House of Lords Releases Its Report on the Arctic

Editor’s Note: The following article, cross-posted from the Pan Arctic Forum, highlights the anti-science nature of the precautionary principle. Because science-based regulation is a prerequiste for effective regulation, it is being presented as part of OIRA Watch’s occassional analysis and reporting on regulation in the UK and around the world.

From: Pan Arctic Forum

The House of Lords has released its report on the Arctic. The report is encyclopedic in its coverage of issues dealing with the Arctic and has a detailed coverage of governance issues.

CRE respectfully disagrees with one of the conclusions in the report:

The European Union’s case for permanent observer status at the Arctic Council is overwhelming.”

A major flaw in the report is that the aforementioned statement is inconsistent with the following statement in the report:

“We feel that any observer coming into the Arctic Council has to be able to show that it can make decisions that are intelligent and based on scientific fact, as well as to be inclusive with respect to the traditional knowledge of the indigenous people who live in the Arctic.”

How can anyone argue that an organization which lives by the precautionary principle—the antithesis of sound science—can possibly “make decisions that are…based on scientific fact”?

A representative of  indigenous populations shared CRE’s concern when they testified before the committee and stated:

If you were to look at all the bans around the world, starting with the 1972 ban by the United States, that ban was ill informed and again based on morals.”

It is unfortunate that the House of Lords Committee on the Arctic did not address the precautionary principle with the same detachment as did a similar UK committee studying specifically the EU regulation of GMO foods in which it just concluded that:

“Continued application of the precautionary principle in relation to all genetically modified crops is therefore no longer appropriate and is acting as barrier to progress in this field.”

It is clear that national governmental officials of virtually any country have a basic instinct to expand their power base by “UNifying” issues under review.

We expect the views of the UK on granting EU observer status will be supported by most of their counterparts in other countries. In the long run these governmental officials will probably seek to convert the Arctic Council into a treaty organization which will give them even more standing but a lessened ability to find and implement real solutions to real problems.

Arctic stakeholders should consider whether we are on the slippery slope to creating an unworkable institution to address the important problems of the Arctic.



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