Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Venerable Lloyd's of London - Think Twice Before Exploiting Arctic Resources
Lloyd's of London foresees $100-billion of new exploration in the Arctic in the coming decade. That has prompted Lloyd's to speak out about the prospect for catastrophic environmental damage from the rush for Arctic oil.
Richard Ward, Lloyd's chief executive, urged companies not to "rush in [but instead to] step back and think carefully about the consequences of that action" before research was carried out and the right safety measures put in place.
...the new report from Lloyd's, written by Charles Emmerson and Glada Lahn of Chatham House, says it is "highly likely" that future economic activity in the Arctic will further disturb ecosystems already stressed by the consequences of climate change.
"Migration patterns of caribou and whales in offshore areas may be affected. Other than the direct release of pollutants into the Arctic environment, there are multiple ways in which ecosystems could be disturbed, such as the construction of pipelines and roads, noise pollution from offshore drilling, seismic survey activity or additional maritime traffic as well as through the break-up of sea ice."
The authors point out that the Arctic is not one but several ecosystems, and is "highly sensitive to damage" that would have a long-term impact. They are calling for "baseline knowledge about the natural environment and consistent environmental monitoring". Pollution sources include mines, oil and gas installations, industrial sites and, in the Russian Arctic, nuclear waste from civilian and military installations, and from nuclear weapons testing on Novaya Zemlya. The report singles out a potential oil spill as the "greatest risk in terms of environmental damage, potential cost and insurance" – but says there are significant knowledge gaps in this area.
And wouldn't it be grand if the Petrolheads of Parliament Hill also waded in to demand caution and strict regulation of exploration efforts. But, then again, Canada is now a full-fledged petro-state to use Harper's words, "in the very worst sense of the word."