“By embarking on mining in the deep sea without sufficient knowledge, we risk destroying unique nature, eradicating vulnerable species, and disrupting the world’s largest carbon sink,” said one advocate.
Calling on Norway to “live up to the responsibilities” it has as co-chair of an international panel on sustainable oceans, more than 30 climate and conservation organizations on Monday delivered a letter to nearly two dozen Norwegian embassies on all continents, intensifying global outcry over plans for deep-seabed mining in the Arctic.
The groups, including Greenpeace, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, and the Blue Climate Initiative, called on officials to abandon plans to open 281,000 square kilometers—an area nearly the size of the United Kingdom—to deep-sea mining, saying the world currently lacks “the robust, comprehensive, and credible scientific knowledge to allow for reliable assessment of impacts of deep-sea minerals extraction, including impacts on the planet’s life-support systems and human rights.”
Therefore, they said, the plan violates Norway’s “ambition to act according to a knowledge-based and precautionary approach.”
“By embarking on mining in the deep sea without sufficient knowledge, we risk destroying unique nature, eradicating vulnerable species, and disrupting the world’s largest carbon sink,” said Sofia Tsenikli, global campaign lead for the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition. “At a time when humanity is racing against the clock to tackle both the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis, we should protect nature—not destroy it.”
“European countries like France, Germany and Spain have taken a precautionary position, advocating a precautionary pause, a moratorium or a ban on deep-sea mining.”
Mining companies have lobbied for deep-sea mining, claiming it is necessary to source cobalt and copper, but advocates have noted that the minerals are already found elsewhere on the planet and have warned that the mining process could disturb the habitat of thousands of marine species.
The advocates behind Monday’s letter, which was delivered on the day Norway’s parliament began its autumn session, noted that the country’s co-chair on the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy—Palau—is among a growing number of governments that have urged caution regarding deep-sea mining.
“European countries like France, Germany and Spain have taken a precautionary position, advocating a precautionary pause, a moratorium or a ban on deep-sea mining,” wrote the groups. “Scientists, Indigenous groups, fisheries and seafood organizations, civil society organizations, and major businesses including Storebrand, BMW, and Google are all calling for a stop to deep-sea mining. The European Investment Bank has excluded deep-sea mining from its investments as it is deemed ‘unacceptable in climate and environmental terms,’ and the European Parliament has called for a moratorium multiple times.”
The international coalition further called on Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre to “step back from the brink of introducing this destructive industry and to support a global moratorium on deep sea mining.”
The letter was sent a week after Greenpeace activists confronted Støre and other Norwegian Labour Party politicians with a 45-foot long octopus model that displayed a banner reading, “Don’t destroy my home.”
Greenpeace campaigners in Denmark shared on social media that on Monday, the letter was delivered by an activist dressed as a jellyfish.
“Norway opening for deep-sea mining while chairing the international Ocean panel, and committing to 100% sustainable use of its waters, is hypocrisy and risks destroying both ecosystems in the vulnerable Arctic and Norway’s reputation internationally,” said Louisa Casson, senior campaigner for the group’s Stop Deep-Sea Mining campaign. “If Norway decides to proceed with their plans, they must give up their seat in the Ocean panel to a state that delivers on ocean protection.”