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Arctic countries meet on threat of global warming
HARSTAD, Norway (AFP) Nov 10, 2005
A group of countries which fringe the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea gathered in Norway on Thursday and heard that they must go beyond the UN's Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse emissions.

"We have not done enough considering the magnitude of the challenge," Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja told a meeting of the Barents council, which groups Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland as well as the European Union.

The Arctic's atmosphere is warming twice as fast as elsewhere on earth, and experts have warned that the region's ice could melt away completely by the end of this century, endangering many animal species and the traditional lifestyle of Inuits and Lapplanders.

The UN's Kyoto treaty commits 39 industrial nations and territories to trim their output of six greenhouse gases -- especially carbon dioxide -- on average by five percent between 2008 and 2012, compared with 1990 levels.

Its impact has however been limited, partly because the world's biggest polluter nation the United States refused to sign up.

But already, the Kyoto protocol "is not enough", Tuomioja charged. "We are already starting with the post-Kyoto issues."

Countries still dragging their feet, like the US, China and India, should be persuaded to contribute to these efforts, he said.

Sweden's trade and industry minister, Thomas Oestros, called on the other delegates to follow the lead of his country, which is hoping to become independent of fossil fuels by 2020, by developing the use of biofuels.

Conference host Norway, the world's third-largest oil exporter, also said the Kyoto protocol needed to be respected and that new measures after 2012 had to be envisaged already.

Norway plans to finance research into greenhouse emission recycling, and is currently studying the possibility of injecting carbon dioxide produced on land into offshore hydrocarbon fields, an environmentally-friendly measure which would also increase the productivity of North Sea oil and gas platforms.

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