The European Union called for Arctic oil, coal and gas to remain in the ground, as it announced its aspiration to play a bigger role in the world’s northernmost region.
The EU, which has three member states with arctic territory, said there was a “geopolitical necessity” for it to be involved in the region, as global warming opens up competition for resources and the prospect of new sea lanes.
In a policy document released on Wednesday, the European Commission pledged to aim for “a multilateral legal obligation to no longer allow the development of hydrocarbon reserves in the Arctic or contiguous regions,” which would include a pact not to buy fuel. fossils that are developed. .
Earlier this year, US President Joe Biden suspended oil drilling licenses in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, overturning a decision made by his predecessor Donald Trump. The Canadian government also issued a five-year moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean in 2016.
But the other great Arctic state, Russia, is highly unlikely to join a moratorium anytime soon. For Russia, the natural resources of the Arctic are worth 10% of its economic output, and the Kremlin is considering new sea routes. Last year, Rosneft began drilling two wells in the Kara Sea in the Russian Arctic after a previous project was suspended due to Western sanctions concerns.
The EU is a net importer of arctic oil and gas and estimates that it is responsible for 36% of arctic black carbon deposition, which accelerates global warming by darkening icebergs and lands that otherwise would reflect the sun’s rays.
EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “The Arctic region is warming three times faster than the rest of the planet. Melting ice and thawing permafrost in the Arctic are further accelerating climate change and having enormous ripple effects. Sinkevičius promised a strong link between EU engagement in the Arctic and climate policy.
The document was written by Sinkevičius and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. It also reflects a concern not to allow other powers, like Russia and China, to dominate the region. “The increased interest in Arctic resources and transport routes could turn the region into an arena of local and geopolitical competition and possible tensions, possibly threatening EU interests,” the document said.
Five of the eight members of the Arctic Council are either EU Member States (Sweden, Finland, Denmark) or closely associated with the EU (Norway and Iceland). Denmark’s Arctic territory, Greenland, chose to leave the European Economic Community in 1985, although it remains an autonomous part of Denmark. The EU now wants to establish an office in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland.
Canada, Russia and the United States are the three other members of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental body designed to promote cooperation in the region.