The Scottish Court of Session has denied Cairn Energy (the wildcat oil firm that spent over US $1 billion failing to find oil off the coast of Greenland) a permanent injunction against Greenpeace International following a peaceful protest by Greenpeace UK at Cairn's headquarters in July 2011.
The Greenpeace UK protest involved a group of activists in polar bear costumes who entered Cairn's headquarters to look for the company's notorious oil spill response plan, which it had repeatedly refused to make public. When Cairn was eventually forced to release the plan by the Greenland ombudsman, it was heavily criticised.
The symbolic protest lasted for a few hours, but remarkably Cairn then asked the local courts for a permanent injunction against Greenpeace International aimed at stopping protests that could disrupt its operations. A preposterous element of the injunction was the order never to use photos of the polar bears in Cairn's HQ again – but they're still on the web.
In a nutshell, Cairn was claiming that a high-level and top secret global conspiracy existed between Greenpeace International and Greenpeace UK to send a handful of fancy dress polar bears into Cairn’s swish offices in Edinburgh.
Obviously, this is ludicrous and the Scottish court agreed with us.
Cairn was obviously trying to use the court to stop campaigns to protect the Arctic. Greenpeace International always takes responsibility for its actions. It’s a core tenet of civil disobedience and Cairn's attempt to stifle public protest over its operations looks as ill-judged as its Arctic drilling programme.
And just as Cairn got thrown out of court, the new Greenlandic government moved to stop oil companies like Shell, Statoil and Husky, that want to carve up the unique Greenlandic environment.
Greenlandic Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond’s government has decided to pause the issuing of new licences for oil companies looking to drill in its waters, including the distant and icy waters of East Greenland. This incredible place was supposed to be divided among the interested oil companies later this year, but that has now been stopped — at least for now. This is yet another blow to the oil industry's crumbling attempt to destroy the Arctic.
Hopefully, the Greenland government will soon also realise how risky oil exploration in West Greenland is. We are not there yet, but we are at lot closer than we were yesterday.
The challenge for us now is to make sure that the Arctic is kept off-limits to the rest of the oil industry.
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