Climate change is bringing non-Arctic states closer to the Arctic. For France, thawing ice and increased human activities in the circumpolar north have initiated an 'unofficial' but discernable reevaluation of how Paris looks at and relates to the Arctic. Although French officials have yet to pen into policy an official French strategy or agenda for the Arctic, this article looks at how thawing ice has led various governmental and non-governmental officials in Paris to rethink how French foreign policy should be addressing Arctic change today. It explores how images of a changing Arctic have led policymakers to question the governance structures of the Arctic. It also offers an initial overview of French interests related to the Arctic and identifies key issues that are currently shaping the Arctic foreign policy discourse in Paris. The purpose of this assessment is to first, explore how France is engaging in and with the Arctic in an era of climate change, and also, to expand the discussion on the role and interests of non-Arctic states in the region.
Joël Plouffe, PhD Candidate, National School of Public Administration (ENAP), Montréal, Research Fellow at the Center for Interuniversity Research on the International Relations of Canada and Québec (CIRRICQ), CDFAI Fellow, Canada