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MEDIA RELEASE: Department of Foreign Affairs hit by Oil Spill

Department of Foreign Affairs hit by Oil Spill

(Ottawa) The debate over offshore drilling in the Arctic spilled onto the grounds of the Foreign Affairs building in Ottawa today with activists simulating an iceberg floating on a sea covered in oil. As senior diplomats from Arctic coastal states prepare to discuss the future of the Arctic at the 7th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting tomorrow in Nuuk, Greenland, members of the Council of Canadians and the Indigenous Environmental Network warned of the dangers of offshore drilling and called on Arctic states to “leave it in the ground.”

“The BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was a crude awakening – it showed us the very real possibility and the devastation of a major offshore spill,” said Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “The Arctic is a far more extreme environment, making it more likely that a spill would occur, and that much harder to respond if it did.”

Melting sea ice and warming temperatures, consequences of unfettered fossil fuel consumption, are changing the face of the Arctic and leading to a new energy rush.  “At this time of increasing climate crisis, the governments of Arctic states have a responsibility to the whole world to place a moratorium on offshore drilling. If the Arctic oil feeding frenzy starts, the inevitable results will be gruesome,” added Harden-Donahue.

While some see Arctic waters as an opportunity for oil exploration, Ben Powless of the Indigenous Environmental Network sees a different kind of opportunity. “All around the world Indigenous Peoples are the first to suffer the effects of climate change, just as they would be the most devastated by an oil spill in the fragile arctic ecosystem. Placing a moratorium on offshore drilling would an important step toward a sustainable future that respects Mother Earth and builds upon the knowledge of Indigenous communities for the good of all people.”

Pictures from today’s set up outside of Foreign Affairs are available here:

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For more information:

Andrea Harden-Donahue (613) 218-5800