Publications on the internet
Environmental Audit Committee - Protecting the Arctic - Minutes of EvidenceHC 171
House of COMMONS
TAKEN BEFORE the
Environmental Audit Committee
Protecting the Arctic
Wednesday 13 June 2012
Dr Cynan Ellis-Evans
Godfrey Souter, Ronald Allen and Peter Hinchliffe
Evidence heard in Public Questions 232 - 329
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
This is a corrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee, and copies have been made available by the Vote Office for the use of Members and others.
The transcript is an approved formal record of these proceedings. It will be printed in due course.
Taken before the Environmental Audit Committee
on Wednesday 13 June 2012
Joan Walley (Chair)
Mr Mark Spencer
Dr Alan Whitehead
Examination of Witness
Witness: Charles Emmerson, Senior Research Fellow, Chatham House, gave evidence.
Q232 Chair: A very good afternoon to you, Mr Emmerson. Thank you very much indeed for coming along. We are undertaking this inquiry into the Arctic and it is taking us quite a few different sessions. We are trying to get different angles and different perspectives. We are very grateful indeed to you for coming along this afternoon to give us the Chatham House perspective. Before we start our session this afternoon-and I will say this, both to you and to the witnesses who follow-we are looking to end our proceedings just after 4.00pm, so that might be helpful in terms of the timing. By way of an initial question to you, it would be really enlightening if you could give us your version of the politics of all of this, the politics of the opening up of the Arctic, the risks and the opportunities and the political landscape.
Charles Emmerson: Let me briefly lay out what I believe to be the salient political issues. I will start off with the international politics, but it is worth pointing out that, when it comes to a lot of issues regarding oil and gas development, a lot of the politics is not international politics. A lot of the politics will be domestic politics within the various states of the Arctic.
At the international level, it is worth pointing out initially that the international politics of the Arctic is broadly co-operative. That is a very important point to make. We have the Arctic Council, which is in a sense the premier governance body in the Arctic. All the eight Arctic states are members of that organisation and, of course, the United Kingdom and various others are observers. That is one locus of agreement. Then there is more or less agreement around the legal framework; the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which all the Arctic member states are signed up members with the standout exception of the United States. Nonetheless, the US recognises that legal framework as having the force of customary international law. More than this, on several occasions the Arctic states have got together-partly to counter those who would suggest that there is a legal vacuum in the Arctic-and restated publicly their commitment and adherence to the norms of international law in settling any disputes. That is partly a way of deflecting calls for internationalisation.
I am not trying to say that there are no political issues in the Arctic; of course there are. There are areas of current and future potential disagreement. There are security challenges and risks. There are areas of legal uncertainty. There is a risk that geopolitical issues outside the Arctic will perhaps play out within the Arctic. There have been in the past some differences between the Arctic states on the correct format for their meetings: should the Arctic coastal states get together, the A5; should everything be discussed among the eight Arctic states? There can be disagreements on that.
Q233 Chair: Could you give us a little bit of a flavour of where some of the tensions might be?
Charles Emmerson: On which point exactly?
Chair: In terms of the different states where you feel there might be issues that need to be flagged up.
Charles Emmerson: In terms of diplomatic and security issues, there is a nest of issues around the Law of the Sea, around the status of various waterways. For example, the Northwest Passage or the Northern Sea Route, there is a disagreement between states (including non-Arctic states) on the legal status of those waterways. Another example would be the Svalbard archipelago, which is north of Norway. There is a disagreement about the extent to which the Spitsbergen Treaty applies to the waters and continental shelf around that archipelago. These are areas where there is a degree of disagreement, but the point I really want to come back to is that the states have a capacity to resolve these issues. Indeed, they have a willingness to resolve these issues. In terms of thinking about the longer-term dynamics of Arctic politics that is a very encouraging fact and makes the Arctic very, very different from, say, the South China Sea or other areas where there may be areas of legal uncertainty or disagreement.
Q234 Chair: I want to ask as well about the issues that might come to the fore, which are separate from the Arctic, which other interested countries might have and which would be put into the spotlight as a result of issues about the Arctic. Do you have any comments on that?
Charles Emmerson: There are two sets of issues. One is that you have potential user states of the Arctic, for example, states that have a great interest in shipping. The question of whether the Northern Sea Route across the top of Russia is an international strait governed by one set of rules or whether it is an internal waterway governed by another set of rules, is an important question for those states-indeed, they are corporate actors-who might seek to use that waterway in the future. That is one set of issues where states outside the Arctic will have an interest, a very direct and clear interest, in how these issues play out.
Q235 Chair: Okay, and perhaps just comment on China and Norway as an issue.
Charles Emmerson: In the Arctic, something new is happening every week. In the last couple of weeks we have seen the Chinese Premier on a trip to Iceland and to Sweden, missing out Norway in between. China is a state that is interested in becoming a permanent observer in the Arctic Council. It did not visit Norway. There has been lots of speculation about why that might be. One reason possibly is because there is disagreement over how Norway could or should respond to the award of the Nobel Prize to Liu Xiabo, and the relationship there is perhaps somewhat tense. There are a number of states outside the Arctic that want to have a seat at the table, albeit a seat not on the central table but a seat on the outer table as observers rather than as voting members of the Arctic Council.
Q236 Caroline Lucas: Just a quick follow-up. You were talking about security and sounding quite reassuring in terms of co-operation being the chosen method of resolving any issues there. But I wonder if you could comment on something that I picked up, which was that Canada has carried out military exercises in the Arctic and apparently is in the process of spending $25 billion on 23 new Arctic warships. That is how it is put. Is that something that we need to be worried about or is that an overstatement of the fact?
Charles Emmerson: Let me give a counter-example. In Canada also earlier this year the Chiefs of Defence of the various Arctic countries got together for the first time. My concern is not about increased military infrastructure in the Arctic. It is much more about this being misunderstood or misinterpreted by other Arctic states. I believe that is a much greater concern. If one is talking about a greater presence in the Arctic, ships that are capable of going into the Arctic, I do not think that is in itself something to worry about. I think greater surveillance of the Arctic, which often is done by bodies that are associated in some way with the military-for example, the Coastguard-I do not view that as being a worrying thing, particularly in the light of the discussions between diplomats and, indeed, the militaries increasingly talking to one another. That does not exclude the possibility that a dispute far outside the Arctic, a dispute between, I don’t know, Russia and NATO, say, were it to evolve in a certain way there might be some knock-on impact within the Arctic. But I think the Arctic as a cause of conflict in itself is a pretty unlikely scenario.
Q237 Peter Aldous: As an observer at Arctic Council meetings, in what ways can the UK Government exert an influence on Arctic matters? Is there a concern that, as more countries rush to get a seat at this outer table, our ability to influence through the Arctic Council meetings lessens?
Charles Emmerson: That would be a concern not just for the UK but for the Arctic states themselves. There are obviously two different ways of looking at this. One is to say other countries, such as China, are going to exert political influence in one way or another, perhaps bilaterally. They are not in the Arctic Council; therefore, better to have them inside the room. The other, of course, is that they will somehow dilute the influence of other countries. For the UK, the key point to remember is that the UK is not an Arctic country. The UK is a neighbour. It is a good neighbour. It will strive to be a good neighbour, and good neighbours cannot tell the Arctic Council who they can and cannot let in. Of course, they may provide advice and support and demonstrate themselves as reliable partners in all kinds of areas, as the UK does, but it is very important not to transgress and be viewed as one of those countries that is perhaps shooting a little bit higher.
Q238 Peter Aldous: Is there a danger that if you are too intrusive, you will upset the Arctic Council countries, and, if so, what other means are there for us to play a role?
Charles Emmerson: In terms of this theme of good neighbourliness, one very, very important way of having influence in the Arctic in general is through science. The fact that the United Kingdom does have an active scientific community working on Arctic issues is very, very important. It allows Britain to have a certain presence in the Arctic. The fact that Britain has very strong bilateral relationships, for example, with Norway on energy issues or with Canada on all kinds of issues is certainly a lever of influence. One should not view the Council itself as being the only means through which influence can be exerted.
Q239 Peter Aldous: What other means are there of exerting influence?
Charles Emmerson: For example, through bilateral relationships. Indeed, there is an argument that one can make, which is that as the Arctic Council potentially incorporates more and more observers-if that indeed is what happens, and of course that has not yet been decided; that will be decided next year-there is a possibility that the Arctic Council becomes, well, a place where people meet and talk but is it a place where people have the hard discussions? For example, security issues are excluded from the Arctic Council. It is possible to imagine that decisions that touch on the strategic interests of the Arctic states are probably issues that several Arctic states would not want to have discussed in the Arctic Council. For the Arctic Council members themselves, as well as for the UK, it is possible that influence will be exerted more and more through bilateral relationships.
Q240 Peter Aldous: The Government has listed six Government Departments with some form of policy and responsibilities in the Arctic. You obviously have the Department for Transport in shipping, DEFRA with environmental issues and DECC with energy issues. Are we diluting our effort? Could we be a little bit more pinpointed, do you think, with a more strategic approach?
Charles Emmerson: I would say two things. All the Arctic states have clear, explicit, published Arctic strategies. There is a question about whether the UK needs one, whether it needs one at all internally or whether it needs one published. I think it is important to make a distinction between the two. If one looks at the European politics of the Arctic over the last few years, the European Union basically queered the pitch for itself by publishing strategies that did not really come through, giving the impression that they did not know that much about the Arctic states, had not consulted with them and were trying to somehow ramrod their way into the Arctic. Does the UK actually want to have a strategy that could leave open that belief in the minds of other Arctic states? I think the answer to that is "No". On the other hand, should there be greater co-ordination between various ministries on issues of common interest? Well, of course.
