US seeks restrictions on tourism to Arctic-Antarctic region

April 6th, 2009 - 10:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, April 6 (DPA) The US will push for more restrictions on tourism to the North and South Poles to protect the regions’ natural environment, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday.
Opening a nearly two-week summit bringing together the two diplomatic bodies that govern the Arctic and Antarctic, Clinton warned that protecting the region was crucial for reducing global climate change.

“Strengthening environmental regulation is especially important as tourism to Antarctica increases,” Clinton said at an opening ceremony at the State Department in Washington, proposing limits on larger ships and increasing safety and environmental regulations.

The gathering, which brings together scientists and government officials from 47 countries, marks the first US-hosted summit on the environment since President Barack Obama took office in January, and comes as world governments are hoping to reach a new deal to limit global warming by the end of the year.

Clinton said that past agreements on protecting the poles served as a “living example” of governments’ ability to work together on environmental issues, and urged similar cooperation in the lead-up to a Copenhagen summit in December.

“As the world prepares for climate talks in Copenhagen this December, meetings like this are more important than ever,” Clinton said.

The gathering comes on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty, which designated the poles a peaceful “natural reserve” that could not be used by any governments for military purposes.

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