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Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic

Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic

Edited by Leif Christian Jensen and Geir Hønneland

The Arctic has again become one of the leading issues on the international foreign policy agenda, in a manner unseen since the Cold War. Drawing on the perspectives of geo-politics and international law, this Handbook offers fresh insights and perspectives on the most pressing issues, grouped under the headings of political ascendancy, climate and environmental issues, resources and energy, and the response and policies of affected countries.

Chapter 5: Arctic securitization and climate change

Teemu Palosaari and Nina Tynkkynen

Subjects: environment, environmental law, environmental politics and policy, law - academic, environmental law, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, international politics


Melting glaciers, sea-level rises, environmental problems and visions of conflicts between states on resources figure prominently in the Arctic discourse that has gained ground in recent years. The buzzword, obviously, is climate change. At the same time, new ways have emerged in which the Arctic is becoming a more integrated part of the global economy. On the one hand, many positive visions regarding the economic prospects of Arctic resources and sea routes are linked to the globalization of the Arctic. In addition to the coastal states, the economic security and welfare of the local populations and indigenous peoples are expected to benefit. On the other hand, the global attention towards the Arctic has led some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to question the sustainability and ethics of Arctic oil and gas exploration, as hydrocarbon use contributes to climate change by increasing greenhouse gas emissions. In this new situation, various understandings of security – including human, economic and environmental security – come together and intertwine with the Cold War understanding that saw Arctic security predominantly in military terms. The Arctic offers a good opportunity to reflect on the different considerations of the concept of ‘security’.

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