From: Constant Brand, Associated Press
Published May 25, 2005 12:00 AM

Arctic Leaders Appeal Over Global Warming

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Indigenous leaders from Arctic regions around the world called on the European Union on Tuesday to do more to fight global warming and to consider giving aid to their peoples.


In their first visit to EU headquarters, three leaders representing the eight-nation Arctic Council met with officials at the European Commission and several EU lawmakers to push their campaign, warning their way of life was at risk.


Chief Gary Harrison, who represents the Athabaskan peoples in Alaska and Canada said urgent action was needed from the 25-nation EU, the United States and Russia.


"Maybe we can put pressure on and maybe they can turn the corner" and help, Harrison said.


The Arctic region is home to about 4 million people, including more than 30 different indigenous groups.


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Larisa Abrutina, vice president of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, which represents 40 different indigenous peoples, said her people should be able to share from the wealth in oil drilling and similar projects in the north.


"We don't get a share in the wealth in the exploitation of resources," she said.


Olav Mathis Eura, who represents Saami people in Norway, Sweden and Finland argued that development of the north should be sustainable.


"We need a kind of protection against this encroachment, we need protection of our traditional lands," he said.


A recent study undertaken by the Arctic Council said the effects of global warming on the world's polar region were getting worse and could open up the risk of flooding and erosion as the polar ice contracts.


Created in 1996, the Arctic Council comprises Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.


Source: Associated Press


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