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The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.
Environmental campaigners say that a draft plan to respond to an oil spill in the Arctic ocean is inadequate and vague. The proposal has been in preparation for two years as oil companies look to increase exploration in the region.
Greenpeace says it fails to get to grip with the risks of an accident in an extremely sensitive location. Ministers from the eight nation Arctic Council are due to discuss the plan at a meeting in Sweden tomorrow.
As summer ice in the Arctic has declined in recent years, the area has become the subject of intense interest from oil and gas companies. Estimates from the US Geological Survey indicated that there could be 60 billion barrels of oil in the region.
In 2011 The Arctic Council members signed the Nuuk Declaration that committed them to develop an international agreement on how to respond to oil pollution in the northern seas.
Now Greenpeace have released a draft of the plan that they say is simply inadequate.
"The big glaring hole is that it is such a vaguely worded document that it doesn't seem to force countries into doing anything," Ben Ayliffe from Greenpeace told BBC News.
"For all intents and purposes it is a useless document," he said.
The plan says that "each party shall maintain a national system for responding promptly and effectively to oil pollution incidents" without requiring any clear details on the number of ships or personnel that would be needed to cope with a spillage.