"Oil on Greenland would be a disaster."
"Energy companies should not drill for crude in Arctic waters."
"The risk of an oil spill in such an environmentally sensitive area is simply too high."
Sounds familiar? Today, it’s not Greenpeace saying this – it’s a major oil company.
Total has warned today in a Financial Times article against drilling for oil in the Arctic. The dangers of Arctic oil are nothing new – that’s exactly what we’ve been saying for a long time now – but this is the first time a major oil company says the same. The Canadian government should take note and stop rolling out the red carpet for oil companies that want to drill in Canada's Beaufort Sea.
When an oil baron warns against Arctic drilling the world should sit up and take notice. Total admitting that an oil spill in the ice would be devastating flies in the face of the bland reassurances from the likes of Shell and Gazprom that they can operate safely in the most extreme environment on Earth.
That's not to say that Total is a friend to the planet: While Total has not invested in oil drilling in the Arctic, the company is closely monitoring Arctic gas projects and is a key player in Canada's tar sands--one of the most destructive and greenhouse gas-intensive projects on Earth. In the context of global climate change, these extreme pursuits of fossil fuels are simply unacceptable. But in one area at least, the company has come to its senses and realized that some risks are not worth taking.
Almost 2 million people have said no to Arctic drilling already. A major oil company might be a strange bedfellow – but this is simply common sense.