Greenpeace leaks draft copy of Arctic Council oil spill treaty
Council observer applicant attempts to build support for its anti-drilling position
Greenpeace, an applicant for permanent observer status on the Arctic Council, has leaked a draft copy of a treaty on marine oil pollution that Arctic Council member states are expected to sign this May in Sweden. (See document embedded below.)
The organization sent the leaked document to selected news organizations, including Canada’s Globe and Mail, to firm up support for its campaign against undersea oil exploration in Arctic waters.
“The agreement asks so little of Canada and the other Arctic states, that it is effectively useless,” Christy Ferguson of Greenpeace Canada said in a news release.
In the summer of 2011, Greenpeace launched a campaign aimed at disrupting Cairn Energy’s exploration work off the west coast of Greenland.
Greenpeace activists boarded a Cairn drill rig and were eventually arrested by authorities in Greenland.
In 2011, Greenpeace attempted to occupy a Cairn drill rig in waters off Turkey, and in 2012 they protested the work of a drill rig in the Russian Arctic operated by Gazprom.
At the Arctic Council’s next ministerial meeting in Sweden this May, Canada will assume the chairmanship of the organization.
If the proposed oil spill treaty is signed, it would be the eight-nation body’s second binding agreement. The first was an agreement on search-and-rescue co-operation signed in 2011 at a ministerial meeting held in Nuuk.
In the 21-page draft treaty, Arctic Council member states agree to maintain national systems for “responding promptly and effectively to oil pollution incidents.”
Each state agrees to co-operate, “as appropriate,” with other states in responding to a oil spill and agrees to the pre-positioning of equipment for us combatting oil spills.
Member states also agree to conduct oil spill exercises, set up plans and communications capabilities and establish mechanisms for co-ordinating spill response work.
All states agree to notify any other state that may be affected by an oil spill and make requests for help to other Arctic Council members.
The draft treaty also contains provisions on reimbursement of costs, joint exercises, exchanges of information, and the movement of response resources across the borders.
The parties will review the implementation of the agreement no later than one year after it comes into force.
In a Feb. 4 news release, Greenpeace Canada scoffed at the draft treaty.
“Despite promises that this would be the first legally-binding agreement of its kind, it fails to outline any essential response equipment, methods for capping wells, or cleaning up oiled habitat and wildlife, relying instead on vague statements that Arctic nations should ‘ensure’ they try and take ‘appropriate steps within available resources,’” Ferguson said.