By Lewis Smith | June 25 2012
A host of celebrities including Lucy Lawless, Penelope Cruz, Sir Paul McCartney and Robert Redford, have demanded the Arctic be protected from overfishing and the spread of the oil and gas industry.
They have called for “a line in the ice” to be drawn to prevent the Arctic region being industrialised and despoiled and to ban the fishing and oil and gas industries from operating in the area.
More than 100 singers, actors and other celebrities have put their names so far to an “Arctic scroll” being organised by Greenpeace which has launched a campaign to sign up a million people to the demand.
Once the target million has been achieved the campaign group intends to plant the scroll on the seabed, four kilometres beneath the North Pole with a ‘Flag for the Future’.
Lucy Lawless said: "Our governments are under the thumb of Big Oil. .. well, I don't accept that. On behalf of my children, I reject their inaction. And so should you."
Sir Paul McCartney said: “The Arctic is one of the most beautiful and last untouched regions on our planet, but now it’s under threat. Some countries and companies want to open it up to oil drilling and industrial fishing and do to the Arctic what they’ve done to the rest of our fragile planet.
“It seems madness that we are willing to go to the ends of the Earth to find the last drops of oil when our best scientific minds are telling us we need to get off fossil fuels to give our children a future. At some time, in some place, we need to take a stand. I believe that time is now and that place is the Arctic.”
Other well-known people to have signed it include Bianca Jagger, Edward Norton, Woody Harrelson, Jude Law, John Hurt, Sir Richard Branson, Bella Freud, Rita Ora, Vivienne Westwood Thom Yorke, Tim Roth, Thandie Newton, Bruce Parry, Lawrence Dallaglio and Cilla Black. Kumi Naidoo, ececutive director for Greenpeace International, said: “We’re drawing a line in the ice and saying to polluters ‘you come no further’.
“The Arctic is coming under assault and needs people from around the world to stand up and demand action to protect it.
“A ban on offshore oil drilling and unsustainable fishing would be a huge victory against the forces ranged against this precious region and the four million people who live there. And a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the pole would in a stroke stop the polluters colonising the top of the world without infringing on the rights of Indigenous communities.”
The campaign was formally launched at the Rio Earth Summit where Russia, the US and Canada were blamed for blocking at attempt at the conference to create a marine sanctuary around the North Pole.
Greenpeace believes the “huge expanse around the pole belongs to all of us because it is defined in international law as the high seas”.
But it is expected that as the Arctic ice breaks up and temperatures rise the region will be opened up to oil and gas exploration, fishing vessels and other interests. Russia, Canada, the US, Norway and Denmark have territorial claims to the seabed as they try to grab as big a stake on the region’s resources as they can. In 2007 Russian explorers planted a flag on the ocean bed to emphasise the nation’s claim to the Arctic.
Shell is among the oil companies leading the charge to get access to the Atrctic’s resources as the ice retreats. It is to start exploratory drilling at two offshore sites in the Alaskan Arctic this summer, while the Russian energy giant Gazprom is active in other parts of the Arctic.
Greenpeace’s campaign, which won more than 100,000 supporters in the firs four days, starts by calling for a UN resolution supporting the creation of sanctuary around the pole and a ban on oil drilling and unsustainable fishing in the wider Arctic.
Rodion Sulyandziga from the Udega People and First Vice President of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (Raipon) said: "At present, the Arctic - one of the last unique and intact places on Earth - is facing a real threat from active oil drilling.
“A large scale oil exploration 'development' can irreversibly destroy the virgin purity of the Arctic region, putting at stake the physical existence and survival of Indigenous Peoples who, without their traditional living patterns, without their eternal habitat, will have no future."
Three Arctic states, the US, Canada and Russia were responsible for wrecking at attempt at Rio to protect part of the Arctic.
To read more about the campaign go to savethearctic.org.