Protecting the Arctic: The Government's response - Environmental Audit Committee Contents


6.  The Government should build into its Arctic Policy Framework a regular review and updating of its projections of ice cap melting, taking account of evolving scientific understanding of climate change in the Arctic. (Paragraph 12)

7.  We recommend that the Government review its position on Arctic oil and gas extraction, setting out a more convincing and coherent position in its Policy Framework document, consistent with the latest climate change and energy projections, including the International Energy Agency's latest World Energy Outlook. (Paragraph 17)

8.  In the light of the environmental safety issues being examined by the US authorities, the Government should reconsider whether a moratorium on new Arctic oil and gas exploration is the most effective way of protecting the Arctic. (Paragraph 25)

9.  The Government should work with the new Arctic Council permanent observers to help support the sustainable development of the region. The Government should also explore the opportunities for greater participation of parliamentarians and others in the Government's delegation to the Arctic Council. We urge UK-based individuals, companies, NGOs and the Government to engage and contribute to the new Arctic Circle's work. (Paragraph 31)

10.  The Government should use its first Arctic policy framework to set out how it will take a more active role in helping to shape the future of the Arctic. We recommend that the Government use the first version of its Arctic Policy Framework document as a draft for public consultation. As well as the issues we raise in this report, the Framework should explicitly address the areas discussed in our earlier report, including:

  • A narrative on how the Rio principles and the outcomes from the Rio+20 Summit will guide the UK's approach to the Arctic;
  • how the Government intends to use its science and research to increase its influence on Arctic matters;
  • how the Government plans to secure the pre-conditions for environmentally safe drilling in the Arctic;
  • how the Government intends to secure a much higher, preferably unlimited, financial liability regime for oil and gas operations throughout the Arctic;
  • the need for an area of the Arctic to be set aside as a 'sanctuary' and protected from oil and gas development, to be progressed in dialogue with both the Arctic Council and the UN;
  • how the Government will use its influence in international forums to help protect the Arctic from the possible impacts of increased international shipping, and how it will support relevant sectors of the UK economy to take advantage of future opportunities in a sustainable way; and
  • the Government's commitment to support the sustainable management of Arctic fisheries.

It should identify the policies and roles resting with each Government department and how those departments will co-ordinate in taking those forward. And the Framework document should set out how the Government will engage with the IMO, UN, Arctic Council, the EU and the Arctic Circle group in seeking the necessary environmental protection of the Arctic. (Paragraph 35)

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Prepared 27 July 2013