British oil and gas drilling in the Arctic incompatible with climate change targets, warns MPs

The government must withdraw its support for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic if it will seriously respond to its international obligations to protect the planet, warned MEPs.

Human activity is already pushing the polar region to the brink, as the melting of the ice sea allows the heavily polluting ships to enter into untouched habitats, and nations enchant their rare natural resources.

The Arctic is warming at twice the speed of the rest of the planet and the resulting unusual weather patterns are already perceived in the UK – for example during this year's "Beast from the East".

In spite of these problems, the government has highlighted the importance of continuing the survey of fossil fuel arctic companies "for the coming decades".

Given that the UN urges states to adopt a more ambitious approach to reducing emissions, the Environment Committee has warned that Britain's stance is incompatible with its obligations under the Paris climate agreement and the UN's sustainable development goals.

While it is not a technically arctic state, the proximity of the United Kingdom has acquired it as an observer at the Arctic Council.

In his report, MEPs urged the government to use its influence on the council, which also includes the US and Russia to protect wild animals in the Arctic and the human population.

"If there is anywhere in the world that the principles of sustainable development should be applied, it is the Arctic," said Mary Creagh, chairwoman of the committee.

"The government should start by recognizing the incompatibility of its support for oil and gas extraction with its climate change commitments, which can be achieved by setting targets in line with sustainable development goals."

Current trends suggest that the Arctic Ocean will be free of ice during the summer in the 1950s. This opens up business opportunities for both resource mining and cruise ships.

Oil damage and damage to sea ice are among the immediate threats of increased human presence, and continued burning of long buried oil and gas deposits in the Arctic only contributes to the warming of the Earth.

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Nevertheless, the changing conditions attract large foreign interest in the region. MEPs urged the government to take advantage of the Arctic's long tradition of averting harmful operations.

"With interest in the Arctic from countries so far from China and Singapore, the United Kingdom must ensure that it remains a key player in its protection," said Mrs. Creagh.

"We are calling for greater funding for research and the strengthening of UK emissions targets."

Researcher for Sustainable Development Dr Alexandra Middleton from the University of Oulu, who was consulted for the report, stressed: "We should stop looking at the Arctic as a land of natural resources and minerals."

Rod Downie, WWF's chief polar adviser, said: "It's a clear reminder that what is happening in the Arctic will not stay in the Arctic.

"Government and businesses in the United Kingdom have to focus on sustainable development in the Arctic and at home with a clean zero target at home – which our" Keeping It Cool "report this month has proved can be achieved by 2045.

"It's time to draw a line in the snow on British oil and gas companies that use the Arctic once and for all."

A government spokesman said, "Any suggestion that we do not comply with the Paris Agreement is nonsense. We do not actively support the oil and gas exploration in the Arctic.

"We have liquidated our economy faster than any other G20, and we are the first in the world to introduce legally binding emission reduction targets. We are confident that all countries must set ambitious emission reduction targets, including the Arctic states, and we we continue to promote at the highest levels.

"The United Kingdom is a world leader in the fight against climate change, but we need to do more and we will review this report carefully."

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