Arctic Oil and Gas
The Arctic could hold some of the world's largest remaining untapped oil and gas reserves. Sustainability must be prioritized over exploitation in the Arctic because the implications are global.
Arctic countries need to lead the cut of CO2
The hottest temperature ever measured above the Arctic circle was recorded in Verkhoyansk, Siberia this past June. In fact, the + 38.6°C reading was just one of many highs that made June 2020 in Siberia five degrees warmer than any June from 1981 to 2010. A recent Oxford University-led study shows man-made climate change due to carbon emissions made this Siberian heatwave 600 times more likely.Read more
Why it matters
The Arctic's shallow and biologically productive seas are also rich with oil reserves. But oil exploration poses a tremendous risk to vulnerable Arctic ecosystems and communities. Oil and gas development could also damage fisheries, tourism and other, more sustainable economic activities. The production of Arctic oil and gas contributes even more to the climate crisis through increased greenhouse gas emissions.
Switch to renewable energyWe urgently need to transition towards a 100% renewable future through the development of clean energy sources. Governments need to finance renewable energy in the Arctic and beyond instead of subsidizing oil and gas.
©Brian Abeling / CC BY NC
No new development without effective spill responseWe lack the demonstrated ability to respond to and effectively contain or clean up major oil spills in the Arctic. Arctic spills can contaminate local environments for decades, and effectively wipe out local populations of certain species, affecting local livelihoods and food security.
Protect ecologically valuable areasEcologically valuable areas, like the Lofoten and Vesteraalen islands of coastal Norway, the West Kamchatka Shelf in Russia, and the waters of Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas should be permanently withdrawn from offshore oil and gas development.
Quiet the oceansWe’re asking industry to keep seismic testing, which can damage the hearing of marine mammals, far from key wildlife habitat.
©VDOS Global / WWF-Canada
How we work
Whales depend on sound to survive. WWF is working to limit sound pollution in Arctic waters by making parts of the ocean important for whales off limits to particularly loud industrial activities.
For more than a decade, WWF has worked to stop offshore oil and gas development that threatens the wildlife and local communities that thrive in the Arctic’s often brutal environment.
WWF is working in Norway to make areas such as Lofoten permanently off limits to oil drilling, because of the natural values of the region, and the economic value of the local fishery.
WWF promotes marine governance in the Arctic that includes cooperation and biodiversity protection within the Arctic Council. WWF-Russia previously participated in negotiations on legally binding agreement on Oil Spill Response, and following its approval, promotes its implementation in Russia.
WWF is advocating for renewable energy, and piloting renewable solutions with some Arctic communities.
WWF works to prevent and reduce the negative impact of oil, gas and mining on the Arctic environment by pushing companies to strengthen environmental responsibility and by improving the regulatory framework.
WWF has mapped the enormous potential reach of an oil spill in the Barents Sea.
Millenia of evolution have prepared Arctic species like the polar bear, walrus and narwhal for life on and around the sea ice. Now their habitat is radically shifting in a matter of decades.
A new Arctic needs new rules. As climate change causes the Arctic's ice to melt and new areas to open up, the region is facing unprecedented changes and serious threats.