“All of the nations who share borders in this remarkable region also share an obligation to act to protect it.”
(Ottawa, Canada)—March 14, 2016. As the Arctic Council’s senior officials prepare for a meeting in Fairbanks, AK, a group of Nobel Peace Laureates sent a letter today to heads of state, as members of the Council, urging them to protect vulnerable areas and the climate by removing Arctic waters from any future oil and gas exploration.
The letter, signed by the 6 members of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, highlights the urgency of taking meaningful action on climate change and leaving fossil fuels in the ground. It also calls attention to the serious risks that drilling in such a remote and sensitive region poses to Indigenous communities, wildlife, and the environment.
“Climate change is threatening hundreds of millions of lives and livelihoods across every continent, making it not only the environmental challenge of our time, but also a critical issue of human rights, justice, and equity. As recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, we believe that it is one of the greatest threats to global peace and stability,” the letter states, also noting that the impacts of global warming are especially acute in arctic regions.
The letter also comes in advance of the imminent release of the Obama Administration’s five year offshore drilling plan, which represents a critical piece of President Obama’s legacy on climate and the environment. As the current chair of the Arctic Council, the U.S. can make a strong show of leadership for other Arctic nations to follow by removing the U.S. Arctic Ocean, not just from its current plan, but from all future oil and gas exploration and production .
Noting that many members of the Arctic Council recently pledged to work to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees or less, the letter serves as a reminder that Arctic oil “is oil that we simply cannot afford to burn if we are serious about meeting our climate goals.”
“The Arctic Council has the opportunity to serve as a model of the international cooperation that will be needed as we collectively phase out fossil fuels and transition the world to cleaner, more sustainable sources of energy,” the Nobel Laureates write. “We urge you to seize this moment, to set a high standard for multilateral climate leadership, to protect the Arctic Ocean from the dangers of fossil fuel extraction, and to lead as the world builds the safe, clean, and renewable energy future we need.”
For more information, please contact:
Director, Media & Communications, Nobel Women’s Initiative