EU summit in Brussels on March 13-14 will discuss climatic changes and their effect on the conflict potential.

EU summit will take place in Brussels on March 13-14. According to what information this newspaper has compiled, climatic changes and their effect on European security will be one of the central issues on the agenda. Javier Solana and Benita Ferrero-Waldner will make a report on the global warming and increase of the conflict potential in some regions of the world.

The report “Climatic Changes and International Security” drawn by EU commissars Javier Solana (foreign and defense policy) and Benita Ferrero-Waldner (foreign affairs) will be presented to the heads of states and governments of all 27 countries of the European Union meeting in Brussels this Thursday.

Sources maintain that the document is centered around the effect climatic changes are believed to have on international security in general. As for Russia, it is mentioned in the report twice. First, the document points out that the necessity to meet the challenges stemming from climatic changes compels the EU to take into account its relations with the United States, People’s Republic of China, India, and long-term contacts with Russia. Second, it emphasizes that the thinning of polar icecaps will inevitably cause geostrategic changes and therefore appearance of new routes and interests. As a matter of fact, Moscow confirmed its interest in the Arctic region last year. The Guardian reported yesterday that Brussels urges all European capitals to “plan in advance their actions in the days of a conflict over power resources” because “the global warning may spark a confrontation between Russia and the West over colossal mineral riches of the Arctic region.”

The document points out that the struggle over access to and control over power resources (struggle getting ever more vicious) may foment “serious conflicts” in the decades to come. “Rapid thinning of the icecaps, particularly in the Arctic region, establishes new communications and international trade routes… Better access to the Arctic hydrocarbons alters the geostrategic dynamism of the region.”

The Arctic region contains the second largest oil fields the world over.

Scott Borgerson of the Foreign Policy Council (Washington) suspects that the potential struggle over mineral riches of the Arctic region (nearly a quarter of the global reserves of oil and gas not to mention diamonds, gold, platinum, tin, manganese, nickel, lead) may deteriorate into another Cold War that will be different from the confrontation of the past century.

According to the expert, the past Cold War was essentially a confrontation between two world powers, namely the United States and USSR. It will be different this time, and the list of the involved parties will be more extensive. It will include several countries with borders in the region, i.e. Russia, United States, Canada, Norway, Denmark. As for Russia’s actions in the Arctic region last year, Borgerson called them a provocation. He urged the US Administration to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as a means that will enable Washington to defend its interests in determination of the continental shelf borders and therefore access to the wealth of the Arctic region.

NATO ex-functionaries in the meantime warn of the possibility of territorial conflicts between Russia and Norway. Needless to say, the matter concerns Spitsbergen that is suspected to have considerable oil and gas fields on it. Specialists warn that if the thinning of the icecaps makes these fields better accessible, Moscow and Oslo might end up at each other’s throats over them and that the United States, Canada, and Denmark might eventually find themselves drawn into the conflict too.

As a matter of fact, Solana’s and Ferrero-Waldner’s report is not restricted to the Arctic region alone. The threats the global warming may foment also include reduction of croplands, shortage of water, fish, and food, numerous floods, and droughts. According to Solana and Ferrero-Waldner, reduction of the coastline and disappearance of island states under the surface may result in new territorial disputes. Moreover, climatic changes may foment instability in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Once the report is presented and digested, EU leaders are expected to instruct the European Commission to chart an action plan for the future. Sources deny, however, that this is a prelude to appearance of the common EU Arctic strategy or policy.