Greenpeace applauds European Parliament call to protect the Arctic

Press release - March 12, 2014
Brussels - Today’s European Parliament resolution calling on the European Commission, the EU’s External Action Services and EU governments to protect the fragile Arctic environment is an encouraging initiative, according to Greenpeace. The resolution, adopted today by a cross party majority, backs the establishment of a conservation area in the waters around the North Pole and a moratorium on Arctic fisheries. Regarding oil drilling, the Parliament stressed the need for a binding agreement on pollution prevention in the Arctic Council.

In October 2013, 118 MEPs from 22 countries and 7 political groups signed a solidarity statement for a group of Greenpeace activists and freelance journalists detained in Russia after a peaceful protest calling for the protection of the Arctic

Greenpeace has been actively protesting against oil drilling in the region. In late 2013, twenty-eight Greenpeace activists and crew members, and two journalists were held in custody in Russia for a hundred days for a protest against Arctic drilling by energy giant Gazprom.

Greenpeace EU climate policy director Joris den Blanken said: “It is high time for EU foreign ministers to weigh in and speak out clearly in support of concrete measures to protect the Arctic. Companies like Shell, Statoil, Exxon and Gazprom are still blindly rushing into the Arctic, but the call for defending this region is gaining momentum and EU governments should now join the movement. They should not wait until it is too late.

Grossly inadequate oil spill response plans and capacity, when coupled with the inability to clean up oil spills in icy water, make drilling in the region highly dangerous.

While the Arctic environment is increasingly threatened by an irresponsible rush for oil and fragile fish stocks, the last policy adopted by EU foreign ministers on the region dates back to 2009. Greenpeace therefore welcomes the European Parliament call on EU foreign and security high representative Catherine Ashton and EU foreign ministers to speak out and act.  

The proposal for a conservation area in the waters around the North Pole follows the pledge by over 5 million people in support of a global Arctic sanctuary. This global concern was reinforced in September last year, when the government of Finland called for the establishment of a marine reserve in the waters around the North Pole.

The proposal for an Arctic fisheries moratorium was initiated by the United States and is already supported by Denmark, Greenland and Canada.

Joris den Blanken
– Greenpeace EU climate policy director: +32 (0)476 961 375 (mobile),

Greenpeace EU pressdesk: +32 (0)2 2741911,


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