The European Union (EU) will demand a ban on mining new oil, coal and gas fields in the Arctic to protect a region severely affected by climate change, according to a proposal for the bloc’s new Arctic strategy released Wednesday.
The European Commission’s proposal reflects the EU’s efforts to strengthen its role on the world stage, although it has limited influence in the Arctic. It is not a member of the Arctic Council, which is the regional coordinating body, although three of its states – Denmark, Finland and Sweden – are.
“The EU is committed to ensuring that oil, coal and gas remain in the ground, including in arctic regions,” the EU executive’s proposal said, while acknowledging that the bloc itself still imports oil and gas from the region.
“To this end, the commission will work with partners towards a multilateral legal obligation not to allow any further development of hydrocarbon reserves in the Arctic or contiguous regions, nor to purchase such hydrocarbons if they were to be produced. “
Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country is one of the world’s largest oil and gas exporters, excavates fossils
fuels in the Arctic said Moscow would eventually benefit from such a ban due to rising prices.
“If such decisions lead to some price volatility, [Russia’s economy] wouldn’t suffer that much. This is because we will reduce production, but get the prices we want, ”Putin said at an energy conference in Moscow.
Vulnerable to climate change
The Arctic is one of the regions most affected by climate change. It has warmed three times faster than the planet over the past 50 years. This has caused the ice covering the land and sea to melt, sea level rise and permafrost to thaw.
The EU is also aiming, as part of its new strategy, to step up research into the effects of thawing permafrost which can endanger oil fields and threaten to release greenhouse gases as well as dangerous trapped germs. in frozen ground.
“More than 70 percent of Arctic infrastructure and 45 percent of oil fields are built on permafrost,” says the document, which has yet to be approved by the 27 EU member states.
Potential mitigation measures could include developing local cooling and stabilization methods and introducing more stringent building standards, the commission said.
He also suggested creating a surveillance and early warning system to detect germs such as anthrax released by thawed soil.
The Arctic Council includes Canada, Iceland, Norway, Russia and the United States as well as the three EU states, as well as six indigenous organizations. It acts as a forum for cooperation. The EU has requested observer status.
To strengthen its regional presence, the EU is considering opening an office in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, as the US did last year.