Q241 Chair: Can I just ask a follow-up? The Foreign Office operates as a lead on all of this. Do you think that that is adequate?
Charles Emmerson: I cannot see which other Ministry could possibly take that role. I would think that the question of leading is: are you actually the leader or are you the coordinator? It would probably be good for Britain’s Arctic influence if there were more people on that file within the Foreign Office. I know that you will be taking evidence from the Foreign Office-I believe, later in the year-and they can probably answer that better than I can.
Q242 Mr Spencer: There are a number of countries trying to get observer status on to the Council. I just wondered why you think they are trying to push their way on to that and what impact that has on the UK’s position.
Charles Emmerson: I think the short answer is they want to be involved because they view this as being an area of potentially very important interest to them. If one thinks, for example, about China, the largest exporter in the world, the largest importer in the world. China does not have a huge navy and basically relies on the good offices of the American navy to secure its waterways, so it is not terribly unsurprising that when it sees relatively near its waters a potentially cheaper waterway opening up, and a waterway that is more in the orbit of Russia, which may or may not be a potentially more friendly country, they are obviously going to be interested in it.
Q243 Mr Spencer: If I asked you to speculate, who do you think is going to gain that status as an observer and who might try to block them, for example? If we take the Chinese, how likely are they to gain that status, and who might try to block the Chinese?
Charles Emmerson: I do not have any access to any privileged information that allows me to say that with any certainty, but my hunch is that China will get in. My hunch is that other countries will become observers as well. The reason for that is because it will be known who has excluded them if they are not let in, I think, and that may carry with it certain costs. What may then happen as a consequence-and I hope this is not what happens but it might happen-is that some kinds of discussions will happen elsewhere.
Q244 Mr Spencer: What about the EU? Will the EU get a seat, or will somebody try to stop that happening?
Charles Emmerson: It is a very, very different set of issues whether the EU as an organisation gets in or whether China gets in. There is a real block for the EU, which is its policy on seal products. It is hard to underestimate the extent to which that is an issue that gets up the noses of representatives of Arctic states and domestic audiences, for which this is a very, very important issue. That is particularly the case for Canada, for example; also Denmark through Greenland. In a sense, that will be less of a geopolitical upset in some respects - after all, more than half the Arctic countries are already association with the EU in one way or another. I think the EU probably will get in, but if it did not get in, those would be the reasons why it had not.
Q245 Mr Spencer: I suppose I am just driving at is there a deal to be done here somewhere? Can the UK position itself to do a deal to maybe back the Chinese to reduce the black carbon in the Arctic?
Charles Emmerson: The UK is in a relatively strong position in having all kinds of diplomatic feelers and relationships all around the world. That puts it in a good position to broker all kinds of deals. The UK can play a role in bridging between some Arctic states and the Arctic Council. I think that is a useful role that the UK can play. As for a deal on black carbon, I am not aware of what the outlines of that deal would look like. The UK should attempt to be a diplomatic innovator and entrepreneur, but what they should not be doing is sticking their oar in where it is not wanted.
Q246 Caroline Lucas: There are growing concerns about the level of fossil fuel explorations that might be going ahead in the Arctic region. One of the concerns seems to be about the plethora of different regulatory regimes. Do you think there is scope for a single regulatory framework across the entire Arctic? Do you think there is a possibility of getting agreement around that?
Charles Emmerson: It depends on what set of issues. I think on oil and gas production that is pretty unlikely.
Caroline Lucas: Unlikely?
Charles Emmerson: Unlikely, yes. That is essentially within the power of the sovereign states themselves that exercise sovereignty over the areas where oil and gas might be found and might be exploited. I think a single framework with some kind of single body deciding what can and cannot happen is extremely unlikely. What is much more likely is specific sets of agreements on particular parts of the problem. So not on whether you can or cannot drill, but there has been a treaty signed on search and rescue, for example. There may be agreements on oil spill response. Those kinds of agreements seem much, much more likely but I really cannot foresee, for example, the Russians or, frankly, the other Arctic states agreeing to a situation where they felt that their ability to produce or not produce was fundamentally compromised by another state, particularly when it is very economically important to some of those countries.
Q247 Caroline Lucas: Bearing in mind what you just said about Britain or anyone else not sticking their nose in when it is not wanted, do you think there is any scope on this issue in particular for the UK to take any kind of lead around any bits of that overall jigsaw that you were just describing? In other words, if we are not going to go for an all-out single regime, if we are looking at different bits of it, do you think there is any area where the UK would be well placed to take a lead?
Charles Emmerson: I think the UK can be constantly holding the Arctic states to their promises on these questions. There is a longer-term relationship between Britain and Norway, and Britain and Russia, in particular British companies that may help to raise-not so much in Norway but more in Russia-environmental standards, raise respect for environmental norms. All that is possible but that is quite a soft and long-term process. In my view, quite a lot of that will happen through companies, not just British companies. There is a whole set of other things that the UK could do or that UK institutions could do, in terms of listing requirements on the London Stock Exchange, all kinds of things, but those are not Arctic-specific in any way.
Q248 Caroline Lucas: Can I just finish off by asking your views about some evidence that we heard earlier in the whole process from Shell? They were telling us about their oil-spill response plans, basically saying that they had not made any estimate of how much it would cost to clean up the Arctic if there were to be an oil spill. I wonder what you think investors might perceive, in terms of a company that had not made any kind of financial calculation of the impact of a worst-case scenario, and whether or not you have done any work to look at what kind of figures might be involved?
Charles Emmerson: I can understand why one would not produce a single number because, of course, a worst-case scenario might be absolutely appalling. Of course a worst-case scenario, by definition, is not a likely scenario.
Q249 Caroline Lucas: But it is a possible scenario.
Charles Emmerson: It is a possible scenario, but lots of scenarios are possible. One could also say, "Well, Shell is a very big company. It can self-insure. Therefore, it does not need to produce a number to go to insurance markets and say, ‘We want to be insured up to this value’", for example.
However, I think there is a more general concern that we need to see that companies have thought through unlikely but possible situations that could arise. They need to show a concerned global public, in some respects, what they would do if something went wrong and how they are going to avoid something going wrong in the first place. That is important not just from an environmental perspective; of course it is very important for that reason, but there is also a massive reputational risk to a company that screws up in the Arctic and that risk, indeed, is not only for that company it is actually for the whole industry. Perhaps the companies need to be aware, and perhaps made aware in some instances, that there are reputational risks that are allied with this set of issues and those reputational risks could bring with them a very great cost. Perhaps that is more about educating investors or insurance companies or other bodies than it is about the companies themselves.
Q250 Caroline Lucas: Just one last tiny bit; the Chatham House report I think says that infrastructure and capability to manage accidents may be distant or unavailable. That sounds alarming to me.
Charles Emmerson: It is a different story in different parts of the Arctic. Some parts of the Arctic, in terms of oil and gas development, what we are talking about in, for example, the Barents Sea, is an area of very dense oil and gas production migrating north. There are gaps, of course, but not a huge gap there. There are other areas where there are more gaps because it is an entirely new area. It may be-and in fact it probably is-the case that the potential for large discoveries is so great in some parts of the Arctic that it would be worth putting in very, very expensive infrastructure, which would probably need to go in anyway, in the form of the pipelines, but additional infrastructure from a safety perspective. It is worth putting that in to be able to exploit this resource, which may be worth a lot of money. That is all well and good, but then we need to make sure that that infrastructure is indeed put in and the preparations are there if something went wrong.
Q251 Chair: Finally, you have talked about the possibility of infrastructure, which I suppose would be physical infrastructure, which would be needed in those set of circumstances. I think in your answers we have covered quite a large area of issues to do with regulation or issues to do with disputes, which might involve maritime issues. I just wonder, from Chatham House’s perspective, what kind of diplomatic infrastructure might be needed to address each of the different potential risks, if I can put it that way. Is there anything that you feel that we have not quite covered, that would have the unique perspective of Chatham House, in terms of what could really help address some of the issues we will be confronting in the next 10, 20 years?
Charles Emmerson: I would come back to the central question of the Arctic Council. For me that is really the key body. If you think about where it has come from only a few years ago, it has really developed quite extraordinarily. I think the support that the United Kingdom can provide to that body, and the encouragement that it can provide to that body becoming a serious player in Arctic governance issues, is very, very worthwhile.
Q252 Chair: Just to press you on that, what specific steps could the UK most helpfully take in order to be able to make sure that from where it has come from to here it could be absolutely fit-for-purpose for the challenges ahead in the next few years?
Charles Emmerson: It is difficult because its structure is going to be determined mostly by its voting members rather than by the observer states.
Q254 Chair: Sure, but if we are a good neighbour, as you say-
Charles Emmerson: But as a good neighbour, for example, there will be working groups on all sets of issues. It is good if the UK takes a lead in as many of those as it can.
Q255 Chair: Which ones would you itemise for priority?
Charles Emmerson: I am not thinking of issues specifically at the moment. I am thinking about going forward. Britain makes a tremendous investment in Arctic science and I hope that that is maintained and continued. I think a similar investment in Arctic diplomacy, essentially supportive, would be a good investment for the UK in an area of growing global importance which the UK has a strong interest in seeing maintained as stable, safe and prosperous.
Chair: Okay, on that point I think we will leave it. Can I thank you once again for coming along this afternoon? Thank you very much indeed.
Examination of Witness
Witness: Dr Cynan Ellis-Evans, Head of the Arctic Office, British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, gave evidence.
Q256 Chair: Dr Cynan Ellis-Evans, can I thank you for coming along this afternoon? I think that you have just heard the previous session. What we really want to do is to carry on where we just left off, in fact, because we were very much on to the issue of research and so on. To do that, I would like to turn straightaway to my colleague Martin Caton, if I may.
