EU wants a ban on oil and gas exploration in the Arctic

Polar bear looks into camera standing on ice surrounded by grey water
Polar bear walking on sea ice in the Arctic, photo: Vladsilver via Canva

The European Union (EU) wants a ban on new oil and gas projects in the Arctic to protect the region severely affected by climate change, according to a proposal for the EU’s new Arctic strategy published on Wednesday. 

The EU wants to be a more significant player worldwide in the fight against climate change, but it has very little influence in the Arctic. It is not a member of the Arctic Council, but three of its member states – Denmark, Finland and Sweden – are.

“The EU is committed to ensuring that oil, coal and gas stay in the ground, including in Arctic regions,” the proposal said. It also acknowledged that the EU itself still imports oil and gas extracted from the Arctic.

In 2017, European Parliament lawmakers voted against a motion to ban oil and gas exploration in the region. 

Without ice, polar bears can’t survive
The Arctic is heavily affected by climate change. The area has warmed so much that ice covering land and sea started melting. 

The tipping point for irreversible global warming may have already been triggered, scientist Markus Rex who led the biggest-ever expedition to the Arctic, said in June.

“This sea ice cover is gradually shrinking, and it is an important living space for polar bears,” Stefanie Arndt, who specialises in sea ice physics, said.

With ice melting so fast in the Arctic, it’s difficult for polar bears to find food. In July last year, scientists said that climate change is starving polar bears into extinction.

The EU plans to open an office in Greenland’s capital Nuuk to boost its regional presence.

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