Oslo 18 June 2020 – Greenpeace calls out the majority in the Norwegian Parliament for defining the vulnerable ice edge zone in opposition to the environmental expert’s advice.
Norway’s ongoing process to define the Arctic ice edge zone has come to an end. It has been described as the major oil battle in Norway this year as the polar ice edge also sets the limit for how far north the oil industry may venture. Today, a majority in the Parliament passes a definition of the marginal ice edge zone defying the environmental expert’s advice, pleasing the oil industry. The definition also includes a clause, saying the Parliament should update the definition of the ice edge zone in four years. Greenpeace is now hoping that the majority will come to its senses by then, putting the need to preserve vulnerable ecosystems over the oil industry.
With the agreed definition, areas with 15% ice concentration or more will now be defined as the ice edge zone. The majority in the Parliament has called the new definition a compromise, defining the ice edge between the different scientific advice, which ranges from a 0,5% to a 30% ice frequency. However, only the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate supported a 30% ice frequency. Based on increased knowledge about the vulnerable, but highly productive ecosystems in the ice edge zone, the Institute of Marine Research and the Norwegian Polar Institute have both recommended defining the ice edge zone in areas with a 0,5% chance of ice. Such a definition would have moved the ice edge zone further south, and eight oil licenses would have been within the ice edge zone. Out of these eight oil licenses, three are part of the ongoing climate court case launched by Greenpeace that has now been accepted to the Supreme Court in November.
Reactions from Frode Pleym, head of Greenpeace Norway:
“Sadly, but not surprisingly, the Norwegian government, backed by the biggest opposition parties puts the interests of the oil industry before scientific advice. Environmental experts have warned against oil drillings in these areas, and it’s a shame that the Parliament refuses to listen.”
“The government and the Parliament have lost all credibility by choosing to side with the oil industry in this important matter. Norway is increasingly looking like a petro-state, giving in to the dirty oil industry and putting a just, green transition at risk.”
“The continued downfall of the oil industry is a threat to the Norwegian economy and job security. With today’s record low oil prices and the time horizon between oil exploration and extraction, especially in the far north, oil drilling here will never give the state a single penny.”