Norway Reluctant to Ban Deep-Sea Mining in the Arctic


Credit: Øyvind Hagen/Equinor

Thirty-two countries have pledged to stop all deep-sea mining in polar regions at the One Planet - Polar Summit, which ended in Paris on 10 November. However, Norway has not signed the summit’s conclusions.

Paris held the world’s first international summit to safeguard the poles and glaciers last week. During the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed the importance of “putting an end to any prospect of deep-sea mining”.

After tough negotiations, 32 countries signed the summit’s conclusions, dubbed the “Paris Call for Glaciers and Poles”. However, Norway, represented by its Prime Minister, did not sign on the dotted line.

In June, the Norwegian Parliament gave its go-ahead for a deep-sea mining mission to explore about 280,000 square kilometres of seabed around Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. The government’s move drew criticism.

Criticism was particularly strong last week while the summit was ongoing.

Besides a call in a letter signed by around a hundred members of the European Parliament on 9 November urging the Norwegian Parliament to halt the project and accept a temporary stop to seabed mining, NGOs presented their own letter to the Norwegian Prime Minister at the meeting in Paris, reiterating the call, Euractiv France reports.

Norway is in the process of redefining its strategy. There’s a big debate in the country right now, and the authorities will not launch any new Arctic-wide deep-sea mining operations until they have evidence that the impact on the environment is low, the French president's office said after the summit.

Norway, which is involved in several initiatives to protect the polar regions, is “double-talking”, says Geneviève Pons, Director General of the think tank Europe – Jacques Delors. She fears this may be encouraged by the European Union (EU).

The EU’s reliance on Norwegian energy, particularly oil and gas, has grown sharply. Norway may use this to justify the construction of new oil and gas infrastructure, especially in the Arctic.

Source: Euractiv