Arctic Deal Denounced By Environmentalists

The new rush for money and power is on as nations begin to argue as to who owns what in Artic regions of the world. An agreement signed in Greenland by ministers from Russia, the US, Norway, Denmark and Canada has aroused the anger of many environmentalists who fear it heralds the beginning of a new scramble for oil resources and the environment by dammed. Last year Russia planted its flag on the seabed to underline its territorial claims, Denmark planted a flag on Hans island that is also claimed by Canada which has made sounds of establishing a military base in the area. The five nation declaration said all signatories agree to be bound by the 1982 Law of the sea which determines territorial claims according to coastlines and underseas continental shelves. Of course, everyone insists the nations will be judicial in dealing with environmental issues.

According to Mike Townsley, of Greenpeace, “they are going to use the law of the sea to carve up the raw materials, but they are ignoring the law of common sense. These are the same fossil fuels that are driving climate change in the first place.” Norway is already claiming there is no further need for interantional law since the five nations are responsible entitites.

What happens if a nation that has not signed the agreement and doesn’t have territory that is close to the Artic decides to do a little oil drilling? Who decides what is or is not legal– the five nations?

  • Caitlyn

    With regard to oil drilling, you asked “Who decides what is or is not legal” The five nations?”

    The answer depends on location. In the areas of the continental shelf, including the extended shelf as confirmed by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, the exploitation of minerals, including oil and gas, falls under the jurisdiction of the coastal state. In the area beyond the continental shelf it falls to the International Seabed authority. It is unlikely, however, that oil and gas resources will be found beyond the continental shelf because ocean deposits of oil and gas are generally, if not always, found in the shelf.

    The 5-nation agreement confirms the rule of the Law of the Sea Convention, which has been ratified by 154 nations plus the European Community. The states that have neither signed nor ratified the LOS Convention are few, mostly inland former soviet republics or poor developing nations. The US has signed the Agreement on Implementation and has declared it will follow the LOS provisions while if seeks Senate advice and Consent to join.

    Most environmental groups support the LOS Convention and work with it, rather than try to supplant it because it is in their interest world wide.