Arctic countries have pledged to fight global warming, which is happening three times faster in the northern reaches of the earth than elsewhere and to preserve peace in the region as its geopolitical importance increases. Al Jazeera reports that the warming climate has opened up the Arctic for shipping, fishing, drilling and mining, and China, an observer to the Council, has made no secret of its interest in the vast territory rich in natural resources and where retreating sea ice has opened up new maritime routes. Meanwhile, Russia has beefed up its military presence in the Arctic – reopening and modernising bases abandoned since the Soviet Union collapsed – and the United States has stepped up naval exercises.