Q257 Martin Caton: What is the focus of the NERC research in the Arctic?
Dr Ellis-Evans: Well, NERC is concerned with environmental science in most of its forms, and it expresses it there through the funding of a variety of curiosity-driven projects in the Arctic. It has done that for many years. It also has a particular focus at the moment on looking at the exam question which is essentially there: what is behind the rapid changes we are seeing in the Arctic at the moment? Can we develop more realistic predictions of the changes occurring in timeframes that are relevant to stakeholders? We would be looking at anything from months up to decades. In looking at that, that still gives us a very broad range of items that we could cover.
That then brings another issue for us as to the fact that we are a nation that sits outside the Arctic Rim, and the Arctic Rim nations have been asking those questions for some time. They have a lot of investment in it, because it is their own ground they are looking at. Also, there are practical difficulties with working in the Arctic that cannot be underestimated. It makes it very difficult to do science. Those issues have also had to come into play as to how we decide on what science we are going to address. We have particular expertise in the UK in certain areas of science. Those would allow us to have a very high profile in any Arctic science that we undertake.
We have linkages as well with a number of nations internationally and also at the bilateral level with people like Norway and Canada. On the basis of that, we have come down to funding a £15 million programme which is the largest thematic programme that NERC has ever funded. It is a measure of how seriously we take the Arctic. There are four areas that we are addressing. One is understanding and attributing the current rapid changes in the Arctic. These will be terrestrial, marine, atmospheric, the sea-ice story-also, looking at the bio-geochemical element, so we want to quantify the processes that are behind the release of methane and CO2 to the atmosphere and how that would feed into models. We put those two elements together, which have quite a strong field component and we have very good expertise in that fieldwork, to then look at it from a modelling point of view, bring that in and try to reduce the uncertainties that we currently see in models of Arctic climate and its associated bio-geochemical cycling.
As a final point, we have recognised that there are some threats associated with climate change in the Arctic. One of those is the possible instability of sediments due to ocean warming, which could cause a slide at some point and potentially a tsunami that could sweep down through the North Sea. There is evidence that this sort of thing has happened on a smaller scale in the past. We can use some of the modelling that we are doing to assist the process of assessment.
Q258 Martin Caton: How does your research programme differ from or perhaps complement the work of the Hadley Centre at the Met Office?
Dr Ellis-Evans: I think you have the right word; it is complementary. The Hadley Centre is looking at global-scale modelling. It puts in lots of regional units, including the Arctic, but its focus is on these very large models. Our emphasis is on much more detailed regional models relating to particular aspects of the environment and taking those models to contribute, we would hope, to the Hadley Centre’s work. We have Hadley Centre researchers involved in our projects already, but we would look to see the Hadley Centre as one of our primary customers when we come to delivering outputs from the programme.
Q259 Martin Caton: In your written submission you said that very little is known about Arctic ecosystems. Is the research that you have just outlined going to address that state of ignorance?
Dr Ellis-Evans: No, it is not going to address that. That remark reflects the broad interests of NERC environmental science, but in this particular programme we are focusing on areas where we can have an immediate impact and feed into a number of other programmes. We are going to be doing some work on the ecosystems, but it is at very much the bottom end. The microbial bio-geochemical cycling is our focus. To undertake work on Arctic ecosystems would be another similar-sized programme, multidisciplinary and covering a large range of options as well as bringing in the work that we are doing. We think that understanding the environment that is influencing ecosystems is going to be a very important starting point. Arctic ecosystem research is a sensible step forward, but this will be another programme in a few years’ time that I am very interested in seeing happen.
Q260 Martin Caton: I take your point but, at a time in history where there were increased risks, surely a starting point is to know the state of the ecosystem so that you can measure impacts or guard against them.
Dr Ellis-Evans: Yes, but if you are going to study the ecosystem you need to understand the environment that is around it. We actually do not have that level of understanding of the environment itself. If you were going to study any system, the first thing you do is look at the parameters that are governing that system. That is first principles, really, for us. Once we have that understanding, we are better placed to do the work on the ecosystem. That is not to say that ecosystem research is not being undertaken. A number of countries that we have links with are undertaking that work at this time. I do think, though, that the UK is in a position to contribute to that work in future.
Q261 Martin Caton: We have had some evidence about the effectiveness of various techniques for dealing with an oil spill in the Arctic. Is this something that you are looking at?
Dr Ellis-Evans: Again, no, it is not the area for us. But if, for instance, you wanted to model the distribution of oil spill under sea ice, one of the sensible ways to do it would be to actually go under the ice with an autonomous vehicle and to scan and build up a three-dimensional model of that. In that three-dimensional model you could then model the movement of oil spills more effectively. While oil spill work itself is not, per se, what NERC does, that mapping of the under-ice-we have done some of it already-is the sort of thing we could do more of, and you can see that is where we could contribute to an oil-spill programme.
Q262 Martin Caton: We have been told that Canada and Norway use funds from the oil industry to undertake research into dealing with blowouts and oil spills. Is that something that we should be looking at doing?
Dr Ellis-Evans: Well, it is not something that you rule out. In fact, on Monday, I was at Shell, across the Thames from Parliament, talking to them on exactly these sorts of points about how we could work in conjunction with them. They need information on how climate is going to change; how the environment around their operations is going to change in the relatively short term. Where are the instabilities in those weather conditions? We can help them with that. At the same time, I am very interested in the fact that they have large data sets themselves and we would like to have access. In fact, they are now offering us that access in the near future. We see that there is room for a relationship. How might that be funded in the future? It does not need to be at the moment. I would have thought that there are grounds for doing it but it needs to be done in a sensible way.
Q263 Dr Whitehead: The five-year programme that you have mentioned is now under way. It is worth £15 million.
Dr Ellis-Evans: Yes.
Q264 Dr Whitehead: You have mentioned the main areas that it is concentrating on. How does that differ in terms of what was there before in resources? How much of a fresh start is this or how much of it is a continuation of what has gone on before?
Dr Ellis-Evans: To an extent, of course, it is building on what has been before because that is the way the science progresses. But this is a big jump, a very substantial jump. I can remember us getting funding from NERC for terrestrial studies in the late 1980s, early 1990s. Around £1 million, if I recall rightly, for terrestrial and zoological research. You come to 2000, there was a major programme called ARCICE: around £3 million to look at the effect of sea ice on ocean currents, for instance.
In the International Polar Year there was a particular enthusiasm associated with that massive event. In fact, we were the first country to officially fund projects in the Arctic. We funded four major projects, I think worth £4.7 million, which contributed to the IPY. A lot of the outcomes from those four projects have helped us to devise what we are doing now with this new programme. But here we are with £15 million and, in fact, I have now added another four projects affiliated to it, so we have added about another £2 million in funding and resources, which we can share. The programme is getting somewhat bigger in that respect.
On top of that, if you look back through responsive mode funding, the curiosity-driven research over the years, if you go back a decade, NERC was probably spending about £1 million a year. We are now spending closer to £5 million a year. There is a major enthusiasm that has come through the IPY. There is a growing awareness of the Arctic and its importance, and all of this has been seen by the scientists and they are bidding into the system.
Q265 Dr Whitehead: Despite that, we heard from Professor Wadhams of Cambridge earlier on, who said that in his view NERC does not really have an Arctic strategy. I think he distinguished the question of an Arctic strategy from particular issues of concentration. He also talked about the fact that one should do a lot more on Arctic technology as well as Arctic science. He particularly drew attention to what he stated was a negative response from NERC, and he gave an example of using submarines to measure ice-sheet thickness. What is your response to those points?
Dr Ellis-Evans: There are two points you are raising, including one about strategic approach. We do not have an official strategic document for NERC for the Arctic as a whole. What we have done is looked across the whole range of research that was done within NERC over recent years, and the strategy of Next Generation Science for Planet Earth has seven themes. Four of those strongly identified the Arctic as a key area that they wished to invest in, so a very substantial part of their programme. We have taken that on board. There have also been at least three significant reports generated not just on the context of Arctic research but also its priorities. Those, coupled with these other elements, have brought us to the point where we can focus on some issues through the Arctic Research Programme, which we feel are going to have a significant effect. I think we are taking a strategic view; there just is not necessarily an Arctic strategy document out there at the moment. As I said at the start, we have to make a balance of what we can afford to do and how best to make an impact in this quite crowded area in terms of nations.
On the second issue of submarines, US and UK nuclear submarines have had a fundamentally important role in understanding ice thickness over the years. There is no denying that. At one point in time, they were more or less the only way to get any sort of reliable results. At this point in time, you would have to say that we can now do rather more than just ice thickness with submarines. There are oceanographic data sets available from the submarines. In the Arctic Research Programme, we have an entire project focusing on using the oceanographic data from Her Majesty’s submarines. It is not that we are not interested in submarines, but the case comes down to the fact that if you are putting in proposals on submarine-based research, it will be considered by NERC. Every research application going into NERC has to go through an international peer review process. You then have to make decisions on what are the best projects. I have to say it is incredibly competitive now. There is not an issue in terms of whether you can get funding for submarine research.
The other thing that has come through, as well as the fact that we are using submarines, is that we have come up with new ways of being able to access the data without compromising where the submarines have tracked in the past. We can now take that data out and it cannot be rebuilt. The Royal Navy is building a much better relationship with us to access their data, so I think we will do better from them in the future. There is also the CryoSat satellite, which is specifically designed for looking at things like sea ice thickness. It has been up for a year and is generating fantastic data. We now have a generation of very sophisticated, autonomous vehicles. NERC’s Autosub is a very fine example. There is a new variant, the 6000 series, which potentially goes right across the Arctic under the ice if you wish. Capabilities have increased since the early days. Submarines are still a significant option for us, but they are not the answer to everything.
