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Greenpeace action for an Arctic Sanctuary in front of the melting mouth of Austria's Goldbergkees glacier. The banner reads "our future is melting with the ice".
Greenpeace action for an Arctic Sanctuary in front of the melting mouth of Austria's Goldbergkees glacier. The banner reads "our future is melting with the ice".
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Global support for a sanctuary to protect the Arctic

The Ecologist

4th September 2014

International polling today revealed strong public support for a formally protected area in the High Arctic for mammals and other marine life. The weakest support came from Japan, where opinion was evenly split over the industrialization of the Arctic.

The strongest support for protection came from Argentina, Italy, India and South Africa, but also Arctic states like the USA and Canada went above the global average with approximately 80% in favour.

A study, commissioned by Greenpeace, found three in four (74%) people worldwide support the creation of a protected sanctuary in the international waters surrounding the North Pole.

In the UK, this rises to nearly four in five (78%). The single country giving the strongest backing was Argentina, with 80%.

Currently only 1.5% of the Arctic Ocean is protected - less than any of the world's oceans.

In the past two months, more than 900 influential people have signed Greenpeace's Arctic Declaration, calling for a sanctuary around the High Arctic, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Emma Thompson, Sir Richard Branson, Sir Paul McCartney and many UK political figures.

In the coming weeks, delegations lead by Greenpeace will present these demands along with the list of signatories to the embassies of Arctic States all over the world.

Governments are letting us down!

Greenpeace International Executive Director, Kumi Naidoo, said: "Unfortunately our governments are massively failing in their responsibility to protect our environment and our climate for our children's future.

"But today, our leaders have received a strong signal that the public appetite for action on the Arctic is overwhelming and must no longer be ignored. Our leaders now have both the mandate and the opportunity to act for the health of the climate and the Arctic. The world is watching and demanding action." 

To coincide with the release of this new study, climbers and mountaineers are climbing iconic mountain peaks and buildings all over the world throughout the day, to demand that governments respond to the global outcry to make the creation of a protected Arctic Sanctuary a top priority.

Highs and lows

All 30 countries polled show that the vast majority of people either support or strongly support the creation of an Arctic Sanctuary.

The strongest support for protection came from Argentina, Italy, India and South Africa, but also Arctic states like the USA and Canada went above the global average with approximately 80% in favour.

The lowest support for Arctic conservation came from Japan and Russia, where 51% and 45% of people throught the Arctic should be opened up to oil companies and other heavy industries - yet both countries still supported an Arctic Sanctuary by a decisive margin.

But despite supporting an Arctic Sanctuary by a good margin, Japanese opinion was almost equally split on whether "Oil drilling, oil transport, and industrial-scale fishing should be banned in the international waters of the Arctic Ocean around the North Pole."

The biggest surprise came in the high level of trust expressed in oil companies' ability to clean up spills. A astonishing 51% worldwide agreed with the proposition that "I trust that the oil companies have the necessary capacity and technology to clean up a major oil spill in the Arctic."

 


 

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