Canadian environmental not-for-profit Parvati.org celebrates Shell’s September 28 announcement that it has chosen to end its Arctic oil exploration in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska. “This was the right decision to make,” says parvati.org founder, Canadian musician, yogini and activist Parvati.
The all-volunteer staff of Parvati.org is unanimous that the vulnerable Arctic ecosystem needs to be protected, not exploited.
Parvati.org, incorporated in 2014 in response to the threat of seismic testing in Baffin Bay in Canada’s Arctic Ocean, celebrates the reprieve for marine life as oil drilling rigs are removed from the Chukchi Sea. However, seismic testing is now taking place off Greenland’s east coast and is slated to go ahead in Canada in 2016. These northern waters are key habitats for whales, who are immeasurably harmed by the incessant sonic blasts of seismic testing. Whales contribute to stopping climate change through the “whale pump effect” that nourishes carbon-eating phytoplankton at the surface with nitrogen from the ocean depths.
Parvati.org’s mission is to have the entire area north of the Arctic Circle recognized as a permanent international marine protected area, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS), that precludes all drilling, fracking, seismic testing, commercial shipping and military activity in this delicate environment. “MAPS will help put the brakes on climate change and allow the planet’s threatened whale populations a chance to come back, while keeping our oceans and coastlines safe,” says Parvati.
“We know that Shell has already invested billions in the Arctic and will be writing off $5.2 bn to withdraw from Alaska. We see this as a reflection of the reality that there is no true profit to be made by pursuing unsustainable activities such as Arctic drilling,” says Rishi Deva, Parvati.org’s Director of Marketing and Communications. “The danger is that Shell will likely look for ways to make up this loss in other areas in the vulnerable Arctic.”
“If Shell is truly committed to being a global citizen and being part of the solution to the climate crisis instead of part of the problem,” says Darcy Belanger, Parvati.org’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, “their next step will be to entirely cease and renounce ALL oil and gas interests anywhere north of the Arctic Circle. Crucially, this includes withdrawing any pre-funding they may be allocating for seismic testing in the Arctic in any jurisdiction, including Canada. Arctic oil is just not worth it.
We call on Shell to build on the sense of relief the people and environment are feeling at their decision to withdraw from the Chukchi Sea, and take the chance to earn true good will by leaving all Arctic waters for good and pivoting immediately to renewable energy.”
Parvati says, “Shell has the opportunity to take courageous steps of a true leader and compel companies and governments around the world to respond in kind. We call on Shell, its competitors and other businesses interested in the Arctic, to endorse the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary with the clear-eyed understanding that ‘business as usual’ is simply no longer an option and Arctic protection is a non-negotiable requirement to bring our planet back from the brink.
MAPS: The Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary must be declared today and in perpetuity to protect our planet for generations to come.”