Today, the Greenland Bureau of Mineral and Petroleum invited the world’s biggest oil companies to a meeting that can have extreme importance for the future of the Arctic. Greenland wants to open up an untouched area of the North-East Greenland waters; oil companies such as Shell, BP and Statoil have thrown all caution over board and are ready to drill. But today we decided to tell the oil companies the truth - and they were surprisingly willing to listen.
When the oil industry people arrived to the site of the meeting, Greenpeace activists greeted them with a red carpet drenched in oil, hand-banners, and a huge floating banner that read“Protect the Arctic: No License to Drill”. This should be enough to remind them that they cannot ruin the pristine Arctic without resistance. Historically, the oil companies have again and again proven that they can ignore all criticism and don’t mind ruining the environment in their reckless hunt for profit.
So, we decided that we needed to be dead certain that we this time had the full attention of the oil companies. To ensure this, we arranged our own get-together just downstairs from the official meeting. We booked a meeting room and set it up in nicely with coffee and cake for the nice oil people. When they arrived at the venue, our friendly activists (not the ones with hand-banners and the floating banner), welcomed oil industry people and told them that the meeting was unfortunately moved to another floor due to the annoying Greenpeace activists.
All the oil company representatives – from Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, Statoil and NunaOil – politely came along to our meeting instead of a meeting with the Greenland representatives. And instead of listening to a sales pitch about the economic prospects of ruining the Arctic, they were told the truth about Arctic drilling. Politely, they all listened to a presentation about the real consequences of Arctic oil drillings. After half an hour, they didn’t have a clue about what was going on, and even when the last slide came up, they were oblivious to what had happened!
Now, we are at least certain that the oil companies cannot claim they are unaware of the huge risks and environmental consequences of drilling in the Arctic.
Jon Burgwald is a Polar campaigner for Greenpeace Nordic.