According to a study by the Environmental Justice Foundation published on the day of the vote, deep-sea mining is not needed for the clean energy transition.
Norway has become the first country in the world to greenlight the controversial practice of deep-sea mining. A bill passed in the Norwegian Parliament on Tuesday (9 January) will accelerate the undersea hunt for minerals needed to build green technology such as batteries for electric vehicles. It authorises opening up parts of the country’s sea to mining exploration.
Around 280,000 square metres of the country’s national waters could gradually be opened up – an area nearly the size of Italy located in the Arctic between Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland.
The Norwegian government has said it is being cautious and is unlikely to approve licences to extract minerals from the sea bed any time soon. “We’re now going to see if this can be done in a sustainable manner,” energy minister Terje Aasland told parliament.
But this hasn’t stopped widespread warnings from scientists and environmental experts that the plans could devastate marine life and impact carbon stored in the ocean. They say far more research is needed to understand the real impact before any deep-sea mining takes place.