EU Parliament resolution criticises Norway’s deep sea mining plans

The European Parliament has passed a resolution expressing concerns over Norway’s plans for deep-sea mining in Arctic waters, which the country voted to allow in January 2024.

Although the resolution lacks any legal authority and thus, cannot prevent Norway, it clarifies that the EU opposes the Norwegian government’s intentions.  

The resolution highlights various issues regarding deep-sea mining such as potential disruption to fisheries, methane release, biodiversity loss and inadequate environmental assessments. It also mentions calls from EU states, international entities and Norway’s own Environment Agency for caution or bans on deep-sea mining.  

The resolution received strong support, with 523 members voting in favour, 34 against and 59 abstentions. Catherine Chabaud, a member of the European Parliament, emphasized the significance of the resolution, stating that it sends a strong message about the bloc’s stance on the practice and sets a precedent for other nations. “If Norway goes in this direction and opens the door to [mining] exploitation, probably it will be easier for China and others to go on this way,” Chabaud said. “I think it was very important to react.” 

Article H of the resolution elaborates that “the deep sea is the oldest biome on the planet and is the area of the planet least known to humankind; whereas the deep sea is believed to have the highest biodiversity on Earth, provides critical environmental services, including long-term carbon sequestration, and is vulnerable to human disturbances”, adding that “serious concerns have been raised about the impacts of deep-sea mining on the loss of biodiversity and on the functioning of the ecosystem, the effects of which will be locked in for many generations to come.”  

Environmental campaigners have praised the European Parliament for taking a strong political stance on the issue. Martin Webeler, a campaigner for the Environmental Justice Foundation, said: “Norway is not dependent on Europe’s support, but they are close partners…This is a very unusual move that the European Parliament is criticising a close partner like that, so it has strong political implications.” 

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