The beauty of the Arctic is overwhelming. The cold, the silence and extraordinary sounds as the ice creaks, rumbles and falls. The pristine environment, with life popping out to welcome you when you least expect it. A unique place that people across the world want to protect.
Two weeks ago the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise set off from the Netherlands carrying a very special load: the voices of eight million people. Messages from around the globe calling for governments to save the Arctic from threats such as oil drilling and destructive fishing.
Here are a few of the reasons why:
- For its unique wildlife, including polar bears, narwhals and Arctic foxes
- For future generations
- Because it regulates the climate
- Because it is a global treasure worth protecting from corporate greed
As the ship stopped in Svalbard, Norway, Europe’s gateway to the Arctic, it welcomed aboard a very special guest: renowned pianist and composer, Ludovico Einaudi. With him a grand piano, to undertake his most challenging performance yet, in the Arctic surrounded by ice.
Ludovico Einaudi has turned eight million voices into music, Elegy for the Arctic, specially composed to help protect what we love. As he performed this piece for the first time — in front of a magnificent surging glacier — the music echoed across the ice, a moment that will remain in our minds forever.
The timing of Einaudi’s performance is not by chance. This week, delegates at the OSPAR Commission meeting in Tenerife, Spain, have an opportunity to take an important step in protecting the Arctic. The proposal before them would safeguard 10% of the Arctic ocean, an area roughly the size of the UK.
And it is urgent. The Arctic ocean is the least protected sea in the world, its high seas currently have no legal safeguards. As the ice cover decreases with rising temperatures, this unique area is losing its frozen shield, leaving it exposed to reckless exploitation, destructive fishing trawlers and risky oil drilling.
The OSPAR Commission has a mandate to protect the marine environment of the northeast Atlantic, including part of the Arctic ocean. But three countries, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, who are listening to corporate interests, are keen to stop that from happening.
As Arctic states, even though they do not govern over the Arctic high seas, which fall north above their national waters, their opinion is weighted heavily and their influence is great.
We must show them that what they have is unique, that the Arctic is worth protecting and not to be risked for short term profit.
Until they they change their view, those who would risk the Arctic should not be heard over those calling to protect what we love, not over Ludovico’s music, not over the piano and the glacier, not over 8 million voices.
Thank you for raising your voices to save the Arctic.
Elvira Jiménez and Erlend Tellnes are Arctic Campaigners with Greenpeace Spain and Greenpeace Nordic.