ESG Newsletter: Inside the €1bn subsea cable plan linking Galway to Asia

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Global warming is already reshaping our world in fundamental ways. And nowhere is being transformed faster than the Arctic.

As sea ice retreats in that region, new trade routes, mineral and energy reserves, and even strategic military outposts are being revealed.

As I reported last week, the Far North Fiber project is about to remind us all of just how close our arctic neighbours really are, and how global warming is rapidly transforming the accessibility and geopolitics of this important region which is just north of Ireland.

Ireland is already a key player in the internet cable superhighway running from the United States to Europe, and the Far North Fiber project is about to put the country at the centre of a pioneering new route to Asia, through one of the most hostile territories on earth.

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Flows of internet data between Europe and Asia have been increasing dramatically in recent years, and more than 80 per cent of that traffic now travels through cables in the geopolitically unstable Red Sea.

Just last week, key cables in the Red Sea were severed, disrupting 25 per cent of data traffic between Europe and Asia, demonstrating to people the risk that has been built up by centralising cables through that route.

The Irish government is enthusiastically backing the new northern route which would avoid these kind of risks. Many believe Ireland’s geographical location and glut of data centres makes it a strategically important point of connectivity on the global internet highway

In total, the cable will stretch to over 15,000 kilometres, which is about 7,000 km shorter than the alternative sea trade routes from Ireland to Asia, west through the Panama Canal, or east through the Red Sea. It will start in Norway, split off into Galway, before running past Greenland, along North Canada, before passing through the Bering strait between Alaska and Russia, and on to Japan. This is known as the Northwest passage.

It is just one example of how global warming is transforming our world, and a rare example of a short term gain amidst the longer term losses coming our way from climate change.

Thanks for reading,

Daniel Murray


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