UK needs Ambassador for the Arctic – House of Lords

House of Parliament, London.

The UK needs to up its game in the Arctic or risk being «outmaneuvered” by other states, and should start by appointing an ambassador to the region, according to a report by the House of Lords Arctic Committee.


The Committee’s report, “Responding to a changing Arctic”, was published on Friday. It concludes that momentous and unprecedented change is underway in the Arctic, with temperatures there rising twice as fast as the world average. This will have a massive impact on the region’s environment, ecosystems and people and presents both huge challenges and opportunities.

The Committee says the UK has a successful history of engagement with the Arctic but concludes that the Government’s approach is too hesitant and cautious. Other countries are assertive about their interests in the Arctic and the UK should be too.

 “The Arctic is changing in front of our eyes. That change is momentous and unprecedented. It will bring both difficulties and opportunities and it is vital that the UK takes this challenge seriously and is able to respond to it,” said Lord Teverson, chairman of the House of Lords Arctic Committee, to the committee’s web site.

The UK should follow the lead of “competitor nations” such as France and Japan and appoint an ambassador, he said. This would enable the UK to co-ordinate its Arctic policy, help it to take constructive steps to preserve the region as well as helping to champion its interests there, in areas such as fossil fuel extraction and new shipping routes.

“Although we are not one of the eight Arctic states that are members of the Arctic Council, we are the next nearest neighbor, so we have an important role there geographically. We have a strong history of both exploration, but more importantly scientific research, so the Arctic is important to us,” Lord Teverson says.