Expansion of oil drilling could threaten Arctic species
Oslo, Norway – The future health of some polar bears and bowhead whales in the Barents Sea is being decided by Norway’s politicians before the end of the month. The Norwegian parliament will either follow the advice of scientists and protect a globally important area at the edge of Arctic sea ice or allow even more oil and gas development in the region. WWF’s Arctic Programme wants twitter users to join them on May 13 in asking Norway to choose nature over oil.
Karoline Andaur, CEO WWF-Norway said: “The voices of people from all over the globe can send a powerful message to the Norwegian parliament to protect life in the marginal ice zone from expanded oil drilling. Norway is a small country, but our share of carbon emissions is huge due to our oil and gas industry. We want people from all corners of the planet to speak out against Arctic drilling so that our politicians understand that our international reputation is on the line.”
The area where Arctic sea ice meets the open ocean is known as the marginal ice zone. It stretches like a belt across the Arctic, thousands of kilometers long as the extent of the ice expands and retreats throughout the year. The area has supported unique biodiversity such as phytoplankton, zooplankton, fish, polar bears, birds, seals and whales for millions of years. This habitat is under growing threat from climate change and increased oil and gas development will add further pressure on this vulnerable area.
Dr. Peter Winsor, WWF Arctic Programme director said: “The Arctic Ocean is home for unique biodiversity that supports ecosystems and people in the Arctic and beyond. The risks associated with the development of new Arctic oil and gas projects are unacceptably high and incompatible with Paris climate commitments. Governments need to shift current oil and gas subsidies to the development of renewable energies.”
Oil concessions in Norway have been an increasingly contentious issue since 2013 because of the area’s unique and sensitive ecology. Norwegian politicians are now debating a new marine management framework for the Barents Sea that will enact either a smaller or larger marginal ice zone. The latest advice from scientists to the government is unequivocal – the marginal ice zone must be enlarged to protect the rich biodiversity that globally important fish stocks depend upon. But last month, the Norwegian government recommended a new protection plan that will cover only 14 per cent of what scientists recommend - falling far short of what is needed to protect this vital Arctic lifeline.
For further information:
Leanne Clare | Sr. Manager Communications, Arctic Programme | firstname.lastname@example.org
Marian Rui Slettebakken | Sr. Press Officer, WWF-Norway | email@example.com
Notes to editors:
On May 13, 2020 WWF wants twitter user to copy the following tweet:
Vulnerable areas in the #Arctic #Ocean need to be protected.
@NorwayMFA, #Norway needs to listen to science. Stop the expansion of oil & gas leases beyond the Marginal Ice Zone in the Arctic and protect the sea ice edge so nature can thrive.
Nature over oil #SaveTheIceEdge
Right now, politicians in Norway are making an important decision about the future of the Arctic and the unique wildlife, like polar bears and bowhead whales, that live there. They must decide whether to protect or not to protect the marginal ice zone -- one of the world’s most important and threatened marine ecosystems -- from even more oil and gas development. Help us send the Norwegian government a message on May 13.
The marginal ice zone is teeming with biodiversity and is critical for the survival of many threatened Arctic species. The unique nature in this area is also essential for the rest of the globe as it supports enormous fisheries.