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October 14, 2021

European Commission looks to ban oil and gas exploration in Arctic

The commission and partners will work towards a multilateral legal obligation to ban further hydrocarbon reserve development.

By Archana Rani

The European Commission is seeking to ban new oil, coal and gas exploration in the Arctic to protect the region.

The proposal forms part of the EU’s efforts against climate and biodiversity crises.

EU executive’s proposal said: “The EU will insist that oil, coal and gas stay in the ground, including in Arctic regions.”

As part of this effort, the commission will initially seek potential partners to work towards a multilateral legal obligation banning further hydrocarbon reserve development in the Arctic or contiguous regions.

It would also not permit the purchase of hydrocarbons even if they were to be produced in the region.

The proposal says: “The Arctic has a huge potential for renewables (geothermal, wind, green hydrogen and hydro-energy). The development of clean energy technologies is in the interest of the Arctic and the EU.”

Some of the actions proposed by the EU under its new strategy include strengthening of research into the thawing permafrost effects that could pose risk to oil fields.

Under the EU’s new proposal, potential mitigation measures could include ‘peaceful and constructive’ dialogue and international cooperation to keep the Arctic safe and stable, as well as the introduction of stringent building standards.

It would also include measures to support the comprehensive, inclusive, and sustainable development of the Arctic regions.

The EU is also planning to open an office in Nuuk, Greenland.

European Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “The Arctic region is warming three times faster than the rest of the planet.

“The EU is committed to make the Arctic safe, stable, sustainable and prosperous. Safe and stable, through enhanced international cooperation; sustainable and prosperous, by ensuring a strong link between the EU’s Arctic engagement and our climate policy, the European Green Deal and its blue economy dimension.”

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