One of the things I am very interested in, and I attended a workshop two years ago, is the use of submarines. There is a community out there that still wants to use them. We need to address the issues about getting the data in a form that both the Navy and ourselves are happy with, but it is also important to be thinking of more effective ways of using the submarines as platforms. The Americans have recently-I think it is the SCICEX programme-come up with a new science plan for the use of Navy submarines in a much broader role. I think we could learn lessons from them and I would like to see that come forward.
Q266 Dr Whitehead: Just briefly so I can clearly understand it, you mentioned the ability to process data in such a way that the Navy’s activities were not recordable. Is that right?
Dr Ellis-Evans: Yes.
Q267 Dr Whitehead: Presumably that means that hitching a ride on Navy submarines has the drawback, in principle, of having to be disguised to some extent in terms of where the Navy has actually been? Would that be a fair-
Dr Ellis-Evans: The Navy is always going to be very cautious about its operational activities, so we have to live with that. We wanted to get access to as much data from the Arctic as possible. The American submarines tend to just say, "We will provide you data from a certain area of the Arctic", which is fairly non-contentious. We would like a broader range. We are not interested in the fact of where exactly they have been at any one time, but we want to be able to get relevant data out. It has taken some time, but they have been working with the research establishments, and the National Oceanography Centre down in Southampton, and have come up with ways to process this that is satisfactory to both sides. We are very hopeful that we are going to see some very useful data coming out.
Q268 Paul Uppal: I just want to elaborate on some of the points you made earlier on, particularly the UK’s role. In science, there is general consensus that this is an area that we very much excel in, in terms of research as well. You mentioned we have a high profile and good linkages, and generally there is consensus between coastal and non-coastal states and also indigenous populations. In terms of research, how can this develop the UK’s role, particularly in developing perhaps a stronger role, and particularly-and I do not want to lead your response too much-how might the Arctic research be shared, which is something perhaps that the Arctic Council can have a role in.
Dr Ellis-Evans: I am very much of the view that we, with Arctic science, can have a role. UK science is well regarded in a number of significant areas for the Arctic. There is always a welcome for our UK scientists to join in any of the international Arctic activities. That is not a problem.
As well as being science co-ordinator for the Arctic Research Programme, I have a particular interest in the broader range of science that NERC does. We created an Arctic Office that supports the research and helps the co-ordination of research in the Arctic. We feel that we have a mechanism in place that can help the UK, which previously did a lot of very good research but it was rather bitty at times. There were some big projects, which I have outlined, but as a general thing we have tended to do lots of good science in a whole range of areas, whereas in the Antarctic it tends to be a lot more organised because it has to channel through British Antarctic Survey in the main.
The Arctic Office has a role in trying to promote British science in the Arctic and make connections. One of the things we have done is have set up connections with the Canadian Government. There has been a British/Canadian MOU for the last three years for the exchange of resources and shared activities in the polar regions, Arctic and Antarctic. We are working on that. We have just recently signed agreements with Norway as well to be doing much more co-operative work in both polar regions.
As for the science in the broader sense, I am very active in my role as the Arctic Office head in basically getting British science a high profile. In terms of Arctic international science co-ordination, that is all done through a group called the International Arctic Science Committee or IASC. I am now the UK representative on the IASC Council, where we are sitting at the table at the discussions that IASC are having on organising international science in the Arctic. They have set up a whole series of working groups that target different areas of science in the Arctic. I now have UK scientists in place on all of these committees. In some cases, they are chairing or co-chairing. I certainly have sat in on the meetings and the UK involvement in discussions is very substantial. We are now seeing outcomes from that with the formation of an Arctic climate science network (ACSNet), which my Arctic Research Programme projects can feed into, and it is linking us to all the major national programmes running in the western Arctic, and we will extend it to the broader Arctic as a whole. We are doing that at the science level.
If we take it up to the Arctic Council, I am not on the political side of things but one of the most important things the Arctic Council does is run a series of working groups, which produce very well-respected, substantial tomes. They are assessments of the state of the environment. I got involved with a number of these bodies and I have offered to put UK scientists in place. On a number of occasions, specialist situations have arisen. For instance, recently the Ocean Acidification Group was meeting and they wanted a particular British expert. I was able to facilitate matters to get that expert on to that committee. That helps us put our profile out a little bit further. I have done a number of those sorts of things. Where in the past it would have been just the Arctic Rim nations that were primarily represented on committees and so forth, we are now looking for UK involvement of these. We wanted to increase the voice, as well as increasing the science that we are doing through the Arctic Research Programme and other initiatives, I hope.
Q269 Paul Uppal: You have partially answered this anyway, but the research in the Arctic and Antarctic-and forgive me if I am being a bit prosaic on this-how much crossover is there? The research that you can apply for one: does it apply to the other, what is the dynamic?
Dr Ellis-Evans: The answer is yes, you can and yes, we do. I was actually grabbed by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, which looks after science co-ordination in the Antarctic, and IASC in the Arctic, to head up an action group to focus on providing recommendations to both organisations on how they could bring their science together more effectively at an international level. I chair that committee and we have just finished our second report. We have been making substantial strides. We have looked towards joint conferences. We are looking at working groups on particular areas, working across and sharing data sets. IASC are in the process of developing their own international data policy. They are going to be looking very carefully at the existing SCAR one. They are looking to make linkages at that level.
If we come down to the UK, traditionally people like me have always done science in the Arctic and the Antarctic. We see a lot of benefits in basically taking process studies from one hemisphere and validating them in another.
Q270 Paul Uppal: Are we quite unique in that?
Dr Ellis-Evans: We are not entirely unique, but there are not many countries that do bipolar research. It is interesting how we seem to come together with them. The Norwegians, the Germans, the Americans are people we do a lot of research with, and it is partly to do with the fact that they have this bipolar-if you will pardon the word-approach.
Q271 Mark Lazarowicz: As regards warming, do you have a sense of how important fisheries are going to become in that region?
Dr Ellis-Evans: It is a very difficult one to predict at the moment. There is a lack of data for fisheries in the Arctic. If we look at some basic principles, there are not a lot of nutrients in the Arctic. It is a cold place, and the fisheries are primarily in the shallow shelf seas. A particular example would be the Barents Sea. That is possibly one of the best fisheries there. If we get warming, you might anticipate that existing fish stocks there might increase. You also might anticipate that if there is warming in the Arctic you are certainly seeing warming elsewhere, so migratory species may move further up into the Arctic as well. This may end up providing competition issues and so forth.
When you look at it, one of the big issues we have not touched on here but you may have had it in previous evidence is the fact that there is a very large amount of fresh water that has come out of the Arctic land mass and is now sitting in an area called the Beaufort Gyre, right in the centre of the Arctic, so this fresh water is distributed over the surface of the Arctic Ocean. The presence of that water will stop mixing to an extent. It will certainly limit it. In doing that, it stops upwelling of nutrients from the sediments, so you cannot rely on getting more nutrients coming up as the oceans warm there.
The other source would be materials coming in from riverine sources. They are coming out of these very large rivers in Canada, Alaska and Russia. Those are likely to end up with hot spots around the mouths of the river, relatively small limited areas. In fact, if we look at some of the work that has been done, as the sea ice has gone back in recent years they have been putting in satellite imagery of phytoplankton distribution, and we are seeing hot spots which are often associated with riverine areas. But if you come further out there are still relatively low levels of phytoplankton. The feeling would be there that we have nutrient-limited systems and, therefore, there is likely to be a limit on how far a fishery could develop.
Q272 Mark Lazarowicz: You have indicated how there might be an impact on fisheries further south that the UK fishes or the EU more generally. Are you in a position to give an idea of what that might mean, or is it really just a question of saying there will be implications that will require more research?
Dr Ellis-Evans: We do need a lot more research. Arctic fisheries and, to an extent, a component of the sub-Arctic fisheries in the north of the North Atlantic are not that well understood. If you are going to look at fisheries, a classic example is the Barents Sea, where the Norwegians have taken what is largely an ecosystem-based research method. That is the way to understand fisheries in a changing climate. You have to be looking at the environment itself. You have to look at the changing ecosystem and the fisheries. That is quite sophisticated work. A lot of that is still to be done. There is lots of talk, particularly from people like the European Commission, about ecosystem-based research. It is actually very difficult to do and very difficult to implement. The Norwegians seem to be doing quite a reasonable job around the Barents Sea. Places like Greenland and Iceland have fisheries as well. They have taken a more conventional approach, but they have certainly been very good at-
Q273 Mark Lazarowicz: By a "conventional approach", what do you mean: just doing more fishing?
Dr Ellis-Evans: It tends to be looking more at fisheries stock modelling rather than looking at the whole eco-system. Again, they are applying controls on who is getting into these fisheries. They have managed to be quite a successful system.
Q274 Mark Lazarowicz: On the example of Barents Sea, you have said the Norwegians are doing a lot of research there. Am I right-I think I may have picked up on this in the earlier evidence-that the area around there is not part of Norway’s EEZ?
Dr Ellis-Evans: No, a large part of it is part of the EEZ. Yes, I think that is actually one of the issues that if you are talking about a fishery, you are talking about a fishery because you might want to exploit it. The fact is that if we do get a fishery in the Arctic it is likely to be largely constrained to the EEZs of the Arctic Rim nations. UK boats would end up having to pay to get into those locations.
Q275 Mark Lazarowicz: We will have plenty of debates within the EU about the fisheries, as stated earlier, but how far can we be confident that there is awareness to take a sustainable approach towards the potential of new fisheries in the various EEZs around the Arctic, given that some countries have different records that have any in that respect?
