Greenpeace urges U.S. Arctic Council focus on environmental protection

Group slams Canada’s chair for granting “the oil industry unfettered access to Arctic leaders”


Greenpeace launches its

Greenpeace launches its “Save the Arctic Campaign” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012, during the Rio +20 earth summit, using a balloon in the shape of a polar bear. (FILE PHOTO)

Actors linked with the environmental activist group Greenpeace are urging the United States to focus on environmental protection after it takes the chair of the Arctic Council in Iqaluit April 24.

British actor Emma Thompson published an open letter to retired Coast Guard admiral Robert Papp, the U.S. special representative for the Arctic, asking for protection of the Arctic environment to be put at the top of the agenda for the U.S. chairmanship.

“Protecting the Arctic from oil drilling goes hand in hand with protecting the world from the worst impacts of climate change,” Thompson said in her letter to Papp.

In an April 24 news release, Greenpeace also slammed the outgoing Canadian chairmanship of the Arctic Council, saying it produced “poor outcomes that saw corporate interest acquire a stronger voice in the pan-Arctic forum, and environmental protection fall low in the priority list.”

“During Canada’s chairship, the oil industry was given unfettered access to Arctic leaders through the creation of the Arctic Economic Council. We’re pleased to see the U.S. is making climate change mitigation and ocean protection a priority for their two year term,” said the Greenpeace Canada Arctic spokesperson, Farrah Khan.

Greenpeace said Arctic Council foreign ministers have all received framed copies of its “Declaration on the Future of the Arctic,” signed by “almost 2,000 prominent figures” around the world.

The International Declaration on the Future of the Arctic has been supported by scientists, politicians, religious leaders, intellectuals and celebrities, including Canadian author Margaret Atwood, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and English businessman Richard Branson, Greenpeace said.

It’s part of Greenpeace’s Save the Arctic movement for creating an oil-free Arctic and establishing a sanctuary in the uninhabited areas around the North Pole.

Hollywood stars Robert Redford and Penelope Cruz and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney were among the first supporters of Greenpeace’s call for an “Arctic Sanctuary,” which would see the Arctic Ocean protected from oil drilling, industrial fishing and military activity.

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