Harper in the ArcticRecently Canada announced that it would formally submit a claim for 1.7 million km of Arctic seabed, including the North Pole.

With this move, Prime Minister Harper is attempting to push the limits of oil production despite scientific evidence proving that the Arctic is in danger and should be left alone. Last week an article was published in Energy Policy, a respected academic journal, saying that oil reserves which lie deep beneath the ground (like the tar sands) or the ocean (like the Arctic) should remain untouched to prevent a climate catastrophe.

“ These results suggest that the development of Arctic regions is largely inconsistent with an evens chance of limiting average global temperature change to 2 °C and that it may be reasonable to classify Arctic resources as ‘un-burnable’; this therefore calls into question the rationale for ongoing exploration efforts in Arctic regions, if stated commitments to emission reduction are to be taken seriously.”

Despite mounting scientific research against Arctic oil drilling, the Harper Government is jumping at the chance to lay claim to Arctic areas that are believed to contain oil reserves. The claim, according to the Harper government, would redefine the continental shelf in the Arctic and will be "a legacy for Canadians," "an investment in long-term economic prosperity," because "the North is an essential part of the collective heritage and Canada's future”. However, the development of oil in the Arctic is guaranteed to accelerate the climate crisis and there is a significant risk of spills in this unpredictable area.

Surely the disappearance of the Arctic ice is not the legacy that Canadians want to leave to their children? Already, the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average and could experience a warming of 11 degrees by 2100. Instead of seeing the melting Arctic as an opportunity to extract oil, Canada – as head of the Arctic Council - should be looking at ways to protect this beautiful area, home to communities and wildlife.

To date over five million people all over the world have signed on to defend the Arctic - they want to see this region become a sanctuary and put a permanent ban on destructive oil drilling everywhere in the Arctic including what Canada is claiming. It’s time for our government to do the same.  Save the Arctic: www.savethearctic.org