The deliberations of this Council meeting, while our governments meet in Egypt to tackle the climate crisis, have shown clearly that humanity has arrived at a crossroads.
What has brought us here is a broken relationship with nature and a system that puts profit before sustainability, that perpetuates our dependence on finite resources, damages the environment, and causes scarcity, inequity and insecurity in our societies. Among those benefiting from this system are corporations, such as oil and gas companies, that even today continue to accumulate wealth while people and communities are left in crisis. The UN Secretary General was speaking for scientists, youth and citizens across the world when he said in his opening remarks at the UNFCCC COP27 that we are on “a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator”.
In this Council meeting, “good faith” is equated to forging ahead on a pathway we know is perilous, by empowering mining corporations to strip mine the last remaining pristine areas of our planet for profit. By letting deep-sea mining happen, possibly as soon as next year, our generation is literally scraping the bottom of the barrel, knowing well that the consequences will be felt by those to come.
But as we stand together at this crossroads, we know there is another path. It has been shown to us by millions of people worldwide who care deeply about the ocean, and a growing number of States namely Palau, Fiji, Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Costa Rica, Chile, Spain, Ecuador, New Zealand, Germany, Panama and France who want to hit the brakes on deep-sea mining.
Rather than being remembered as the generation that delivered the final blow to our planet by unleashing a new industry which could have wide-ranging and even catastrophic impacts, wiping out fragile habitats and species and disturbing the ocean carbon cycle1, we ask governments to put sustainability and intergenerational equity first.
To those States not yet onboard we say this: Take the foot off the accelerator and hit the brakes. We urge you to listen to the calls for precaution and protection and come at the next Council meeting ready to walk alongside those who are resisting deep-sea mining, for the benefit of humankind and in ‘good faith’ towards future generations. A deep-sea mining moratorium is the way forward.
1 Undisturbed: The deep ocean’s vital role in safeguarding us from crisis, is a new report by scientists from the Benioff Ocean Initiative, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the International Programme on the State of the Ocean, highlighting the important role of the deep ocean in mitigating climate change and warning of the serious threats the deep sea faces.