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.
Senior Specialist, Sustainable Development
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Why it matters
Significant oil reserves lie offshore, in the Arctic's shallow and biologically productive shelf seas.
Oil spills from blowouts, pipeline leaks or shipping accidents pose a tremendous risk to Arctic ecosystems. Marine ecosystems are particularly vulnerable.
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Norway, the West Kamchatka Shelf in Russia, and the waters of Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas should be permanently withdrawn from offshore oil and gas development.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.
As the Arctic's ice melts, the world is eyeing the shipping routes and natural resources of the Arctic Ocean.
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.