Towards Model Arctic-Wide Environmental Cooperation Combating Climate Change
Yearbook of International Environmental Law 20 (2009)122-157 (published 2011)
36 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2013 Last revised: 8 Sep 2013
Date Written: September 6, 2013
Arctic-wide intergovernmental cooperation protecting the Arctic environment formally began with the establishment of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS), which later transformed into the Arctic Council. However, the founding documents of cooperation in both were soft-law in nature rather than internationally concluded treaties. The main objective of the Arctic Council is to promote ‘environmental protection’ and ‘sustainable development’ in the Arctic. Neither the AEPS nor the Arctic Council included the issue of climate change in their working agenda or as a primary concern during their establishment. However, the AEPS was concerned with the ‘global climate’ during its formation, although it decided not to address the issue since other international forums had already started to work on it. Nevertheless, climate change seriously affects both of the main objectives of the Council: environmental protection and sustainable development in the Arctic. In the course of time, climate change has become an important issue within Arctic-wide cooperation. The Council provides significant information to policy-makers and other actors by conducting a number of projects to limit climate change in the Arctic or address the consequences caused by climate change to its ecosystems and inhabitants. Even with its institutional weaknesses due to the lack of proper mechanisms, the Council functions through its various working groups and their programs. Two decades after the beginning of cooperation, it is timely to conduct an extensive evaluation of its success mainly in the field of climate change.
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