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Beatles star attempts to save the polar bear

Greenpeace wants Rio+20 to issue a UN resolution to ban oil exploration and unsustainable fishing. This picture was taken in 2009 Photo: The United Nations.

Sir Paul McCartney, Penelope Cruz and Robert Redford are among the stars backing a new campaign to protect the Arctic from oil drilling and unsustainable fishing.

Greenpeace are calling for ministers at the Rio+20 climate change talks to pass a UN resolution to create a sanctuary around the North Pole and ban further exploration of the wider Arctic.

The area is being increasingly encroached by humans as temperatures continue to rise and ice caps melt.

This picture was taken in 2009 Credit: The United Nations.

Native people say their traditional way of life is under threat as large scale oil companies have already started drilling at offshore sites across the Arctic.

Greenpeace say the Arctic belongs to the whole world because it is defined in international law as the high seas. They say the future of the polar bear depends on the Arctic being preserved, and the earth's temperature being stabilised. Paul McCartney said it was crucial for governments to take action before it was too late:

The Arctic is one of the most beautiful and last untouched regions on our planet, but now it's under threat. Some countries and companies want to open it up to oil drilling and industrial fishing and do to the Arctic what they've done to the rest of our fragile planet.

Russia, Canada, the US, Norway and Denmark are each making territorial claims on the seabed to allow oil companies in.

Oil companies already drill off the coast of the Arctic. Greenpeace say they are destroying the h Credit: Greenpeace

Greenpeace are calling for a ban on offshore oil drilling as they say drilling is damaging the region's already fragile ecosystems and threatening the survival of the four million indigenous people who live there, as well as the native animals such as the polar bear.

The former Beatles star said it was "madness" to search for oil in the Arctic, and that the Rio+20 conference was the time to "take a stand."

It seems madness that we are willing to go to the ends of the Earth to find the last drops of oil when our best scientific minds are telling us we need to get off fossil fuels to give our children a future.

At some time, in some place, we need to take a stand. I believe that time is now and that place is the Arctic."

Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson is also backing the bid to make the uninhabited area around the North Pole off limits to oil drilling and unsustainable fishing. His name and that of hundreds of thousands others are are being written on an "Arctic scroll" petition which Greenpeace hopes to get signed by one million people.

An electronic polar bear walked around London today to highlight dangers of continued Arctic exploration. Credit: Elizabeth Dalziel/Greenpeace/PA Wire

The petition will then be planted on an Arctic seabed, 2.5 miles (4km) below the ice and marked by a "flag for the future".

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