|October 11, 2013|
Arctic melt means more pirate chases, say Polish climate hosts
|Melting ice could open the Arctic to new drilling and the opportunity to "chase pirates, terrorists and ecologists", according to the organisers of this year's UN climate talks in Poland, in comments that have been branded outrageous by campaigners.|
The blogpost, published this week on the Polish site for November's Warsaw meeting, said that not only would melting ice allow ships to cut their journey times by taking the north-west passage, but "we may also build new drilling platforms and retrieve natural resources hidden below the sea bed".
It added that there was also the possibility of, "Chasing the pirates, terrorists and ecologists that will come to hang around ..."
Byrony Worthington, the Labour peer and environmental campaigner, said the text was "outrageous and should be withdrawn". Other European observers called the post crazy, and said it brought shame on the meeting, which is considered a key step towards reaching an international climate change deal in Paris at the end of 2015.
But the Polish environment minister, Marcin Korolec, defended the entry, saying it "only pointed out problem we face". He said that while a rush to exploit the mineral resources of the Artic was "not nice", it would be "real if we did nothing".
Robert Cyglicki, programme director at Greenpeace Poland, told the Guardian: "These blogs illustrate the Polish government is not the most credible host to the upcoming climate negotiations -- keeping fossil fuels in the ground is clearly not on their agenda." WWF Poland also joined the call for the post to be removed.
Greenpeace activists who scaled a Russian oil rig in the Arctic in September in protest at exploitation of fossil fuels in the region were arrested by Russian authorities, and are currently being held in jail awaiting a court case over piracy charges that could lead to a 10- to 15-year prison sentence.
Ed Davey, the energy and climate secretary, was in Poland last week for a pre-meeting with Korolec and other environment ministers ahead of the conference in November, known as the Conference of the Parties, or COP19.
The Polish organisers have previously come in for criticism from environmentalists for the companies that COP19 is partnering with, which include PGE Polish Energy Group, the state operator which runs several coal power plants in the country including Belchatow, Europe's single biggest emitter of carbon pollution. Poland's electricity is supplied almost exclusively by coal power.