Stronger safeguards for Arctic drilling needed: UK MPs
“The Arctic is facing rapid meltdown and today, with this report, we’ve seen politicians from all sides working together to consult scientists, stakeholders and civil society", says WWF's Rod Downie. "Now the UK government, and governments and industries across the world, need to heed the warning signs from the Arctic and act with urgency and ambition to tackle climate change.”
The Committee calls for a halt on drilling until:
- A pan-Arctic oil spill response standard is in place
- A stricter financial liability regime for oil and gas operations is introduced that requires companies to prove that they can meet the costs of cleaning up.
- An oil and gas industry group is set up to peer-review companies’ spill response plans and operating practices, reporting publicly.
- Further independent research and testing on oil spill response techniques in Arctic conditions is conducted, including an assessment of their environmental side-effects.
- An internationally recognised environmental sanctuary is established in at least part of the Arctic.
Receding ice in the Arctic is spurring a "gold rush" for oil and gas without proper preparation, proven prevention techniques or response infrastructure in place. The potential for environmental damage is enormous, as demonstrated by a recent oil spill model for the Prirazlomnoye project in Russia's Pechora Sea. The abrupt cancellation of a Shell drilling project off Alaska earlier this week further underlines the lack of preparation by governments and oil companies for the real risk and unpredictable nature of working in the Arctic.