Gao Tianming & Vasilii Erokhin

With the progressing exploration of the Arctic as a resource base and trade corridor between the continents, the region is experiencing changes that fundamentally affect the environment, biodiversity, and people. The once established patterns are transforming and bringing new potential risks to the sustainable development of the region. Due to the industrialization in many northern territories, air, water, and soil pollution have been emerging as threats to ecosystems and public health. For those countries that now launch industrial projects in the Arctic, there is a challenge of how to converge the economic benefits with the urgent need for environmental protection. In this chapter, the authors review current policies and potential responses to environmental challenges contained in the national development strategies of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the USA. Among non-Arctic countries, China has emerged as one of the prominent actors in the region, including in the spheres of industrial development and shipping. Other countries also show ever-deeper environmental concerns, but progressing climate change in the High North is not an issue to be solved by any country acting alone. It is of emerging global concern with the broader community of Arctic and non-Arctic countries having a mutual interest in cooperation to ensure the protection of fragile ecosystems and sustainable development of the region. Using China as an example, the authors discuss how non-Arctic states may contribute to the solution of environmental problems in the High North. The study analyses existing international and national approaches to environmental protection and climate change issues in the Arctic. It discusses how varying interests of Arctic states, from one side, and China, from the other, could be translated into effective international policies for the benefit of sustainable development of the region.

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