arctic ocean. (901582)

Climate change is the greatest threat facing the Arctic, and it is driving other changes there too. The reduction in summer sea ice cover in the Arctic has the potential to increase international shipping activity in the Arctic; however, hostile conditions and the lack of infrastructure will make commercial operations difficult for a considerable time. The UK cross-Government Arctic network met in January and discussed issues related to shipping and environmental protection in the Arctic ocean.

There are huge economic advantages, particularly for the far east, in these lanes opening up, but that will come at huge environmental cost. Will the Minister explain what discussions have been had through the United Nations about how we ensure the protection and preservation of such an important pristine natural environment?

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. It is vital that the world comes together to take renewed action to limit global warming to 1.5°. There are 70-plus UK institutions engaged in Arctic research. The UK’s research station at Svalbard in Norway celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2020. We are doing a huge amount of work in this area.