Dr Ellis-Evans: Yes, I think that is fair to say. But all of the Arctic Rim nations, as I recall it, have signed up to the Law of the Sea and some of the EU fisheries sustainability things. The FAO has two major fisheries areas there, and I think critical groups like Canada and Norway have signed up to those. There are a number of different elements, and some were signed and some not. I think there is a general view that in the Arctic there has been a relatively good track record on sustainability, in the main because they are not pushing that fishery yet. It has not being fully exploited.
Q276 Chair: I just have one last question before we finish this part of the session. The research that you do, to what extent does it link in with the European Environment Agency? Do you have any direct contact with them at all on looking at future terms of reference for research?
Dr Ellis-Evans: In terms of the work we are doing with the Arctic Research Programme, relatively little directly, because we are not that concerned on the pollution side of things. However, if we wish to define the environment that pollution is coming into-things like black carbon coming into the Arctic-a major part of understanding the process, bringing particles in and how they change during their flight time and get into the system, and then how you are seeing its impact on things like albedo and so forth, or other pollutants coming into the system-you need the sort of modelling that we can provide. We would anticipate that the European Environment Agency would want to come to us to access the models that we can provide.
Q277 Chair: I am just trying to get an understanding of how that works. Do you wait for people like the European Environment Agency to come to you? Where is the leadership in all of this?
Dr Ellis-Evans: There is connection between them. There is dialogue between the agency and research councils such as NERC.
Q278 Chair: On the scale that you would think would be fit for purpose?
Dr Ellis-Evans: Yes. I would not like to judge that it is necessarily entirely fit for purpose, but there are linkages already. There is certainly nothing to stop them coming to us. But on the other point-
Q279 Chair: But what would make these points happen?
Dr Ellis-Evans: The other point, though, is that the models that we are producing are going to be made readily available to the community anyway. It is going to be out there. It is just the expertise in making the most of that, that they might want to come to us for. The actual models and so forth, and our predictions, will be going through things like the Hadley Centre. We will see them manifested in the public arena.
Chair: The only reason I raised it is to try to get an understanding of how this kind of collaboration gets formulated and what it takes for it to happen. On that point, we must leave it. Thank you once again for coming along this afternoon.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Godfrey Souter, Head of Climate Change and Environment, Department for Transport, Ronald Allen, Head of the Marine Technology Unit, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and Peter Hinchliffe, Secretary General, International Chamber of Shipping, gave evidence.
Q280 Chair: Good afternoon. Thank you, all three of you, for coming along and joining in this marathon session this afternoon. Just for the record, it is perhaps more difficult to take evidence from three people than it is from one, but we will do our best.
In welcoming you, first of all, can I just say it is a matter of concern to me that shipping often gets added on as an afterthought? I would have thought, in terms of the collaboration that is needed in all questions to do with the Arctic and the issues that there are, and questions about the future role of shipping with all the changes that are taking place there, that it would have been helpful to us as a Committee to have had evidence from the IMO. I know that this is not your remit whatsoever. But I do get the feeling sometimes that shipping, and particularly international shipping-and you look at the issue to do with emissions and so on-is often the last on the agenda. I just wonder whether or not you feel that there is any perspective from the IMO, had they joined us this afternoon rather than declining to come along and give evidence to a national Parliament, that might have been helpful. What could they have added to the debate that we will be having this afternoon?
Godfrey Souter: Could I give the first answer? Sorry, do I need to introduce myself?
Chair: Please do.
Godfrey Souter: I am Godfrey Souter, Head of Climate Change and Environment in the Department for Transport’s Maritime Safety and Environment Division.
On the first part of your question, I do not think that when it comes to the Arctic we are unduly concerned about shipping being thought of as an afterthought, because one of the points that we are going to make in our evidence is that, at present, shipping is not a very big deal in the Arctic. At present there is not a great deal of shipping transiting the commercial routes. In the future it will be different but for the moment these are all very much potentialities.
On the second point about the IMO, I think there may be a small misconception. The IMO secretariat is not really the IMO. The IMO is the collective will and decision-making power of its member states, very ably aided by the observer delegations, both from the industry, such as the International Chamber of Shipping, and from green environmental observer delegations. I think that if you are speaking to a government-and I believe you may be speaking to some other governments in later evidence sessions-you are actually getting the voices of the members of the IMO.
Chair: That is very helpful. I will turn straight to my colleague, Simon Wright, and then we can get into the body of our questioning this afternoon. Thank you.
Q281 Simon Wright: We may well see increased shipping traffic in the Arctic as a result of climate change. Could each of you comment, from your perspective, on what the risks and opportunities are as a result of that and what it really means for us in the UK?
Godfrey Souter: That is a fairly big set of questions. The big opportunity that climate change in the Arctic presents is for ships to make use of shorter routes, which have not previously been available. Using the Northern Sea Route, which has been mentioned already today, the route across the top of Russia using the Northern Sea Route can reduce the travel distance from northern Europe to Japan by 40%. Using the Northwest Passage could reduce the travel distance from northern Europe to America’s Pacific Northwest by 25%.
The thing that I was just alluding to a moment ago is that regular navigation on these routes is still not a realistic proposition, although there is some commercial traffic on the Northern Sea Route. In fact, I do not know if you saw Lloyd’s List today. You probably don’t see Lloyd’s List. It is the shipping industry’s newspaper. By an interesting coincidence, there was an article in today’s issue of Lloyd’s List, which recorded that 34 ships made the voyage along the Northern Sea Route in 2011. This is more than I might have expected, and probably more than you would have expected, but it is a very, very small number. It is 34 ships. The fact is that Arctic navigation is different from other commercial navigation. Ships using these routes need to be Ice Class which makes it unlikely that you will get the economies of scale which you will get from the biggest commercial ships. Sorry, am I going too fast?
Chair: No, that is fine.
Godfrey Souter: An icebreaker escort will normally be required. There is a lack of supporting infrastructure along both routes. We can come back to this later. We understand that securing insurance cover for voyages to the Arctic is very expensive.
We have three main areas of concern, and one is protection of the environment. It is very important that the expansion of shipping in the Arctic should not have a damaging effect on the environment, either through the operational discharges or emissions of ships in their normal business, or through catastrophic pollution from a shipping incident. The second big concern is maritime safety. It is very important that ships that make Arctic voyages should be designed and constructed to Arctic standards, and also they should be operated in a way that ensures navigational safety. Thirdly, there is something else that came up earlier today in the Chatham House presentation, freedom of navigation.
The UK takes the view that both the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route are, to use the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea terminology, "Straits used for international navigation". We are working with other states with a view to achieving consensus on this. We regard it as frightfully important that ships’ right of transit passage to use an UNCLOS 'term of art’-through these waters should not be denied, hampered or impaired.
To turn to the specific implications for the UK-and I am sorry it has taken me so long to get here-as we explained in our written evidence, our assessment is that there is not as yet a significant UK involvement in the shipping that is penetrating the Arctic. We assume that growth in shipping along the Arctic route will include UK flagged vessels, but we cannot predict how much it is going to be. This would bring us to ports. We do think that in the UK, ports in Scotland and northern England, especially along the eastern seaboard, could become more viable for UK calls by vessels on the Far East trades-that is to say, using the Northern Sea Route. Port capacity could be provided to accommodate moderately significant northward demand shift. Teesport, for example, already has planning consent to enlarge its terminal for Post-Panamax vessels. They used to be the biggest sort of container ship, but now there are even bigger sorts, which are the New Panamax and, I think, other very large container ships. But Post-Panamax is still pretty big. It is not clear which ports would prevail competitively. No single UK port would have a clear geographical edge, but the consequence could be that some port development-and some port investment which has already taken place in the south-could be under-utilised.
Turning to insurance, while we have no hard evidence it seems reasonable to assume, given the global importance of the London marine insurance markets, that a growth in Arctic shipping will indeed see a growth in the provision of relevant insurance from maritime London. Have I covered everything?
Simon Wright: Yes. Thank you.
Q282 Chair: It is remiss of me not to allow your two-well, not colleagues-associates to introduce themselves. I would be very grateful if perhaps, Mr Hinchliffe and Mr Allen, you would just like to do that very briefly.
Peter Hinchliffe: Thank you, Chair. Can I do that, but can I also comment on both questions so far very briefly?
Peter Hinchliffe: I represent the International Chamber of Shipping, which I will probably slip into calling ICS for short. We are the trade association for international ship owners and operators. Our members are national ship owner associations. So, in the UK, many of you I am sure will be familiar with the UK Chamber of Shipping. That is just one of our 36 national association members. All of these associations are located in the primary ship owning nations around the world. Therefore, we represent about 80% of the world’s shipping fleet. We are the first non-governmental organisation to be invited to take a seat at the International Maritime Organisation, and that was back in the 1970s. So, we have a long history there. Our role there is to provide the IMO and other UN agencies with technical advice and assistance during their debates, through papers, which we submit, based upon the views we collect from the international ship owners. I or my staff attend virtually every IMO meeting and every working group and we are, among many other things, engaged in the current development of the IMO Polar Code, which I am sure we will come back to.
Chair, you asked a question about whether shipping felt left out? I certainly support what Mr Souter has said. As a general comment on shipping, we always say that shipping has an image problem. It is not that it has a bad image; it doesn’t have an image. Of course, that is something that is coming home to roost now when we talk about development of regulation, and is something we are trying to work on.
To answer the question on risk and advantage, I fully endorse what has already been said but perhaps just put a slightly different nuance on a couple of the points. As you have heard, the Northern Sea Route has not yet opened up, although we have had several what we might term "experimental voyages". I think one risk is that companies might be tempted to use such a route for all the good reasons that you heard, before it is entirely safe to do so, in other words before there is a generally ice-free passage available. I am sure we will talk later about the Polar Code, but that is what the Polar Code should be seeking to address, to make sure that this is a safe passage that may be conducted.
