Warnings over Arctic drilling

The Government has been accused of "complacently standing by" while oil and gas drilling starts in the Arctic despite the risks to the environment and climate.

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Greenpeace: Government's Arctic policy is 'reckless'

The Government's Arctic policy is both reckless and internally inconsistent, the political director of Greenpeace UK said today, after a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned drilling in the area could cause "dangerous" climate change.

Ruth Davis said:

Drilling for oil in the Arctic is incompatible with the UK's climate change goals and creates unmanageable risks to a unique and vulnerable ecosystem.

Whilst the Government claims that protecting this pristine environment is central to the UK's stance on the Arctic, its failure to face up to the dangers of drilling in the far north suggests its real interests lie in promoting the irresponsible plans of companies like Shell.

UK has 'strong environmental interests' in the Arctic

The Government has said they disagree with a new report by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), which issued warnings over "risky" drilling in the Arctic.

A spokesman said:

[The] UK is not an Arctic State and it is not for us to tell other countries which resources they can and cannot extract from their own sovereign territory.

We also believe that our approach to oil and gas exploration in the Arctic is consistent with our commitment to limit average global temperature increase to two degrees.

The UK does have strong environmental, economic, scientific and political interests in the Arctic and this summer we will be publishing an Arctic Policy Framework for the first time.

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Arctic environment 'affects weather in the UK'

The government's exploration for new reserves in the Arctic is "needlessly risky", MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said after a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned it could cause "dangerous" climate change.

EAC chairwoman Joan Walley said:

What happens in the Arctic will affect the UK, impacting our weather systems and biodiversity.

Yet this Government is complacently standing by and watching new oil and gas drilling in the region, even though companies like Shell cannot prove they could clean up an oil spill in such harsh conditions.

David Cameron should visit the Arctic again to see the huge changes that have taken place since he was last there and renew his commitment to protecting the region.

The rapidly-disappearing Arctic sea ice should be a wake-up call for his Government to tackle climate change, not pave the way for a corporate carve-up of the region's resources.

Government warned over 'risky' Arctic drilling

The Government has been accused of "complacently standing by" while oil and gas drilling starts in the Arctic despite the risks to the environment and climate.

Warning over 'risky' Arctic drilling. Credit: Reuters/Denis Sarrazin/Center for Northern Studies/Handout

Companies such as Shell are not yet able to demonstrate they could clean up an oil spill in the harsh but pristine conditions of the Arctic, MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said.

And a recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that only a third of already proven fossil fuels can be burnt before 2050 if global temperatures are to be kept from rising by more than 2C, widely regarded as the threshold for "dangerous" climate change.

The MPs reiterated their call for a sanctuary to be established in the Arctic, which is protected from oil and gas development.

Read: Six climate activists arrested after climbing 310m Shard

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