European Parliament calls for rapid action to protect the region (photo)
As the geopolitical importance of the Arctic region is growing, with climate change effects and competition for natural resources bringing new environmental and security risks for the region and for the world, the EU should speak with one voice and push to keep the Arctic an area of cooperation, says a resolution adopted by the Foreign Affairs and Environment committees on Tuesday, the European Parliament website said.
Environment Committee co-rapporteur Sirpa Pietikainen (EPP, FI) said: "The EU needs to have a strong policy for the Arctic co-operation, not least because we are closely linked to the rapidly changing Arctic climate: on one the hand, we are affected by the changes in weather and living conditions caused by melting ice, on the other hand we are among the greatest emitters of pollutants to the Arctic atmosphere”.
In a resolution, adopted by 111 votes to 8, with 1 abstention, MEPs stress that the Arctic sea ice has diminished significantly since 1981, threatening to release huge amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, while melting glaciers contribute to globally rising sea levels. The volume of sea ice present during the summer has fallen by more than 40% in 35 years, which is also causing unknown and unpredicted changes to the world ecosystem, they say.
MEPs also want the Commission and member states to work towards banning the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in maritime transport, through the MARPOL convention. In case this does not prove feasible, the EU should take measures to prohibit the use and carriage of HFO for vessels calling at EU ports, MEPs ask.