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Moscow plans arctic environment conference

MOSCOW, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- An international forum to address environmental concerns in the arctic region is scheduled in Moscow, the head of the Russian Geographical Society announced.

The Russian Geographical Society said it organized a two-day meeting in Moscow starting Sept. 22 to address the social, economic and environmental issues associated with the arctic, Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.

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"Climate change and anthropogenic impact have made the arctic ecosystem highly vulnerable, putting the region's sustainable development under threat," said Sergei Shoigu, president of the society and Russia's emergencies minister.

Sergei Donskoi, the deputy natural resources minister for Russia, said his ministry was preparing draft regulations that spell out how the marine environment in the arctic would be protected from oil contamination. The draft outlines financial liabilities companies would incur in the event of an oil spill in the arctic.

Environmental advocacy group Word Wide Fund for Nature said the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is a warning about the potential damage from exploring the arctic for oil and gas. The WWF said it was renewing its call for a moratorium on oil and gas development in the arctic until environmental risks are better understood.

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