In developing that regulation it will be important to stress the criteria that determine what is meant by safe passage conditions. Ships using the Northern Sea Route should not do so until the passage may be conducted in ice-free conditions. The final risk that I would like to identify is to ensure that considerable care is taken with any rules that may be put into place. These should not, for example, inadvertently limit resource extraction options. Nor should they inhibit access and trade advantage unnecessarily. To some extent we would certainly like such regulation to be risk-based. In other words, it is not one rule that fits all. It depends what that ship is intending to do, and the rule should try to focus on that risk-based approach. We certainly expect shipping companies to take a risk-based approach. The advantage, which I will close on, is that the main advantage for shipping is the prospect of a shorter sea route between the Far East and Europe, and that is very important. We shouldn’t forget in the UK context that this was the prize that Captain Cook was charged to look for back in the 1770s.
The shorter sea route is not just commercially advantageous; there is a significant environmental benefit because less fuel is burned during the voyage per unit of cargo carried. Also, ships will be able to avoid certain other somewhat problematic areas at the moment, like the risk of piracy in the Indian Ocean.
Q283 Chair: I think we will come to this. I know that Simon still has a series of questions, but, Mr Allen, would you just like to briefly introduce yourself and then I will hand you back to Simon Wright?
Ronald Allen: Certainly, Madam Chair. I am Ronald Allen, head of the Marine Technology Branch, Maritime Coastguard Agency. I have been involved with the development of non-mandatory guidelines on polar shipping, and I am currently involved in the development of the mandatory Polar Code at IMO.
Q284 Simon Wright: I would like to direct my next question, perhaps, specifically to Mr Hinchliffe. I wondered to what extent you could tell if shipping firms are already gearing up for using routes through the Arctic, and what preparations shipping firms are making to that end.
Peter Hinchliffe: I do not think this is a widespread prospect. I read the same report in Lloyd’s List this morning, and I was quite surprised that last year there were 34 passages. The year before there had only been four. These are passages that are highly regulated by the Russians. You have to pay for a Russian icebreaker escort. You are very much operating in convoy. The companies that have been interested in doing that so far are very, very small in number. What I think will happen is this: other companies, I am sure, are already watching the development of this option, and as it becomes clear that safe passage is available, so more and more interest will be taken. Frankly, I do not think that companies are investing, on a large scale basis, in anything about this prospect at the moment.
Q285 Simon Wright: In relation to the point about icebreaker fleets, to what extent do you feel that the increase in shipping departs will be dependent on particular countries developing those fleets and which countries are leading the way on that?
Peter Hinchliffe: The passage at the moment is very much in the Russian backyard. As far as I understand, Russia will not be keen to allow nations to go in there willy-nilly with their own icebreakers. Therefore, people really are dependent upon Russia providing that facility, for which they charge, and that is part of the commercial equation as well.
Q286 Caroline Nokes: I think both Mr Allen and Mr Hinchliffe have already referred to it, but I just wanted to turn to the International Maritime Organisation and the Polar Code, and ask whether each of you believes that such a code is needed, and whether it is going to address the various risks that we have heard raised this afternoon. We will start with you, Mr Allen.
Peter Hinchliffe: Can I start?
Ronald Allen: By all means.
Peter Hinchliffe: First of all, in ICS we fully endorse the development of the Polar Code. We endorse the fact that the major part of that publication will be mandatory. But I think you need to have just 30 seconds of background. It is very important to understand that international shipping is highly regulated, and there are two key conventions which regulate that shipping: the SOLAS Convention, which is about safety of life at sea, and the MARPOL Convention, which is about marine pollution from ships.
What the Polar Code seeks to do is to build upon that existing regulation. In other words, it will put in place aspects of regulation, which ships will comply with, which are over and above the requirements that are already in place for ships, for example, doing passages across the Atlantic, to address the particular issues that arise in Arctic operations. Maybe I could just read out the chapter headings that we think will be in the Polar Code. I think that will give you an idea of the range of coverage of this document.
The first part of the Polar Code will be a polar water operations manual, so that will be the handbook for operations. Then there will be chapters on-and I will just skip through these-structural integrity; watertight and weather-tight integrity; machinery; anchoring arrangements; habitability; fire safety; life-saving appliances; navigation; communications; operational requirements; crewing and crew training; and environmental protection. That will be the mandatory part. Then this will be backed up, as you briefly heard before, by a part B, which is a guidance section, which is not mandatory but which companies will take into account in their risk-based approach to this problem. But I am sure Mr Allen can add to that.
Ronald Allen: Yes. I fully agree with what has been said there. It was recognised as late as the 1990s that some formal guidance for ships operating in Arctic waters was required. The first Arctic guidelines were adopted back in 2002, and these were later adapted to include the Antarctic region. But they still remained as guidelines and, therefore, were not enforceable.
The SOLAS Convention does not specifically exclude operations in polar regions, but neither does it make any special provision for them. The increased activity of both passenger ships and cargo ships in the polar regions takes them into more and more remote areas. This does give rise to new risks, risks that are not necessarily addressed within SOLAS, and it is as a result of the combination of particular hazards that these new risks occur. Particularly, looking at it in broad terms, we have the presence of ice; we have a lower-temperature environment; the distance from search and rescue facilities; the lack of hydrographic information; the differences in navigation and communication systems; and the potential for environmental damage. The presence of ice-well, we have ice in the Baltic and it is perfectly well taken care of. But what we do not have in the Baltic is a problem with the distance to search and rescue services, and when we combine some of these things we come up with new risks that need addressing. This is why there was consensus at IMO for the compelling need for a mandatory code for polar operations.
Q287 Caroline Nokes: Can I just clarify, then, that the environmental protection part is mandatory but the rest of the code is planned to be voluntary?
Ronald Allen: Not at all. No. The safety of navigation side will be mandatory for SOLAS Convention ships. The environmental side will be dealt with by MEPC and MARPOL, and that too will be mandatory.
Q288 Caroline Nokes: Should it apply to all ships or just the new ones?
Ronald Allen: This is yet to be decided, and I think it will depend on which chapter we are looking at here. It is not possible to rebuild ships, to alter their damage stability requirements, for instance. You could not do that. So, that would apply to new ships only. But where we are talking of, say, life-saving appliances where existing ships may well have, for instance, open lifeboats, then it is possible to replace those with fully enclosed lifeboats if we see it as necessary. Therefore, that would apply to all ships rather than the new ships only.
Q289 Caroline Nokes: Can I just turn to Mr Souter and ask what the Government’s ambitions are for the Polar Code, and how it is engaging with the IMO?
Godfrey Souter: I am sorry to say that I will have to put you back to Mr Allen. Mr Allen is also a Government official, and he is the expert on the Polar Code.
Ronald Allen: Overall, we wish to see a robust code, and a mandatory code that addresses all the additional risks of operation in polar waters and provides for appropriate and proportionate controls in consideration of those risks. We also wish to see a full and proper consideration of the guidelines-these are non-mandatory guidelines-for non-convention vessels. There have been recent casualties in the Antarctic, two fishing vessels, which demonstrates a need for some attempt at least to provide some regulation for these vessels. It is the case that SOLAS cannot regulate these vessels but it may be that the Antarctic Treaty parties could use non-mandatory guidelines that apply, for instance, to fishing vessels and other non-convention vessels. They may seek to use them as a condition for granting permits to go into Antarctica, say. We do not have that same sort of permitting regime in the Arctic, but it does exist in the Antarctic and it may well be that such organisations could use non-mandatory guidelines.
Q290 Caroline Nokes: How is the Government engaging with the IMO on this?
Ronald Allen: We are very active. We play a full part in the development of the code, along with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Polar Regions Unit, and with the British Antarctic Survey. We attend all of the meetings at IMO. We also take part in the Intersessional Correspondence Group, which does work between sessions. We also have attended an environmental hazard identification meeting in Cambridge last year.
Q291 Chair: Just to go back, if I may, you are talking about regulations and I think that since the 1990s, there has been some consensus that there needs to be additional regulation, over and above what SOLAS and MARPOL provide. We are now in 2012, and I hear very clearly that the Coastguard Agency and various Departments are attending all the meetings that there are going. But I just wonder where the sense of urgency and the timeline is in all of this, given the other timeline that we have of increasingly accelerated melting of the ice in the Arctic region. I just wonder why we have had to wait so long for these extra regulations to come forward. Who is really driving this? What needs to happen to make those regulations that are fit for purpose come forward?
Ronald Allen: I think really we are now bound by the timescales and the procedures at IMO. This was started about two years ago, the agenda item to produce a mandatory code.
Q292 Chair: Could I just stop you there and ask you, chapter and verse, what the line was that precipitated that procedure at the IMO?
Ronald Allen: That would have been papers submitted to the Maritime Safety Committee meeting, to approve or to establish a compelling need for a mandatory code, or to open a new agenda item to produce a new mandatory code. Then that was given to the Design and Equipment Sub-Committee, as the overseeing sub-committee.
Q293 Chair: Who is the lead person for the UK who would be pushing it forward?
Ronald Allen: In theory, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have lead on polar matters, but-
Q294 Chair: So, they would be on that committee?
Ronald Allen: They do appear at the Design and Equipment Sub-Committee, along with the MCA and the British Antarctic Survey. But in technical matters I think they generally defer to the MCA.
Q295 Chair: You are all smiling. We are still waiting, aren’t we?
Ronald Allen: We are still waiting, and it does take time.
Q296 Chair: How long are we going to have to wait?
