"Rising global temperatures — caused by the burning of fossil fuels — ironically look set to clear the way for a new oil and gas gold rush in the Arctic," Labour MP Joan Walley, chair of the British government's environmental audit committee, said last week in announcing parliamentary hearings on the Arctic.
"We will be looking at what the U.K. government can do to ensure that the Arctic is protected and whether it is even possible to drill for oil and gas safely in such remote regions," she added. "Concerns over climate change should be recognized internationally as a limiting factor on any new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic."
The British committee's planned examination of the ecological risks posed by northern resource extraction, increased shipping and other activity in the region, such as fishing, isn't the first attempted intervention by a non-polar nation in what Canada and the four other Arctic Ocean coastal countries — Russia, the U.S., Denmark and Norway — generally consider their exclusive domain.
In 2010, a European Union bid to gain "observer" status on the international Arctic Council was rejected by member nations, including Canada, largely because of widespread European opposition to the seal hunt.
Adapted from an article by Randy Boswell for The Gazette. Read the full article (external site).