Birger Poppel

Despite the fact that not a single barrel of Greenlandic oil was ever extracted, refined and consumed in or exported from Greenland, hydrocarbon has nevertheless played a significant role in contemporary economical, environmental, and political. discourses. Not least as a key political issue in Greenland as well as between Greenland and Denmark is the discourse about Greenland’s development from a colony to Self-Governance (2009) via status as a Danish county (1953) and Home Rule (1979). One of the article’s foci is how the discourse about and the gradual acknowledgement of the Greenlanders’ rights to the Greenland subsurface has been an important part of Greenlandic nation building. Furthermore, visions for an independent Greenland have been fuelled by the hopes for ‘a shortcut’ via discoveries of oil and gas that eventually could compensate for the Danish block grant and pave the way for an independent Greenland. In 2012 Greenland Self-Governance took over the full authority of mineral resources including oil and gas. 2012 was also the year following explorative drillings of eight wells that were all dry. The following years were characterised by a rapidly declining interest from the oil industry in developing hydrocarbon activities in Greenland waters and demonstrated Greenland’s dependency on the international market for oil. Greenland being part of a globalised world also became apparent when Greenland was confronted with, for instance, environmental concerns caused by Greenland’s wish to be an oil-producing country. Conflicting interests internationally were also reflected in the results based on a national survey on attitudes to, perceptions of as well as hopes and concerns related to oil development. Some results are presented in the article.

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Irina Chesnokova, Emma Likhacheva & Aleksandra Morozova

In this work the attention is focused on the necessity of mitigating risks and dangers in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation, which are associated with extreme climate conditions, the focal character of economic development, remoteness from major industrial centers, and low stability of ecological systems, which is susceptible even to minor climatic and anthropogenic impacts. In warming conditions, one of the main ecological risks is changing climatic conditions affecting permafrost rocks and the potential growth of negative anthropogenic loads associated with the mineral resources mining and infrastructure development. This article deals with modern conditions and potential risks, related to possible further climatic warming in the Arctic zone and economic development of new regions. The main attention is paid to changing geocryological and geomorphological conditions, which lead to the activation of exogenous processes in the continental part of the Arctic zone. Possible changes in the ecology-geomorphological situations of the Arctic zone regions were analyzed. Three groups of subjects with identical tendencies in climate changes were identified: I) regions in which less than 30% of the area was affected by dangerous processes; II) 30-50% of the area were affected by dangerous processes; III) over 50% of the area was affected by dangerous processes.

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Daryana Maximova

This paper attempts to consider a fundamental problem of ensuring sustainable development of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation in the context of expanding economic activity. In August 2017, the new edition of the Russian state program on the Arctic’s socio-economic development was released. At present, this is the main document regarding the development of the Arctic territories of Russia. The main idea of this document and the future law “On the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation” is to create support zones, which will be complex projects of social and economic development of the Arctic territories where the Northern Sea Route will become the main navigable artery and the central project. According to the state program, one of the main tasks of the support zones is the use of best practices for creating favorable living conditions for the residents. This paper will examine the Russian Arctic’s challenges and opportunities regarding sustainable development, including an analysis of the recent Russian plans in relation to the territorial development.

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Troy J. Bouffard

Throughout the Cold War, the international community often feared the worst concerning environmental behavior in Russia. However, post-Soviet Russia continues to make significant progress in environmental stewardship in one specific region – its Arctic coastline and maritime region. The contrast between on- and offshore priorities remains notably disparate, especially in policies and behaviors. While previous examination remains lacking in this context, it is important to ask – how, and especially why, does Russia maintain a significantly different Arctic offshore emphasis concerning the environment? The argument supported in this article suggests that, while Russia maintains a discernible difference between Arctic land territory versus maritime behaviors, initial intuition behind “why” indicates that Russia might possibly be setting conditions in order to eventually leverage soft powers, and ultimately, jurisdiction of an expanded amount of maritime surface territory in the Arctic. In support of the examination, the use of authoritarian environmentalism provides the framework in which to view the evidence and perspectives. Two case studies provide methodology, including aspects: 1) involving notable environmental problems within Russian Arctic land territory located around Norilsk mining as well as the Usinsk oil pipeline, and 2) focusing on Russian efforts toward offshore environmental remediation, prevention, and protection efforts. The actual differences in policies and behavior seem clear as a result, and perhaps helps establish the start of a discussion concerning the “why” in order to start investigating the potential greater reasoning behind such environmental behaviors, and maybe even what to anticipate.

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Mansur H. Gazeev, Natalia A. Volynskaya & Anatoly B. Rybak

The specific nature of the conditions for the implementation of investment projects in the Arctic zone, in particular, the development of hydrocarbon resources (HCR), requires a national economic approach in assessing economic efficiency. This is due to the high capital intensity, the use and creation of special (innovative) materials, machinery and technologies, the lack of production infrastructure in most of the territories, the increased sensitivity of the natural environment of the Arctic zone to man-caused stresses.

An assessment of economic efficiency based on the indicators of commercial efficiency is insufficient and erroneous. The rationale for investment decisions should be based on comprehensive national economic assessments. In terms of content, such an assessment characterizes the expected magnitude of the full national economic effect of the project and possible environmental damage.

An indicator of the combined economic effect (𝐸𝐶) of the development of the hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic zone is proposed.

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Kong Soon Lim

On 26 January 2018, China released the much-anticipated White Paper that sets out its policies and position on the Arctic. China understands the economic opportunities and the territorial challenges in the region as it seeks a greater role in Arctic development. The White Paper outlines China’s ambitious plan to develop a Polar Silk Road across the Arctic. It also summaries China’s policy goals and the principles guiding its conduct. As a non-Arctic state with no territorial sovereignty in the region, China’s ambition would be dependent on its cooperation and the alignment of its interest with Arctic states. In considering China’s Arctic policy, this paper considers three pertinent questions: (1) what are China’s key interests in the Arctic, (2) what are the aims and basis of China’s Arctic policy as outlined in the White Paper and (3) how does China’s Arctic policy complement with its Polar Silk Road vision as an extension of its Belt and Road Initiative.

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