Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 155

Underwater
The chief scientist then drew attention to the detrimental effects of CO
2
release that are being witnessed in the ocean, including oil spills and
acidification, which causes problems for calcium-forming species:
“Already now, the oceans are 30% more acidic than they were
before industrialisation.
“Another much-debated question about the Arctic concerns
contaminants, and there are serious problems for many animals and
birds in the Arctic, but so far … there are few effects on population levels
that we know of – there are two possible explanations for this. One is
that it is very difficult to document; the other one is that it has actually
helped to do what has been done since the Stockholm Convention and
many other efforts to cope with contaminants.
“Pollution from oil spills is another threat … and it is a particular concern
in coastal and marine ecosystems; on land, it is a bit easier to deal with.
One of the recommendations of the scientific report is that best practices
should be used and that oil development in the most sensitive areas
should be avoided.
“Taken together, the multitude of changes in Arctic biodiversity will
influence people in the Arctic, as well as the rest of us, in many ways,
especially [with regard to] indigenous languages and cultures, where
there are special challenges.”
It is clear that the entire Arctic region is facing a number of problems on
land, in the ocean, from climate change and from direct human
intervention. With a comprehensive report now available, it will be up to
policy makers to ensure collective action takes place and suitable steps
are taken in order to preserve this tranquil but inhospitable environment.
“For Arctic biodiversity, this has the special
effect that, due to the fact that the Arctic is such
a relatively narrow strip of land around the
Arctic Ocean … an ‘Arctic squeeze’ is taking
place, when species from the South move
northwards and push Arctic species more or
less out into the Arctic Ocean. Especially in the
High Arctic, species are at risk of being pushed,
squeezed out, so that the best chances of
survival are probably on some of the Arctic
islands, together with areas where there are
mountains where the species can move uphill.”
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H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
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S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : E N V I R O N M E N T
Increasing EU action
In 2014, DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in the European
Commission launched a public consultation on how to streamline
EU funding in the European Arctic. Whilst the Commission
recognised the Union’s co-operation in the fields of research, safe
shipping and reducing the use of chemical pollutants, the EU
institution is considering how to ‘further strengthen its positive
impact on the Arctic’s future’, working alongside international
partners. Such targets for action include working in a more co-
ordinated manner and ensuring that Union funding has the greatest
possible impact.
‘With the EU having invested over €1.14bn in the European Arctic
since 2007, next to the €20m per year on Arctic research and
considerable support in the form of the Greenland Partnership
Agreement (€217m between 2014-2020), the EU is a key investor
in the Arctic region. However, with public authorities facing
budgetary constraints and with less EU funding available overall,
also for the northern regions, the question arises if more can be
done to ensure that local communities and Arctic indigenous
peoples get more value for money in line with local priorities.’
The consultation ran from September to December; outcomes will
be made available by summer.
With melting snow and
ice on land, much of
the Sun’s heat and
rays are absorbed by
the Arctic Ocean,
leading to greater
temperature increases
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