Volker Roeben & Smith I. Azubuike

The Arctic is experiencing what is understood to be the impact of climate change. As a global environmental challenge, climate change mitigation ideally requires a comprehensive solution. However, when a global agreement is difficult to realise, regional cooperation may be useful to accomplish global mitigation objectives, at least in part, and to enable individuals to adapt to changing climatic conditions. Human rights law reinforces the international law of climate action. It imposes the responsibility on states individually and collectively to respect, fulfil and protect rights concerning the impact of climate change. In carrying out this responsibility, states are to cooperate through appropriate regional fora and to use the potential of these fora to the utmost. International environmental governance underscores the benefits of shared objectives, common historical backgrounds, geographical proximity, and a smaller number of negotiating parties, which make it easier to come to an agreement and to synchronise mitigation effort; the Arctic region benefits from these views. The article first establishes the intersection between climate change and human rights and emphasises the responsibility of states to cooperate. It then identifies and discusses the suitability of the Arctic Council as a forum for their cooperation. It finally examines possible areas of collaboration which include the slowdown of hydrocarbon exploration in the region, utilising offshore off-grid initiatives, and the opening of the North-East Passage to reduce vessel travel time and cut down on CO2 emission. The article concludes that regional coalition formation is crucial for effective climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Arctic region.

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