NEW ZEALANDER ARRESTED IN ICY ACTION
April 11, 2000. Auckland—New Zealander, Tanya Popp of Coromandel, has been arrested while attempting to protect the sensitive and fragile Arctic environment from climate change.
Four Greenpeace activists were arrested early this morning New Zealand time for trying to prevent the laying of an oil pipeline under the Arctic Ocean’s Beaufort Sea (1). The pipeline is part of BP Amoco’s controversial Northstar fossil fuel project.
“BP Amoco knows that the Northstar project will fuel climate change. At the same time it claims to be concerned about the environment, but the facts tell a different story,” said Melanie Duchin Climate Campaigner at the Greenpeace Camp Sirius, on the frozen Arctic Ocean. “It insists on pushing ahead with this project that has a 100 percent chance of increasing climate change and a 24 percent chance of despoiling the Arctic through oil spills”.(2)
One activist, Ulvar Arnkvaern of Norway, scaled the backhoe laying the pipe and displayed a banner reading “Stop BP’s Northstar”. The pipelaying operation is currently stopped. Police have now arrested all four Greenpeace activists.
Recent studies by NASA have confirmed that in polar regions, climate change has already taken a significant toll as the ice pack melts and marine mammals such as polar bears and walrus lose their habitat and hunting grounds. In the last 40 years the average thickness of the polar pack ice has decreased by 40 percent, and in the last three decades an area the size of the state of Texas has melted away.
“Greenpeace is simply asking BP Amoco to live up to its words. It talks about being a green oil company, but if you just scratch the surface of the thin green veneer there is a lot of very dirty, climate-destroying oil below”, said Sue Connor Greenpeace New Zealand campaigner. “Both governments and industry must realise that continuing to invest in fossil fuels is taking us down the wrong energy pathway if we are to prevent dangerous climate change. Investment must be transferred into fossil fuel free, clean renewable energy like wind and solar”. (3)
Sue Connor, Greenpeace New Zealand, (09) 630 6317 or 021 213 5603. Melanie Duchin, Ice Camp Sirius, Arctic Ocean, satellite phone +872 761 316 768. Susan Cavanagh, Greenpeace media including stills and footage, The Netherlands, +31 6 212 969 10 Video available: +31 653505721
(1)The pipeline, if completed, will run six miles offshore and will be buried in potentially unstable permafrost soil under an ocean that is frozen solid or in broken ice conditions for ten months of the year. This project represents the first use of this dangerous unproven technology in the Arctic environment, where severe storms are common and huge blocks of ice regularly gouge through the area in which the pipeline is being built.
(2) US Government estimates have predicted up to a 24 percent chance of a major oil spill (1000 barrels or more) over the 15-year lifetime of the project and acknowledge that oil spills can only be cleaned up 50 per cent of the time, due to darkness, severe storms and broken ice conditions.
(3) On Thursday April 13, BP/Amoco will hold its Annual General Meeting for its shareholders in London. At this meeting the shareholders will have the opportunity to vote on a resolution which calls on the company to switch away from high-risk, environmentally harmful ventures like Northstar, towards solar and other clean renewable sources of energy. Although BP/Amoco has aggressively promoted its solar division as proof it is concerned about global warming, the company actually spends over 100 times more on oil exploration and production.