Arctic Yearbook 2020

Publication: Arctic Yearbook 2020 - Climate Change and the Arctic: Global Origins, Regional Responsibilities?

To download the publication please click on the download link at the bottom of the page

Edited by: Lassi Heininen. Heather Exner-Pirot & Justin Barnes

CNARC member: Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI)

Introduction: The theme of this year’s Arctic Yearbook, “Climate Change and the Arctic: Global Origins, Regional Responsibilities?”, is two-dimensional: on the one hand, recognizing the global origin of climate change/global warming, and on the other, identifying the Arctic region as a linchpin and laboratory of climate change, and discussing and brainstorming possible responsibilities, and even ideas for problem-solving, from Arctic and regional actors. We have been successful in inviting and challenging analysis on the interrelations between the two scales (global and regional), and from the point of view of different activities on the scales (oil and gas development, aquaculture, tourism, science, mitigation), as well as from the aspects of relevant actors (Arctic Council) and groups of actors (Indigenous, gender), and their interests - as the rich lineup of authors and articles clearly shows.

Climate change in the Arctic: The Arctic region is becoming increasingly integrated into world affairs while the region is simultaneously experiencing the growing impacts of climate change and environmental pollution, two of the world’s major ‘wicked’ problems. Rapidly advancing climate change, and in particular the warming of the Arctic region, was largely discussed after the launch of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Report in 2004 (ACIA, 2004). The phenomenon has been known for seventy years or so, scientifically at least, and even in some political circles, that climate change became a U.S. national security concern even before the Cold War became heated. Now, the IPCC reports that the polar regions are experiencing climate change at twice the rate as the rest of the globe. In the summer of 2020, Arctic sea ice extent was reported to be the second-lowest annual minimum on record.

Indeed, the Arctic is considered and has been redefined, at least since 2004, as a linchpin of global warming, like a canary in a coal mine, as well as a laboratory or workshop for climate change research supported by TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge) and Indigenous knowledge. Furthermore, climate change, in particular the Arctic as a victim of global warming, has become one of the major ways of looking at the Arctic. This is partly true and partly paradoxical, as small island states in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, and low-level coastal areas of developing countries, are the first real victims of climate change, simply due to the global nature of climate warming.

Actors seeking to develop the Arctic, as well as actors from outside the region, however, do not necessarily align with a current geopolitical narrative that presents the region as a pristine and fragile environment in need of heightened protection and preservation. This lack of consensus is problematic in the face of climate change, pollution (in particular long-range air and water pollution) and loss of biodiversity, all wicked problems for the Arctic region, and consequently for the Northern Hemisphere, if not the entire globe. (to read more please go to the download link)

Article pointed out by FNI: Fish, Not Oil, at the Heart of (Future) Arctic Resource Conflicts pp. 43-59