Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic
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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.
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Chapter 7: Arctic energy policy: global, international, transnational and regional levels

Pami Aalto and Iida Jaakkola


Arctic energy represents one of the most salient policy issues we will encounter, especially in the middle to long term, in this rapidly changing region. Yet it is a very elusive subject. There is no one ‘Arctic energy policy’ even though we might habitually tend to think so. Instead there are several Arctic energy policies. The formulation and implementation of Arctic energy policy are in each instance even more complex than energy policy normally is. This is because the uncertainties involved are greater in the Arctic than elsewhere, owing to still-to-be-resolved issues also discussed in this book, such as the unproven nature of the region’s reserves, the unclear state of the Arctic’s climate, its ice cover, the prospects of maritime transport, and the region’s role in international relations in general. The complexities and uncertainties of Arctic energy policy can generate and exacerbate problems of communication between states, businesses and peoples, poor investment decisions, rent-seeking and corrupt political regimes, environmental problems, and so on. Such risks emerge especially when we consider the increasing number of actors interested in Arctic energy issues, and the different levels from which we can approach these issues. On each level the relevant questions, problems and answers diverge from each other. We suggest distinguishing between four such levels.

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