Arctic News Roundup: 11-17 January

[Photo by Marc Lanteigne]

by Mingming Shi

1) As the Guardian news service revealed in an exposé, clothes laundering in Europe and North America are the probable sources of microplastic fibres being found in the Arctic Ocean. As researchers have argued, this plastic pollution is not only damaging to the natural environment, but is also threatening the lives of local animals. Some specialists have called upon the clothing industry to develop more environmentally friendly materials, as plastics remain a serious environmental challenge to the seas in the far north.

2) The High North News published an article consisting four interviews with the representatives from several major Arctic conferences. The interviewees shared their viewpoints on the flexible arrangements being made for upcoming regional assemblies this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with virtual attendance now being seen as a more viable option.

3) The Economist provided a summary of the Kvanefjeld (or Kuannersuit) rare earth mining project in Greenland. The piece outlines the uses of the rare earth elements, the divided opinions about the project within the nearby populations, and the potential obstacles for the start of operations, given the misgivings about the mine in Denmark.

4) The Government of India has published its draft of the Arctic policy paper, the first of its kind, and currently welcoming comments and feedback on the document. In recent years, other non-Arctic states in Asia, including the governments of China, Japan and South Korea, have also published policies relating to the Arctic.