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Executive Summary for November 11th

We review the latest Arctic news, including the impact of the U.S. election on the Arctic, Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan and an icebreaking LNG carrier heading into Arctic waters.

Published on Nov. 11, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Election Impact on the Arctic

While it is still early to say what effect the election of Donald Trump will have on the U.S. Arctic – and the region as a whole – the White House attitude towards climate change, environmental protection and oil and gas development in the north will likely change.

With Trump in the Oval Office and a Republican majority in Congress, resource development in the U.S. Arctic could face an expansion – especially in federal Arctic waters, although the Obama administration may still exclude them from the upcoming five-year leasing plan, reported Alaska Public Media. The same could hold true for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where Republican leaders have pushed for development.

At the national level, big changes are expected at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In September, Trump announced his intention to appoint Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, to head the EPA’s transition team. As E&E Daily reported at the time, Ebell is “one of the best-known climate skeptics” who has called the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan for greenhouse gases illegal.

And as delegates met in Morocco this week to hash out an implementation plan for the Paris Agreement on climate change, they expressed dismay at the election results, reported Reuters. Trump has called climate change a “hoax,” said he would remove the U.S. from the Paris agreement and has promised to restore the U.S. coal sector.

Under the agreement, the U.S. had promised to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below its 2005 levels by 2025. According to one analysis, the U.S. has pledged to avoid 22 gigatons, or billion tons, of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions between 2016 and 2030, a little more than 20 percent of the global pledge put forth by all countries, reported the Washington Post. If the U.S. pulls out, it could temper the enthusiasm of other nations to stay the course.

In an editorial published on The Conversation, Simon Reich, a professor of global affairs at Rutgers University Newark suggested that the Arctic would be Trump’s unforeseen problem, or “black swan.” Arctic Deeply has also compiled a round-up of expert perspectives on the outcome of the election.

Canada Announces Billions of Dollars to Protect Oceans

Canada’s federal government has launched a C$1.5 billion (US$1.1 billion) plan to protect Canada’s three oceans and their coastlines from the damage caused by shipping and pollution.

The Oceans Protection Plan will include Arctic specific elements, including infrastructure investments that will improve Arctic surveillance of marine pollution, shipping accidents and the military protection of Canada’s coastlines, reported CBC News.

The plan will also extend the coast guard’s season in the north, as sea ice retreat leaves waters open for longer each year. It will also include funding to create a Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and seasonal rescue boat stations for search and rescue, reported Nunatsiaq News.

LNG-Icebreaker Sets Sail for the Arctic

An icebreaking LNG carrier has set sail for the Arctic from Korea, the first of a fleet of ice-capable LNG shipping tankers being built by the Asian shipyard for Russia’s Yamal LNG project.

The tanker is capable of traveling through 2.1-meter (6.9 ft) thick ice and can operate at temperatures as low as –52C (–61F), according to Korea Bizwire.

Although there are other LNG carriers in service, none have the capability to move through ice like traditional ice breakers, reports LNG World Shipping. The new design will allow the Yamal port to operate year-round without the need of icebreaking escorts.

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