Norway welcomes India as observer in Arctic Circle

New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) Norway hopes India will help find a solution to the fast melting ice cover in the northernmost part of the globe, now that it has got an observer status in the Arctic Council.

Norwegian ambassador Eivind S. Homme said Oslo, a member of the eight-nation Arctic Council, is “happy India has shown interest in that part of the world”. India has a research station at Svalbard, Norway.

The Council Wednesday agreed to include India, China, Japan, Italy, South Korea and Singapore as observers.

According to official estimates, the Arctic holds 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves and 30 percent of undiscovered gas deposits.

Homme said it was for the Council to discuss ways to find the right balance between saving the ecology and using the available resources.

Referring to the Indian station at Svalbard, Homme told IANS: “That is a laboratory to see what is happening on climate change. We all need to increase our research and see what is happening.”

The station is operated by the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research. It was set up in 2008.

“In general and with regard to climate change, India is a key partner (with Norway),” said Homme on the sidelines of an event to celebrate Norway’s Constitution Day Wednesday.

The melting Arctic ice has opened up the region’s waterways to commercial shipping traffic.

It has also made accessible the region’s abundant quantities of oil, gas and minerals.

Asked about global concerns on the rapidly melting ice at the Arctic, which scientists predict will be ice-free by 2050, Homme said the melting was happening much faster than anticipated.

Norway, he said, was naturally worried. In areas of climate change, India is a key player, he added.

The Council members are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US.

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