European Parliament rejects total ban on oil drilling in Arctic

  • Carolin Laubre
  • 3.4.2017 21:20

On 16 March the European Parliament passed a resolution supported by 483 votes to 100, on an integrated European Union policy for the Arctic that includes a call for measures to protect the Arctic ecosystem and to keep the Arctic a low-tension and cooperation area. However, the MEPs rejected a proposal for a total ban on oil drilling and gas exploration in the Arctic, which is seen as a barometer for the EU’s future policies in the region. According to the European Union’s law, the resolution is not legally binding in any way and should be considered to be the Parliament’s official standpoint on the topic within the EU’s institutions.

The European Parliament rejected the total ban but deplored the exploration in the icy waters of Arctic, which opens up a debate about where in fact is the ice. The debate could impact Norway’s allocation of drilling leases of which many lie in marginal ice zones. The Arctic is estimated to hold 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas. Climate change brings new security and environmental challenges in the Arctic, as new navigation routes open up and geopolitical importance of the Arctic grows. This could also have an impact on the EU’s energy security, considering Norwegian gas covers more than 20 percent of the European consumption and more than half of the remaining resources are expected to be located north of the Arctic Circle.

About author: Carolin Laubre

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