Politicians call on British gov't to help halt thaw of Arctic ice

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-29 21:07:42|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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LONDON, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Britain's support for exploitation of oil and gas reserves in the Arctic is incompatible with its international commitments to climate change measures, a report by politicians said Thursday.

Following an eight-month inquiry, MPs on the British Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee concluded that the government should reconsider its encouragement to UK businesses to explore oil and gas opportunities in the Arctic region.

Mary Creagh, who chairs the committee, said: "The Arctic is changing rapidly and warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. This brings potentially catastrophic consequences for the global climate as well as commercial opportunities and risks."

Creagh said the British government should start by acknowledging the incompatibility of its support for oil and gas exploitation with its climate change commitments.

The committee heard that the loss of sea ice in the Arctic is creating new economic and social opportunities, but if this is not managed correctly the consequences could be dire.

Tourism and shipping in the Arctic have increased in recent years as new shipping routes open up.

Arctic tourism can bring benefits if managed correctly, the MPs said, but they warned tourism can contribute to the degradation of the environment, with very large cruise ships overwhelming communities and heightening the risk of plastic pollution and rights to wildlife. The UK should work with the Arctic Council towards a ban on cruise ships carrying more than 500 passengers.

The committee has recommended ministers acknowledge incompatibility with climate agreements and set out plans to press members of the Arctic Council to adopt a similar approach.

Arctic sea ice is at its lowest level since records began, with a risk of a trillion plastic particles currently frozen in Arctic sea ice being released into the ocean, findings of the committee revealed.

With ice melting accelerating since the early 2000s the Arctic Ocean may be ice free in the summer as soon as the 2050s, unless emissions are reduced.

The report added: "Government response to this urgent issue must be bolstered with measures and targets."

The committee said it believes environmental change in the Arctic is a global concern and a global responsibility and is calling on the government to strengthen its emissions targets in line with its obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement and the Climate Change Act.

The government should also increase funding and support to British scientists.