Controlar la fiebre petrolera del Ártico

VIENA – La rápida reducción de la capa de hielo  en el Ártico es uno de los cambios más radicales que estén ocurriendo hoy en el medio natural del planeta, con profundas implicaciones ambientales y económicas. Por una parte, estamos perdiendo uno de los ecosistemas más grandes e importantes de la Tierra. Por otra, los pasos noreste y noroeste, de los que se especulaba tanto en el pasado, reducirán los tiempos y costes de transporte en prácticamente la mitad, con lo que China y Japón quedarán mucho más cerca de Europa y la costa este de Norteamérica.

En lo inmediato, las vastas reservas de combustibles fósiles y minerales del Ártico se volverán mucho más accesibles. En tierra, los campos petrolíferos de Alaska y los de gas del norte de Rusia han estado produciendo hidrocarburos a gran escala por muchos años, pero las reservas estimadas bajo el Océano Ártico son mucho mayores. A los precios de hoy en día, podrían tener un valor de más de 7 billones de dólares, según las compañías energéticas internacionales; si se añade el gas natural, es probable que 10 billones sea una cifra conservadora.

Puesto que gran parte de este océano es de baja profundidad y se ubica en plataformas continentales, los países limítrofes se están apresurando a reclamar zonas económicas exclusivas en virtud de la Convención de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Derecho del Mar. También está aumentando la actividad política en el Consejo Ártico, entidad creada para facilitar la cooperación entre los países que poseen territorios árticos. Además de los ocho miembros (Canadá, los cinco países nórdicos, Rusia y Estados Unidos), lo integran seis observadores permanentes, entre ellos países de peso como Alemania, Francia y el Reino Unido. Ahora China, India y Japón están presionando para formar parte.

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