Home » UN Body Considers Expelling Greenpeace Over Deep-Sea Mining Disruption

UN Body Considers Expelling Greenpeace Over Deep-Sea Mining Disruption

Environmental Group's Actions Threaten Research on Mineral-Rich Seafloor

by Victor Adetimilehin

The future of Greenpeace’s involvement with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) hangs in the balance this week. Representatives from 167 countries are set to discuss the potential expulsion of the environmental group following a series of disruptive actions in late 2023.

Greenpeace activists boarded a research vessel operated by The Metals Company (TMC), a company exploring the potential of deep-sea mining in the remote Pacific Ocean. The activists occupied the vessel for a week, halting environmental assessments commissioned by the ISA. A Dutch court later deemed Greenpeace’s actions unsafe and unlawful.

TMC, whose subsidiary Nauru Ocean Resources (NORI) contracted the research vessel, argues that the disrupted expedition aimed to gather critical scientific data on the environmental impact of deep-sea nodule collection. The company maintains that Greenpeace deliberately hampered essential research efforts required by the ISA for impact assessment purposes.

Greenpeace, however, defends its actions by pointing to TMC’s stated plans to proceed with mining before regulations are finalized. The organization expresses concern that deep-sea mining could have devastating consequences for the marine environment.

Trillion-Dollar Dreams and Environmental Nightmares

The controversy surrounding deep-sea mining stems from the vast potential wealth concentrated on the ocean floor. Potato-sized nodules rich in minerals like cobalt, nickel, copper, and manganese blanket expansive areas. Estimates suggest these reserves could be worth trillions of dollars, sparking significant interest from companies like TMC.

However, the potential windfall comes with a hefty environmental price tag. A recent report by Planet Tracker, a non-profit organization, warns that deep-sea mining could inflict significant damage on marine ecosystems. The report estimates that the negative environmental impact could outweigh the value of the extracted minerals by a factor of 25 compared to land-based mining. Furthermore, the disruption caused by deep-sea mining activities could result in a staggering $500 billion loss to the mining industry itself.

Balancing Economic Growth with Environmental Protection

The upcoming ISA discussions will be a critical juncture for navigating the complex issue of deep-sea mining. Balancing the economic potential of these mineral resources with the need to protect fragile marine ecosystems will be paramount.

Greenpeace’s potential expulsion reflects the heightened tensions surrounding this issue. If Greenpeace is removed, it would raise concerns about stifling dissent and independent oversight within the ISA.

On the other hand, Greenpeace’s disruptive tactics raise questions about the most effective ways to achieve environmental protection. Open dialogue, collaboration with the scientific community, and the development of robust regulations are likely to be more productive approaches in the long run.

The ISA discussions this week hold the potential to chart a course for deep-sea mining that prioritizes both responsible economic development and the preservation of our oceans. Striking this balance will be crucial in ensuring a sustainable future for our planet.

Source: Mining.com

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