In Svalbard politicians and scientists talk of global warming and a low carbon economy. Outside, the drilling rigs are moving in
The small group of international scientists, politicians and business leaders are using the Arctic research station as a makeshift conference centre for urgent talks on how to fast-forward a low carbon economy. They have come to the snowy archipelago of Svalbard, a few hundred miles from the North Pole, to hear the latest bad news on melting glaciers and climate change.
“Nowhere are the implications of global warming more visible than in the Arctic. Ecosystems as well as livelihoods are presently undergoing rapid change. In spite of all the evidence provided by science, most governments in the world have failed to take the necessary action,” warns Anders Wijkman, the Swedish MEP who is chairman of this special symposium.
After hearing predictions that 30% of species could be extinct and a fifth of Bangladesh underwater before 2100, he urges the removal of “all subsidies on fossil fuels” and a much stronger commitment to renewable power in measures to build a sustainable future.
Yet outside the room, in the grey Arctic waters, an oil rush looms which threatens more carbon emissions and the risk to the natural world of an accident similar to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The drilling also threatens to spark territorial disputes and sabre rattling, such as the bellicose noises made by Argentina over British companies seeking oil off the Falkland Islands.