Ronald Allen: Initially there was an intention-well, there still is an intention-to have what we call a goal-based set of regulations. This has proved a little problematic, as it has slowed up the development of regulations. It is seeking to provide a more open regulation rather than being too prescriptive about it, and it has suffered teething problems in that way.
It is also the case that we have only just, at the last DE meeting earlier on this year, sent out to the other sub-committees-and these might be sub-committees for LSA, for stability, for fire, for navigation-for their input to the Design and Equipment Sub-Committee. We are going to have to wait another year before we get anything back from them, and I cannot see it being put up for approval to the Maritime Safety Committee for perhaps another two years.
Q297 Chair: I am just going to bring in the Chamber of Shipping, if I may, on that because if you are looking at regulation that is going to create new designs as they are going to be needed, for X amount of years ahead, surely there needs to be quite a long lead-in period anyway, because it takes quite a bit of time to construct to the new construction and design standard. I am just wondering, Mr Hinchliffe, how that squares with the concerns of your association.
Peter Hinchliffe: To partly answer your previous question, of course there is no regular international trade through Arctic waters, and so therefore there has been no compelling need until it became evident that this route was going to open up, when of course the interest was there. The Governments therefore have now seen that compelling need and we endorse that. It is important to understand that Ice Class ships already exist, because there are ships that do operate for various purposes in ice-covered waters and, therefore, those designs and the construction of those ships are already in place. I personally doubt that the Polar Code will make much change to the Ice Class standards of construction and design, because it will not be required. It may be, and certainly we are not adverse to that if it does transpire, but those issues are already in place.
The final point is: yes, from the regulation being in place until a ship could be available to be delivered ready to trade, I guess the minimum time is probably about five years.
Q298 Caroline Lucas: I was just going to say that the timescales here are a bit alarming. It does seem that there is not a great deal of urgency, from the outside looking in-a year for these other committees to get back to you and so forth. I just wonder if you could reassure us that this is being pursued with a degree of urgency. Secondly, in terms of things like particulate matter emissions, for example, we have had some evidence from Client Earth that suggested that, if action is not taken fairly swiftly, then we could be seeing levels of emissions and black carbon in the area doubling or even tripling over the next couple of decades. Are things like emission reductions and so forth being discussed in MARPOL and what progress is there? More generally, on emissions trading, I know that the IMO was supposed to be coming up with some proposals I think for marine emissions trading, and I do not know what has happened to that, so a quick update on that would be good.
Godfrey Souter: Just to go back to the basic principles of how the IMO works, as my colleague has explained, proposals have to be put forward in a paper by a sponsor Government, and that is actually how things get kicked off in the IMO. Then there are indeed the committee cycles. The committee that I go to, the Marine Environment Protection Committee, meets three times over two years, so that means in one year there are two meetings and in another year it is only one meeting. But a lot of the sub-committees only meet once a year. The result is that I think it is fair to say that the IMO is not the fastest organisation in the world, but it is very thorough. The product that comes out at the other end is the result of a consensus between flag states, port states, coastal states, industry, non-Government organisations and environmental NGOs, and the result is something that is always workable.
Q299 Caroline Lucas: I think that is what is referred to as the lowest common denominator. Just because something is workable does not necessarily mean it is good.
Godfrey Souter: No, not at all.
Q300 Caroline Lucas: Is there any reason to suggest that it might be worth looking at whether any of those processes could be speeded up, given that, for example, you both expressed surprise at the number of ships that have passed through passage over the last 12 months?
Godfrey Souter: We move as fast as we can, and I am going to come back to black carbon and to emissions trading. I was just going to say that I meant "workable" as opposed to not workable. There are some other negotiating fora-I would rather not tell you what they are because I know it is going to go in Hansard-where sometimes the legal instrument that comes out at the end is actually not workable. The IMO’s are always workable. Often they are way more than workable. They are very, very good. A classic example is the revised Annex VI to the MARPOL Convention, which was adopted by the IMO in October 2008, and it got an awful lot of praise from everyone.
Black carbon is something that has not been dealt with in the revised Annex VI of 2008. It is something that it is being dealt with, though. I know that one of your previous evidence givers was quite critical of the fact that the IMO had not done much yet, but they are doing something now. Obviously black carbon is really important, not just because of its forcing effect on climate change in the Arctic but also because it is bad for human health. Black carbon from ships’ emissions is being considered by an IMO Correspondence Group, co-ordinated by the United States and conducted under the aegis of the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases. It is tasked with looking at three particular things at the moment: agreeing a definition of black carbon, identifying suitable measurement methods, and gathering information about the scale of the problem. Sorry, am I going too fast again?
Q301 Caroline Lucas: How about doing something about it, though, having done all that?
Godfrey Souter: And developing a range of control options, and what they will then do is report to the next session of the Bulk Liquids and Gases Sub-Committee, which is in March of next year. They will develop a work programme as appropriate and then it may go forward as part of the Polar Code, or it may then go forward as further work on Annex VI to the MARPOL Convention. Annex VI is the annex of the MARPOL Convention that deals with atmospheric emissions.
Q302 Caroline Lucas: Do you imagine that is looking at four or five years, something like that? To get a sense of when we might actually see some new laws coming in from some appropriate regulation.
Godfrey Souter: Maybe three years; and did you want to hear about emissions trading for climate-
Caroline Lucas: Yes, please.
Godfrey Souter: Normally the IMO works on a highly technical basis by consensus. It is normally apolitical and we get results in the timescales I have described. Unfortunately, carbon emissions have turned out to be a highly politicised subject, where a number of developing world countries have very strong views that are at variance with those countries that actually want to make progress in the IMO. It does not mean that we are not making progress, but it means we are making progress more slowly than on just about every other subject that is dealt with in the IMO.
In July 2011, the IMO had fantastic success with the adoption of the Energy Efficiency Design Index as part of MARPOL. We are still working on trying to get terms of reference for an impact assessment of the range of different market based measures for CO2, which are currently on the table. Emissions trading is one of them. The international greenhouse gas fund is another, and the idea originates with Danes. There is an American one. There is one that the Japanese and the World Shipping Council have come up with. It needs an impact assessment, and that is the next step.
Q303 Chair: I am sure from the point of view of our Committee, the work of the Climate Change Committee, and the relevance of its work to Parliament for shipping will come up for further scrutiny. I very much hope we will have the opportunity to look at that in detail. Mr Hinchliffe, you wanted to come in, and I think that my colleague Mark Lazarowicz wanted to come in briefly before we finally move to Dr Whitehead.
Peter Hinchliffe: Yes, very briefly, to add a little bit on the question that has just been asked. I tried to explain at the beginning that the Polar Code is not starting from ground zero. We already have the MARPOL and SOLAS Conventions. The MARPOL Convention has been changed to require ships to move from the current heavy fuel oil that they burn, which has a very high sulphur content, to distillate or diesel fuel. That regulation is already in place, and with effect from 2015 most of the world’s fleet will start to switch from this heavy fuel oil to diesel fuel, which will have a marked effect on emissions or the deposition of black carbon. I am not saying it will remove the problem, but the amount of black carbon that ships emit will be vastly reduced. I think it is very important to take that in account. In other respects, I agree with what Mr Souter was saying.
Q304 Mark Lazarowicz: Just one quick question to clarify the way in which a Polar Code becomes mandatory: am I correct in thinking that making it compulsory is something that a member state, a Government, will do? Who enforces the mandatory nature of a Polar Code regulation? Presumably, countries have to agree a Polar Code through some treaty or something, then it is up to the signatory states to enforce it. Is that how it happens?
Godfrey Souter: Perhaps I could answer this. Basically, the instruments in the IMO may be amendments to new instruments, like MARPOL or SOLAS, to which countries are already a party. The United Kingdom already has a treaty obligation to fulfil the requirements of MARPOL, and when there are amendments to MARPOL, the United Kingdom has to implement those amendments or, alternatively, we could denounce the convention.
That applies if you have an existing convention. Alternatively, if you have a new convention, then countries have to decide whether they are going to ratify or accede to that convention or not. Indeed, the convention will not come into force internationally until a specified number of countries representing a specified percentage of the merchant tonnage of the world-and these are specified in the terms of the convention itself-have been satisfied. Then the countries that have ratified or acceded to these international instruments have to implement them in their national law. The thing is, the instruments themselves may either be mandatory or they may be in the form of guidelines. Basically we are talking about international instruments.
Q305 Mark Lazarowicz: Basically, once you have agreed a Polar Code, you then have to go through this procedure of negotiation, agreement and ratification- is that correct?
Godfrey Souter: I am going to have to defer to Mr Allen. We have talked about the fact that the SOLAS and MARPOL Conventions apply to ships everywhere in the world, but the additional elements that are going to be only in the Polar Code-
Ronald Allen: We are still not entirely sure about the mechanism for having it implemented. But I think the favourite, and certainly the one that we would prefer to see, is for it not to be a standalone convention but for it to be absorbed within SOLAS itself. To have a chapter within SOLAS, in the same manner as the High-Speed Craft Code, which is an equivalent to various chapters of SOLAS and has its own chapter: you simply refer to the High-Speed Craft Code. We could have a new chapter in SOLAS that says, "If you are operating ships in the polar regions, you should refer to the Polar Code". Then we have the Polar Code as a standalone instrument in the same way as the High-Speed Craft Code. Again, we are still looking at the legalities of doing it this way. The environmental chapter, chapter 15 in the code, would then refer you to MARPOL.
Q306 Mark Lazarowicz: A last follow-up; you refer to ships operating in the polar area. From what someone said earlier, do I take it that that includes commercial shipping? Obviously it would not include military shipping, but it would not include, for example-I understand fishing vessels-things like the large vessels that support fishing fleets and so on. Whether they would be covered by the code would depend on member states. I think the point was made that there were concerns that fishing vessels were not covered by codes in the Antarctic area.
