Arc­tic Oil “Un­drill­able” Amid Global Warm­ing


OSLO (Reuters) - An ar­chi­tect of the Paris cli­mate agree­ment urged gov­ern­ments on Tues­day to halt oil ex­plo­ration in the Arc­tic, say­ing drilling was not eco­nom­i­cal and warm­ing threat­ened the en­vi­ron­men­tally frag­ile re­gion.

Chris­tiana Figueres, for­merly head of the U.N. Cli­mate Change Sec­re­tariat when the Paris ac­cord was reached by al­most 200 na­tions in 2015, told Reuters by tele­phone “the Arc­tic has been ren­dered un­drill­able.”

The past three years have been the hottest since records be­gan in the 19th cen­tury, and Figueres said the heat was a threat to ev­ery­thing from Aus­tralia’s Great Bar­rier Reef to ice in Antarc­tica.

The for­mer Costa Ri­can diplo­mat who cam­paigns for a peak in global emis­sions by 2020 said it made no eco­nomic sense to ex­plore in the Arc­tic, partly be­cause it was likely to take years to de­velop any finds. Cap­i­tal in­vest­ment would be bet­ter used de­vel­op­ing re­new­able en­er­gies such as so­lar and wind to cut emis­sions, she said.

“The stakes are vis­i­bly higher than they were just a few years ago,” she said.

Figueres will give a speech in Oslo on Tues­day at the Busi­ness for Peace Foun­da­tion, which seeks to pro­mote eth­i­cal busi­ness prac­tices.

The Paris Agree­ment sets a goal of end­ing the fos­sil fuel era in the sec­ond half of this cen­tury. It has been weak­ened by a planned pull­out by U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who doubts main­stream sci­en­tific find­ings that global warm­ing is man-made. Many gov­ern­ments and com­pa­nies favour Arc­tic drilling.

Last month, Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion be­gan en­vi­ron­men­tal re­views for oil and gas drilling in a sec­tion of the Arc­tic na­tional Wildlife Refuge.

In Nor­way, Sta­toil and other com­pa­nies plan to keep up ex­plo­ration in the Arc­tic Bar­ents Sea, which is ice-free fur­ther north than other parts of the Arc­tic thanks to the warm Gulf Stream.

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