Executive Summary for May 13th

In this weekly roundup, we review and analyze the latest news and key developments in the Arctic, including the decision to forgo $2.5 billion in oil leases and Canada’s decision to embrace the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Published on May 13, 2016 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Oil Firms Walk Away From Arctic Drilling

Major oil and gas companies have let go of many of their Alaska offshore oil leases in the Arctic Ocean, reports the Washington Post.

Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips, Eni and Iona Energy renounced all but one of their leases in the Chukchi Sea and some in the Beaufort Sea, worth $2.5 billion and covering 2.2 million acres of Arctic Ocean, according to the Post.

Last week, lawmakers had called on Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to allow offshore oil and gas development only when the highest safety and environmental standards, including national and global climate goals, could be met.

Meanwhile, academics argued that Norway’s push to develop the Arctic Ocean may be at odds with national and international law, the Maritime Executive reported.

In a report published by the Norwegian Climate Foundation, the authors argue that oil and gas production runs afoul of several U.N. declarations and conventions, including the U.N. Climate Convention (UNFCCC) and the national constitution, which gives the population (and its future generations) the right to a liveable environment.

Canada Reverses Its Stance on Indigenous Rights

Nine years ago, Canada was one of four countries to object to the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). On Tuesday, Canada reversed its stance and said it would implement the declaration, reports the Canadian Press.

The announcement earned Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett a standing ovation.

Canada had helped draft the agreement, but it voted against the declaration in 2007, along with Australia, New Zealand and the United States. At the time, the former Conservative government had concerns that the informed consent provisions included in the declaration amounted to providing Indigenous people with veto powers.

Although Tuesday’s announcement was widely celebrated, some concerns remained. Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a national Inuit organization, said the Liberal government’s approach to Inuit right to self-determination was too similar to the previous government’s, reports Nunatsiaq Online.

Also at the U.N. forum, the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) called for the creation of a global fund for Indigenous people. The fund would help them participate in working towards the 2030 sustainable development goals, the ICC says in a statement.

Nordic Leaders Convene in Washington

Leaders attending a joint U.S.-Nordic summit will agree to apply tough environmental standards and climate goals to commercial activities in the Arctic, reports the Washington Post.

President Obama is hosting the leaders of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway to discuss security, environmental and economic issues. The Arctic was also listed as a priority.

The impact of the agreement remains unclear. Norway continues to expand the area available for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, even though companies no longer find the U.S. attractive for offshore oil and gas production.

The summit will also include agreements on offshore wind energy projects and efforts to reduce deforestation, according to the article.

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