By Alister Doyle, Reuters Environment Correspondent, with additional reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Louise Ireland
12 March 2013
OSLO (Reuters) – A Chinese shipping firm is planning the country's first commercial voyage through a shortcut across the Arctic Ocean to the United States and Europe in 2013, a leading Chinese scientist said on Tuesday.
Huigen Yang, director general of the Polar Research Institute of China, told Reuters that the trip he led last year on the icebreaker Xuelong, or Snowdragon, to explore the route had "greatly encouraged" Chinese shipping companies.
"One commercial voyage by a Chinese shipping company may take place this summer," he said.
For China, the world's No. 2 economy after the United States, the route would save time and money. The distance from Shanghai to Hamburg is 2,800 nautical miles (5,185 kms) shorter via the Arctic than via the Suez Canal, Yang said.
Despite ice risks on a route that is opening because of climate change, shipping as well as oil and gas exploration and mining businesses are being drawn to the Arctic region.
Beijing sent the Xuelong across the Arctic Ocean to Iceland last year, the first Chinese ship to use a route between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans that was used by almost 50 commercial vessels from other nations in 2012.
Yang showed delegates at a conference about the Arctic in Oslo organised by The Economist magazine longer-term scenarios under which between five and 15 percent of China's international trade, mostly container traffic, would use the route by 2020.
Ten percent of China's projected trade by 2020, for instance, would be worth $683 billion, he said. "If the route is constructively prepared … then the demand is there, it could be a huge number," he said.
Ice on the Arctic Ocean shrank to a record low last September since satellite observations began in the 1970s. Many experts expect it will vanish in summers by mid-century due to climate change caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases. [more]
- 60 Minutes: The Age of Mega-Fires
- Altered Oceans
- Apocadocs: Humoring the Horror of Environmental Collapse
- Calculated Risk
- Carbon Based Climate Change Adaptation
- Census of Marine life
- Climate Change: The Next Generation
- Club Orlov: Dmitry Orlov and the Collapsnik Party
- Converging Emergencies, 2010-2020
- Crisis Forums
- Dead Trees ... Dying Forests
- Deep Into Artlife West
- Ea O Ka Aina: For a self-sustaining Kauai
- Economic Undertow
- Fire Earth
- Grist: A Beacon in the Smog
- Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
- IUCN Red List of Endangered Species
- Information Is Beautiful
- International Programme on the State of the Oceans
- Jeremy Jackson: Brave New Ocean
- Jim Galasyn: State of the Oceans 2011 pdf
- Lend Me a Looking Glass
- Love Salem
- Marine Climate Change
- Mess Time
- Mongabay.com: Tropical Rainforest Conservation
- NASA Earth Observatory: Image of the Day
- NASA Visible Earth
- National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center
- Nature Bats Last
- Only In It For The Gold
- Ornery Bastard
- Other Voices, Other Choices
- Planet3.0 | Beyond Sustainability
- RealClimate: Climate Science from Climate Scientists
- Shades of Green
- Wit's End
- World Catastrophe Map
- World Disaster Report