On Thursday, the European Parliament is going to adopt its position on an ‘integrated EU Policy for the Arctic’. The EU has a long-standing interest in the region and has been engaged in discussions over the Arctic’s future for some time, given that three of its Member States (Denmark, Finland and Sweden) are Arctic countries.
What is currently taking place in this remote corner of the world is alarming. This year, experts have reported heat waves and temperatures of up to 20 degrees warmer than normal, once again leaving the Arctic sea ice cover at its lowest-ever winter maximum.
The disappearance of the ice is something that should be of concern to us all. The very rapid loss of sea ice due to global warming has led to a decline in the region’s ability to reflect the sun’s rays and therefore an increase in its absorption of solar energy, leading to further rises in global temperatures. This downward spiral is precisely the reason why it is so important that the world quickly reduces its emissions.
Sadly, instead of realising the potential climate catastrophe, many actors now view the melting of the ice cap as a great business opportunity to develop new tourism ventures, explore new natural resources and increase commercialisation of the area, via energy production and shipping. These are exactly the same polluting and unsustainable activities that are not only causing, but amplifying the problem of climate change.
The melting of the sea ice and the development of new businesses pose serious threats to the Arctic’s indigenous species, from polar bears to seals, fish, wolves and foxes. The entire Arctic flora and fauna is in danger. And of course, the same goes for its human inhabitants who are dependent on their natural environment. The fact that the weather is becoming less predictable and that the Arctic is more and more polluted prevents the different Arctic communities from hunting for food, and also destroys their whole culture and way of life.
Regrettably, all of these extremely serious concerns are not shared by the polluting companies. Ahead of the vote in the European Parliament, several oil companies have been putting a lot of pressure on members to make sure they can continue to profit from the Arctic melt and extend their activities in what is an incredibly vulnerable zone.
This position is clearly unacceptable. The growing interest in the region combined with the effects of global warming represent a major threat for global security and must be taken very seriously. The Arctic melt must clearly be perceived as a wake-up call and certainly not as a business opportunity!
The EU has an important role to play. It must be serious about respecting the Paris Agreement and therefore abandon the production and use of all fossil fuels. The Greens are now calling on the European Parliament to prevent dirty lobby from putting the Arctic even more at risk than it already is, and to strongly oppose any offshore hydrocarbon or mineral exploration and extraction in this very vulnerable corner of our planet, which we depend on so much.
Find additional material on the Arctic, as well as the video: the Arctic melt: a wake-up call, not a business opportunity!