Ronald Allen: They are non-convention vessels, so certainly SOLAS does not apply to them.
Q307 Mark Lazarowicz: The Polar Code would not apply to non-convention vessels as well?
Ronald Allen: No, it would not, and this is-
Q308 Mark Lazarowicz: If we were to see the growth of fishing which was posited earlier on in the evidence, the vessels doing that would not be covered by the Polar Code. That would be up to the member states, national Governments and their legislative competence to sort out, and deal with any issues about safety, risk, and all the rest of it. Is that correct?
Ronald Allen: Indeed. Also, it may well be that the likes of ATCM or the Antarctic Treaty Parties, could make use of this.
Mark Lazarowicz: I am dealing with the Arctic now.
Ronald Allen: Yes, I know, but they well may be useful to other organisations that might some way permit the fishing or non-convention vessel activities.
Q309 Mark Lazarowicz: There is not a regime for the Arctic, is there?
Ronald Allen: No, not to my knowledge.
Q310 Chair: There is a general view that we are on a very slow boat in respect of all of this, in terms of the timeline for getting something through quickly.
Ronald Allen: I am afraid that is just the processes that we have to go through at IMO. It is a fact that the sub-committees meet only once a year. MEPC meets three times every two years. The same is true of the Maritime Safety Committee, which is the overseeing committee on the safety of navigation side of things. Once it comes up for approval at MSC, there will then be a cooling-off period, and then an entry-into-force date may be anything up to 18 months ahead and longer.
Chair: As we do not have the pleasure of them being here to give oral evidence, we shall have to raise those issues with them through written questions.
Q311 Dr Whitehead: We talked about the regulations and the mandatory status of codes. The enforcement of compliance with those regulations, as they relate to individual ships that are going through the Arctic passages, is the responsibility of the ship’s flag state?
Godfrey Souter: Yes.
Q312 Dr Whitehead: Do we have any worries about those flag states and the extent to which they might enforce compliance with Arctic-related regulations? There are enormous variations in flag states’ ability to comply overall, and particularly with this relatively new area of additional compliance because of the particular circumstances and the distances, as we have already heard. Is that perhaps an issue for at least a number of the flag states that may operate in the Arctic in the future?
Godfrey Souter: Can I perhaps pick this one up? Certainly, the primary jurisdiction roles for ships rests with the flag state. There is also a role for the port state. When a ship enters a port of a state that is not its flag state, it becomes subject to port state control. You are absolutely right there is a variation between the standards of flag states. Many flag states are extremely meticulous in the way in which they exercise jurisdiction over the ships which fly their flag, but the port state control system provides a useful backup.
Was one of the points that you were making that you were dubious about a flag state that was not an Arctic state being able to enforce proper standards in the Arctic or am I reading something into your question that was not there?
Q313 Dr Whitehead: I am not sure what the composition of flag states is for ships that might make the Arctic passages, but I can imagine, not naming any particular flag states, that there may be flagged vessels of particular states that would venture across the Arctic passage, having no idea whatsoever of the-
Chair: It is more an issue about flags of convenience and whether or not, even if there are regulations, you get proper enforcement of those regulations.
Godfrey Souter: Absolutely. I think the point is that there is no particular reason why a non-Arctic state cannot be a fully effective flag state in respect of enforcing the regulations, the international rules and standards that apply to Arctic shipping. The other thing is that if a ship is observed by observers from the coastal state, acting in a way that is infringing the rules and standards, obviously they can report it to a flag state and expect action to be taken. Equally, there are even some powers of enforcement for coastal states, although they do normally, in UNCLOS, require a ship voluntarily to come into a port. I say "normally" because there has been some practice on the part of some western European states where they have actually brought ships into ports, which they thought were infringing international rules and standards.
Q314 Dr Whitehead: That brings me to my next question: looking at the other end of the telescope, what about the Arctic states and their capacity to deal with those issues of passage and those issues of regulation that do apply to them, particularly in view of the contested nature of a number of those passages? Do you have any concerns, or should there be concern about their competence to deal with what looks like it will be a fairly steeply increasing number of vessels passing through those passages?
Godfrey Souter: I do not think there is cause for significant concern, because those areas where there is going to be a substantial growth in traffic are areas where the state, the coastal state in particular, is seeking to promote that traffic. Russia is the obvious case, as it is seeking to promote the Northern Sea Route. I would expect Russia to provide more machinery for monitoring compliance. Also-and I said it would come back to infrastructure-I would expect Russia to provide more infrastructure in the form of ports and terminals in the Northern Sea Route, where ships can go for repair and resupply.
Q315 Dr Whitehead: So you would expect, would you?
Godfrey Souter: I would expect that.
Q316 Dr Whitehead: Is there any evidence that is happening?
Godfrey Souter: As yet, only 34 ships went through the Northern Sea Route last year and, as Mr Hinchliffe said, only four the year before. There is not very much going through the Northern Sea Route yet, but I would be very surprised if a developed country like Russia did not ensure that it had the monitoring capability and the other infrastructure capability I mentioned.
Q317 Dr Whitehead: I guess that it is chicken and egg to some extent-whether that capacity comes in before an increase in vessels, or whether an increase in vessels perhaps brings about the capacity.
Godfrey Souter: You are right; it is chicken and egg. Except that the Russians-and I do not think I want to labour the metaphor of chickens and eggs-are indeed actively promoting the Northern Sea Route. It is not something that is just happening to them. It is something that they are instigating.
Q318 Dr Whitehead: Perhaps briefly, to Mr Allen: in terms of UK flag vessels, what sort of inspection is undertaken of those should they undertake passage through the Arctic routes? What are we doing about that?
Ronald Allen: If there have only been 34 they may never have come near the UK ports.
Q319 Dr Whitehead: Do we have any UK flag vessels? Are they included in that 34?
Ronald Allen: That I am not aware of.
Q320 Chair: How would you know?
Ronald Allen: How would I know? Given that it was only this morning that it was published in Lloyd’s List, I have not had time, Madam Chair, to see whether or not there were any English flag ships involved in it. But I doubt it. I think we might have heard.
Q321 Chair: Would we expect to know if any were going through?
Ronald Allen: Difficult to say. I am not sure how we would know, given that there are no requirements as of now for polar ships and, therefore, no polar ship certificates. Because there is no mandatory requirement for adherence to any mandatory instrument for shipping in the Arctic, we would not necessarily know whether a ship was going to go through there.
Q322 Dr Whitehead: I do not think it is saying for all other flag countries.
Ronald Allen: For the moment, certainly.
Q323 Dr Whitehead: No one would actually know whether any of their vessels were going through the Arctic or not?
Ronald Allen: They may well be informed by the owners.
Q324 Mark Lazarowicz: How does anyone know it is 34, not 33 or 40? Someone must have a list of the ships, if they are going to work out-
Ronald Allen: It would either come from Russia or indeed from information or data systems like Lloyd’s Register or Fairplay.
Godfrey Souter: The point is, of course, that every ship that goes through the Northern Sea Route has to be accompanied by an icebreaker, so the Russians would have records of which icebreakers had attended which ship.
Q325 Dr Whitehead: I understand that, but the country of flag, as we have just heard, would not know and, therefore, would not be in a position to regulate or enforce regulations relating to their flag ships going through those Arctic passages, is that right?
Ronald Allen: It does not necessarily regulate the route. It regulates the ship by the issue of statutory certificates. Those relate to construction, stability and the like and safety equipment and so on, but they do not dictate where the ship can go.
Q326 Dr Whitehead: As we had agreed, aren’t some of the circumstances of going across the Arctic passages rather different and more far reaching than some of those that you might traditionally provide for?
Ronald Allen: But there is no requirement within SOLAS for any particular construction requirements to go through the Arctic.
Q327 Dr Whitehead: I understand that; I mean, in the sense that we were just agreeing, that actually that there is no distinction between sailing a ship between the Cape Verde Islands in the Azores and sailing a ship between Murmansk and Vladivostok.
Ronald Allen: When we have a Polar Code, then we will know whether a ship has in fact been inspected and been issued with certificates that entitle it to go into the polar regions, which are well defined in the code. Other than that we do not control where ships go.
Q328 Chair: Just on that preparedness, in terms of search and rescue by a coastguard and so on, how does that then feature?
Godfrey Souter: I am sorry I am far from being an expert on search and rescue, but my understanding is that every coastal state has a search and rescue region and within that region it is supposed to have the capability to carry out search and rescue operations, and that would certainly be the case for the United States, Norway, Denmark, Canada and Russia. Whether they would have the capability to deal with a very, very major incident a long way away from land is an interesting question, but it is certainly for them as the coastal state to have the capability.
Q329 Chair: We need to end now. Given all that has just been said, particularly in relation to these 34 ships that have been through, should we be looking to limit shipping in the Arctic until we have some kind of an understanding of the safety regulations and everything else and particular circumstances, like fog and so on and the damage to the ecosystem, until we have got some of these questions resolved through charts and so on?
Godfrey Souter: If I could answer that initially I am sure that other members of the panel might have something to say as well.
Chair: We might be up to full time by then.
Godfrey Souter: I will be very quick. The answer, I think, is no. I do not think there is sufficient justification for banning shipping to the Arctic. There is not a great deal of shipping going there at the moment, but what shipping is going there appears to be doing it safely not least because of the requirements to have an icebreaker escort, so no. By the way, charting is improving and also satellite provision, and provision of different satellite orbits is also improving. Although there have been inadequacies, they are being addressed, but I will stop now.
Chair: Thank you. Does anybody wish to add to that? Okay. On that point we will leave it. Thank you very much indeed. It has been very long and detailed, but thank you very much for coming along to the session this afternoon.
 Not allocated.