Save the Arctic

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Save the Arctic is a Greenpeace campaign to protect the Arctic, principally by preventing oil drilling and unsustainable industrial fishing in the area completely, surrounded by an Arctic-Environmental economics-Zone.[1] The campaign, begun in 2012, calls for a sanctuary in the uninhabited high seas area around the North Pole, similar to the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.[2] The campaign aims to begin this process by prompting a United Nations resolution on protection for the Arctic.[3][4]


The Arctic may contain around 20% of the world's remaining undiscovered oil and gas resources.[5] As most easily extractable fossil fuel reserves have been exploited, and the Arctic ice pack shrinks, governments and oil companies have begun to look for new resources in the Arctic.[6] Given these possible threats, in 2008 the European Parliament proposed opening negotiations on a treaty to protect the Arctic.[5]


Greenpeace began the campaign aiming to take a million signatures supporting the campaign to place on the sea bed at the North Pole in April 2013.[7] At the beginning of 2013, the petition registered over 2.5 million signatures. The petition will be accompanied on the sea bed by a flag designed by young people, in partnership with the Girl Guides and Vivienne Westwood.[8] Paul McCartney, Robert Redford, and Richard Branson are amongst those who support this campaign.[9]

The World Wide Fund for Nature is running a related campaign to protect Arctic polar bear habitat, in partnership with Coca-Cola.[10]


A symbolic wet frozen polar bear with live belt, in front of Shell Centre, London, during the campaign in September 2015.

Oil companies exploring the Arctic, include Rosneft,[11] Royal Dutch Shell, Gazprom,[12] and ExxonMobil.[11]

Royal Dutch Shell[edit]

Greenpeace and Avaaz have focused their campaigning at the beginning of 2013 on Royal Dutch Shell,[13] including with the use of a parody website.[14]

In 2010, in the immediate aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Greenpeace activists painted "No Arctic Drilling" with spilled BP oil on the side of a ship that Shell planned to use for oil exploration in the Arctic. At the protest, Phil Radford of Greenpeace called for "President Obama [to] ban all offshore oil drilling and call for an end to the use of oil in our cars by 2030."[15]

In July 2014, Greenpeace launched a global boycott campaign to persuade Lego to cease producing toys carrying Shell's logo in response to the oil company's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic.[16] Lego's partnership with Shell dates back to the 1960s, although a fictional oil company called Octan featured as the corporation headed by the villain President Business in The Lego Movie.[17] Lego has used the Octan name since 1992 for its fictitious oil company, branding many filling stations, trucks and race cars.


Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise ship case[edit]

After an incident in the Kara Sea with the Russian authorities in August 2013 during a "Save-the-Arctic-banner-action", the Greenpeace-ship Arctic Sunrise again was stopped in the Pechora Sea: On Wednesday 18 September, two Greenpeace activists were arrested, protesting against Arctic oil drilling on the Gazprom platform Prirazlomnaya (de) within the exclusive economic zone.[11] Greenpeace International told on their campaign-website, the activists "were held overnight without charges or legal representation aboard a Russian Coast Guard vessel." On September 19, the Russian Coast Guard "illegally boarded the Greenpeace-ship, while in international waters. 11 warning shots have been fired at Arctic-Sunrise, the activists threatened with knives and guns. 30 activists were arrested, 27 "are being held by the Russian Coast Guard against their will".

Phil Radford, executive director of Greenpeace USA, stated that the reaction of the Russian Coast Guard "was the stiffest response that Greenpeace has encountered from a government since the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985."[18]

To free their activists and end Arctic drilling, the campaigners claimed to sign a petition to the Russian Ambassadors all over the world, and to send a protest-note to Authorities.[19]

In continuity of the successful campaign to reach the Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, in 2012 and 2013 protests with "Save the Arctic" banners were started. To stop oil- and gas-drilling, industrial fishing and military operations in the Arctic region completely, a "global sanctuary in the high arctic" was demanded from the World leaders at the UN General Assembly: "We want them to pass a UN resolution expressing international concern for the Arctic." A resolution to protect the very vulnerable wildlife and ecosystem.[20] 30 Arctic Sunrise activists were arrested in the Pechora Sea, 19 September 2013, witnessing oil-drilling and protesting at the Gazprom platform Prirazlomnaya by the Russian Coast Guard.[11] Greenpeace members were originally charged with Piracy, then later downgraded to hooliganism, before being dropped altogether following the passage of an amnesty law by the Russian government.[21] Today the Gazprom platform Prirazlomnaya is the only platform in the world which continues drilling, oil extraction, and storage operations. Though the project has been heavily criticized by environmental groups there have never happened serious emergencies. The platform is compliant with the most stringent safety requirements. There are walls of caisson between the well and the sea. Spill of oil and petroleum products from the well into the sea is excluded.


The campaign has been criticised for not accounting for the legal differences in ownership between Antarctica and the Arctic.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Campaign website". 2012. Greenpeace. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  2. ^ "1991 - International Treaty saves the Antarctic from deadly threat". Greenpeace. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  3. ^ "And the first step is a UN resolution?". Greenpeace. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  4. ^ González Cueto, Irene (2016-07-14). "Bajando las temperaturas: performance en el Ártico (Greenpeace) - Cultural Resuena". Cultural Resuena (in Spanish). Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  5. ^ a b "European Parliament resolution of 9 October 2008 on Arctic governance". European Parliament. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  6. ^ "Exxon Struggles To Find New Oil". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  7. ^ Black, Richard (2012-06-21). "BBC News - Rio+20: Sir Paul backs Greenpeace Arctic campaign". BBC. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
  8. ^ "Flag for the Future". World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  9. ^ "Celebrities back Greenpeace campaign". Times of India. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  10. ^ "What WWF is doing". Polar Bear. WWF. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  11. ^ a b c d "Protest gegen Ölplattform: Russische Grenzschützer entern Greenpeace-Schiff". Spiegel-Online, Christoph Seidler (German). Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  12. ^ Kramer, Andrew E. (24 August 2012). "Greenpeace Activists Climb Russian Oil Rig". August 24th 2012. New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  13. ^ Tuffrey, Laurie (16 July 2012). "Greenpeace activists shut down 74 UK Shell petrol stations". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  14. ^ "Let's Go!". Satirical website. Greenpeace. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  15. ^ Radford, Phil (24 May 2010). "[BP]resident Obama: Where Does BP Begin and Obama End?". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  16. ^ Tilley, Jonathan (July 2014) "Greenpeace puts pressure on Lego's Shell-branded toys", PR Week, 1 July 2014. Accessed 3 July 2014
  17. ^ Vaughan, Adam (July 2014). "Greenpeace urges Lego to end Shell partnership", The Guardian, 1 July 2014. Accessed 3 July 2014
  18. ^ Kathy Lally and Will Englund. "U.S. Greenpeace captain jailed in Russia". The Washington Post. Retrieved 10/02/13. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  19. ^ "Save The Arctic – Free Our Activists". Greenpeace International. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
  20. ^ "FAQ – The melting Arctic is under threat from oil drilling, industrial fishing and conflict". Greenpeace – Save the Arctic. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
  21. ^ AP (27 December 2013). "Defiant Greenpeace Activists Return From Russia". Advisories. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  22. ^ "Greenpeace's campaign has flaws". Alaska Dispatch. Retrieved 20 February 2013.

External links[edit]