Sanna Kopra & Matti Nojonen

Based on the premise that climate responsibility had emerged as an international norm in the pre-coronavirus era, this paper studies to what extent the coronavirus is challenging the policies and strategies of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its offspring the Polar Silk Road. We begin with a critical overview of the BRI and illustrate the practical implications of the fact that the BRI lacks an official strategy, a definition and a governing institution. We elaborate what kind of discourses and standards are attached to the BRI in general, and its latest addition, the Polar Silk Road, in particular. On the one hand, we analyze how China’s pre-COVID-19 era Arctic policy and BRI documents (and norms) manifested and set the standards of climate responsibility, and, on the other hand, based on original Chinese policy documents, we debunk how these lofty political goals were rapidly and completely set aside as the new coronavirus epidemic was spreading around. Instead, the Party hastily made stipulations and policies and refocused the BRI to save Chinese overseas investments and the reputation of China in the post-coronavirus era.

Full Article

Olivia Lee

The feasibility of new Arctic oil and gas development activity is strongly tied to global supply and demand. The evolution of oil development in Alaska represents responses to external pressures such as economic viability, and changes in domestic and foreign oil production. Climate change is another external pressure that affects the cost of developing Arctic oil and gas. Direct impacts can occur from improved access routes for ships in ice-free waters, or increased costs from infrastructure damage due to permafrost thaw or coastal inundation. An emerging globallydriven factor that may limit future oil and gas activity in the Arctic is the recent trend in corporate sustainability goals driven by social responsibility to mitigate climate change. In 2020 several major US banks expressed policies that would prohibit financing of Arctic oil and gas exploration or development. The extent that such corporate policies could impact future oil development in Alaska is explored in the context of changing regulatory environments, and the diversity of oil companies invested in Alaska. Indicators on company interests are used to assess threats for future Alaska oil and gas development. The results emphasize that financing challenges would make it difficult for smaller companies to share the investment risk in Arctic oil exploration and development. Comparisons of oil and gas investments in other Arctic states show that the strength of state-backed oil and gas companies, investments from Asia, and access to technology innovations are important factors that may offset the effects of more limited Arctic oil and gas financing by major US and European banks.

Full Article

Andreas Østhagen

As sea ice diminishes in the Arctic, writings about the region have directed focus to accessing and potentially claiming undiscovered offshore oil and gas resources. However, as has been extensively proven, oil and gas resources in the North have not generated conflict or aggression. Instead, another ocean-based resource is emerging as the primary rationale for disputes in the Arctic: marine living resources. Despite a pro-active moratorium on High Arctic fisheries, issues such as quota distributions for mackerel, snow crab, and access to the maritime zone/shelf around Svalbard have proven particularly conflictual in northern waters. Several Arctic states – or their respective Arctic regions – are heavily dependent on fisheries as a source of economic wealth and food security. States are thus willing to go to great lengths to protect their sovereign rights in their economic zones. This article examines three cases of conflict related to fisheries management impacted by global warming in the Barents Sea and the North Atlantic in order to tease out lessons, dynamics and general relevance to the Arctic region.

Full Article

Timothy Choi

This paper reconsiders extant discourses on Arctic security within the wider body of militarization literature and suggests that the enduring peacetime roles of Arctic maritime forces has resulted in a limited, but recognizable, militarism. However, this militarism is not to be confused with alarmist interpretations of potential interstate conflict or a predilection towards violence. Rather, in focusing on the blurred responsibilities between regional naval, coast guard, and civilian organizations, I highlight the social-economic and material dependencies between Arctic civil societies and their governments’ security providers. Specifically, this paper compares Norwegian, Danish, and Canadian approaches to their respective regional maritime security interests, emphasizing how the process of militarization has developed in the relationships between their Arctic civil societies and those countries’ Arctic maritime security infrastructures. It argues that Arctic literature would do well to move beyond binary debates over whether the Arctic is or is not militarized, and instead recognize that certain sectors of regional societies have long been dependent on the continued sustainment and modernization of maritime and, occasionally, naval power, which continuously provides support for peacetime civilian ways of life. Only with this understanding can the material developments of Arctic military and paramilitary power be properly contextualized.

Full Article

Juho Kähkönen

The Arctic is more globalised than ever and, in the Anthropocene, the Arctic region should be recognised as the laboratory of the future of industrial civilization (GlobalArctic, 2020). The actions taking place in the Global Arctic today may indicate how climate change impacts our future (see Finger & Heininen, 2019). Therefore, an analysis of the Arctic can provide a ‘road map’ for the post-Paris Agreement era (see Wu et al., 2018). In the Arctic, where the effects of climate change are the strongest, we see the importance of climate resilience, a concept highlighted in the Paris Climate Agreement. Arctic tourism in Finland is an illustrative example of climate resilience, as the industry has to respond to many different changes at the same time. Finland’s government has set the goal of achieving carbon neutrality as the first industrialised society in the world by 2035. Global warming and the changing business environment is increasing the vulnerability of the tourism industry. Simultaneously, dramatic impacts following COVID-19 restrictions may halt the first-rate success of this locally essential livelihood. Unless we are able to effectively coordinate efforts to develop climate resiliency, the implementation of necessary measures will be delayed.

Full Article

Salla Kalliojärvi

Climate change has become a prominent part of the global security discussion. At the same time private organizations have been increasingly providing a substantial contribution to the implementation of climate adaptation and mitigation. Traditionally, security has been understood in state-centric terms, while global issues such as climate change have belonged under the terrain of international negotiations. With climate change, however, the governance mechanisms used today, are taking on a variety of forms beyond multilateral agreements. By providing significant expertise in technology and service delivery, and committing to even more ambitious greenhouse gas emission reductions than agreed by their governments, private organizations have become active players in the climate change policy arena. Together with the securitization of climate change, the growing significance of private organizations in climate policy and action is raising questions about their role as security providers. This article focuses on the role of transnational corporations (TNCs) in climate governance and discusses the ways in which the increasing significance of TNCs impact on the structure and governance of global security. The Arctic region, while increasingly becoming a prominent part of economic globalization — largely due to global climate change — is anything but isolated from the structural changes occurring in global governance. The growing role of the region in the globalizing economy and the region’s accelerated pace of warming connects it inextricably to the global security.

Full Article

Designed & hosted by Arctic Portal