International Executive Director of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, is being deported from Greenland after four days in jail for scaling a Cairn Energy rig off the coast of Greenland and demanding that Cairn immediately halt drilling operations and leave the Arctic.
Cairn used water cannons to fire at Naidoo and his fellow activists as they climbed the ladder on one of the rig’s legs. Naidoo made it to the platform nonetheless, presenting rig operators with 50,000 petition signatures from people around the world who demand that Cairn publish their oil spill response plan. Leaked documents say that the UK government believes that freezing Arctic temperatures would make a spill “near impossible” to clean up.
Naidoo was a youth leader in the anti-apartheid movement who was arrested and forced to flee to the UK and live in exile. He calls the campaign to stop Arctic oil drilling “one of the defining environmental battles of our age.”
“While this struggle to prevent the destruction of the Arctic might appear remote, it is fundamental for all of humanity” says Naidoo. “It is global warming that has threatened the livelihoods of millions and the melting of the Arctic ice cap leads to sea level rise around the world. Therefore it is important that we get our leaders to stop recklessly chasing the last drops of oil that exist at the expense of pursuing better alternatives.”
According to Greenpeace, Exxon and Chevron are watching what happens to the Cairn rig with interest. They have already bought up Greenland licenses, and if Cairn strikes oil this summer, the Arctic oil rush will be on:
Even without an accident Cairn admits its drilling operation will result in at least 9,000 tonnes of chemicals being discharged directly into the waters of the Davis Strait – including 180 tonnes of red-listed chemicals (more than all annual oil drilling operations in Norway and Denmark combined). The company admits that it would take decades before significant profits from oil exploration flow to Greenland, while Cairn’s operations pose a grave threat to Greenland’s fisheries, which represent 88% of the island’s export economy.
Naidoo will be flown to Copenhagen, where he will be held in prison for the night before being taken to Amsterdam and released.