Friday 21st October 2016                 Change text size:

Pursuit of Arctic oil is “profoundly reckless”


Conservative MP and environmental journalist Zac Goldsmith has slammed oil companies that continue to ignore the risk of a spill, even after the Gulf of Mexico disaster in 2010.

Talking with Blue & Green Tomorrow about the devastating impact a major spill would have on the Arctic region, he says, “[It] would cause unimaginable damage, and yet despite the acknowledged risks, it is very clear that the major oil companies we spoke to are hopelessly unprepared.

“It is almost unbelievable that even while they plan to commit vast resources to a risky venture, they haven’t even bothered to calculate the downside for their shareholders.

“The very widespread disagreement between the experts, and even within the industry itself, about the usefulness of pretty much all the methods they will count on in the event of a major spill can only add to the feeling that their pursuit of Arctic oil is profoundly reckless.”

Goldsmith’s strong words come after Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party, urged firms to consider the impact the BP spill had on both the environment and its image.

“There is no reason to believe that any lessons have been learned from the Deepwater Horizon blowout”, she said, after an Environmental Audit Committee meeting.

“[Oil firms] seem to be shutting their eyes and crossing their fingers that they will not have a spill and it beggars belief that they are not able to tell shareholders how much it would cost to deal with a worst case scenario.

“Either it has not been done or we were not being told.

The Committee launched an inquiry into Arctic exploitation back in January, to examine what Britain can do to protect the vulnerable region.

After this announcement, Blue & Green Tomorrow spoke to Greenpeace climate campaigner, Ben Ayliffe, who highlighted the “disastrous” risks involved in attempting to extract resources from the Arctic.

And, when contacted about the revelation that oil companies have a distinct lack of spill prevention measures in place, Ayliffe said it was almost like the Deepwater Horizon disaster had never happened.

“The oil industry still has no credible plans for cleaning up an Arctic oil spill, no idea what the final cost of an accident would be for shareholders, and is relying on untried technology to prove its competence”, he claimed.

“Companies like Shell, responsible for 207 oil spills in 2011 alone, have told MPs with a straight face that its Arctic containment dome won’t be tested in ice because they don’t think the Arctic will be freezing this summer, even though its own oil spill response plan says in black and white that ice could be present at the drill site.

“This staggeringly reckless company doesn’t have a clue and should not be allowed to drill for oil in the pristine Arctic.

The continued search for ever-harder-to-reach resources is jeopardising the planet’s fight against climate change. We simply cannot afford to lose the Arctic, even though it’s disappearing at a rate of knots, right beneath our feet.

The vast mirror on top of the world that is currently reflecting the sun’s rays and keeping the Earth cool is itself rising in temperature twice as fast as anywhere else.

It is imperative that we spurn companies that are attempting to exploit it for everything its worth. Because, as Zac Goldsmith’s brother, Ben, told us, “There’s no business on a dead planet”.

You can invest in dozens of sustainable and ethical funds that either support firms that are striving to protect the region or ostracise the ones that are doing the most damage.

Ask your IFA how your money can make a difference or fill in our online form and we’ll help you.

Photo: NOAA photo library via Flickr

Related links:

Greenpeace highlights “disastrous” risks involved in Arctic exploitation

UK inquiry launched to protect vulnerable Arctic

Arctic investment fund: A response from EIA chair

US firm to launch “unethical” Arctic investment fund

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