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Tvergastein was the cabin of Arne Næss, Norwegian ecophilosopher and environmental activist. Næss’ combination of activism and academic work continues to inspire Norwegian environmentalists and environmental scholars.

the opening of the arctic the opening of the arctic

© 2012 Tvergastein


Editorial board: Marit Flood Aakvaag, Sondre Aasan, Mikael Bergius, Sari Cunningham, Maryam Faghihimani, Jørgen Toralv Homme, Theodore Howard, Misha Jemsek, Luis Carlos Rosado van der Gracht, Anna Parshina, Ingerid Salvesen, Eirik Sjåvik, Torstein Tvedt Solberg, Christian Bianchi Strømme, Matthew Tolley, and Eivind Trædal. Design: Eivind Freng Dale Front page photo: Stuart Thomson “Svalbard Summer Ship” (2011) Printer: Grøset Trykkeri Circulation: 1000 Editorial review finished: 11th of November 2012 Date of publication: 20th of November 2012 Tvergastein has two annual issues and is distributed for free at UiO, UMB and several other locations. A digital version can be found at our web page: We would like to extend our sincere gratitude and thanks to Stuart Thomson for lending us his photographs, as well as to our sponsors: The Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM), Kulturstyret at SiO, The Arne Næss Chair in Global Justice and the Environment at SUM, The Interfaculty Research Area LEVE at UiO, and Frifond. The photo on this page is taken by Stuart Thomson, and is entitled “Sea Ice 2012”. Address: Tvergastein, co/SUM, Postboks 1116, Blindern 0317, OSLO E-mail: Web: Facebook: Twitter: @tvergastein The article submission deadline and theme for the spring issue of 2013 will be announced on our web page and our Facebook page. Tvergastein accepts submissions in two categories: Shorter op-ed pieces (2,000 - 5,000 characters) and longer articles (10,000 - 20,000 characters), in either English or Norwegian.


Tvergastein 2nd Issue 4

The opening of the Arctic Editorial Statement

6 Opening up the Arctic – Literally Speaking An icebreaker between science and activism Lena Gross 12

Arctic Fossil Fuel: National Liability Nils Harley Boisen

16 Norway’s Interests Jonas Gahr Støre

in a

Global Predicament

High North

in the

20 Støre’s Arctic Castles In The Air Hanna E. Marcussen 24 Response to Tvergastein’s Arctic Issue ICC Greenland 26 Course Set For Disaster Eivind Trædal 32

in the


A Stepwise Approach to the Arctic Runi M. Hansen, vice president and head of Statoil’s Arctic Unit

36 Opening Oil and Gas Development A Conflict and Risk Assessment Kathrin Keil

in the



Arctic Cooperation and Practices Opening up for Alternative Theories Rasmus Sandvoll Weschke

54 Melting Ice, Empty Lands, Ragnhild Freng Dale


and the


International Relations

New Imagery

of an

‘Opening’ Arctic

62 Stuart Thomson Photo essay 66

Åpningen av Arktis – En Polfarers Intervju med Børge Ousland Mikael Bergius


70 Svart gull i hvitt Arktis David Pettersen Eidsvoll 74 Nordområdepolitikken: A license to Berit Kristoffersen og Leif Christian Jensen


82 Notes from a Bird Cliff Sari Cunningham 86 Effects of POPs Aubrey Jane Roberts

on the

Glaucous Gull Larus

hyperboreus in the


The Other Moratorium – Freezing Central Arctic Fisheries as the Ice Withdraws Sébastien Duyck


Arctic Dreams, Arctic Nightmares Lawrence Buell


The Wolf Population in Norway: Threats Erlend Aarsand and Torgeir Brandsar


The EU: “Champion Mikael Bergius









Population Viability

Land Grab Facilitator



The Opening of the Arctic

The exploitation of Arctic resources will happen. It has always been our key policy to make sure that the rules are clear, both on who owns what and on how to exploit resources. The Arctic is not special in legal terms; it is just an ocean. The area is of course ecologically vulnerable. But it is possible to have responsible drilling. - Espen Barth Eide, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs.1

This issue of Tvergastein focuses on the Arctic region and the changes occurring there as a result of global warming. How these changes should be dealt with is addressed by papers from both the social and natural sciences and by opinion pieces from across the political spectrum. At a time when the Arctic region is more vulnerable than ever, we at Tvergastein feel that these contributions represent part of an important discussion, the outcome of which will have global consequences. As one of the 8 member states of the Arctic Council, Norway holds an influential position in the global negotiations about the Arctic. As such, it is important to carefully consider what the political leaders in this country are saying about the region. 4

In this edition we have published statements, written exclusively for Tvergastein, by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre (replaced by Espen Eide in September of this year), as well as a Statoil vice president and head of the company’s Arctic unit, Runi M. Hansen. These statements give insight into Støre and Hansen’s respective views on the opening of the Arctic, both of which hold to the Norwegian government’s established position on oil exploration. This position is evident in Støre’s contribution, in which he treads the line that has become so familiar in political discourse on climate change; we must avoid dangerous levels of warming by implementing sustainable development policies. The details of what sustainable development in the Arctic would look like are not outlined in Støre’s statement. What is clear from his text, however, is that the Norwegian government has no intention of abstaining from oil exploration in newly accessible areas of the Arctic, let alone of taking measures to actively protect the region. The Arctic is believed to contain around 22% of the world’s undiscovered petroleum. If this petroleum is extracted and burned it will have dire effects on global temperatures.

Though the minister indicates that he is aware that warming of more than 2° Celsius must be avoided, he tempers this acknowledgment by arguing that Norway should still pursue fossil fuel extraction in the Arctic: Introducing unilateral restrictions on petroleum production in Norway would at best only have a limited effect. At worst a decrease in the supply of natural gas could lead to increased consumption of coal. Norway will therefore continue to give the highest priority to efforts to reach a comprehensive global climate agreement.2

Here Støre seems to imply that Norway can make no significant difference in mitigating climate change on its own. Does this mean that while we wait for a global, binding agreement on mitigation, Norway may as well reap the benefits of continued fossil fuel burning? By Støre’s logic Norway can have it both ways; it would be unethical for the country to encourage the increased use of coal, so it must therefore continue to extract cleaner burning natural gas from reserves in the High North. (See Kristoffersen and Jensen’s article Nordområdepolitikken: A License to Drill? for a discussion of this type of reasoning in Norwegian politics.) But even if we accept the premise that a halt on gas drilling

would be environmentally un-friendly there is no indication that Norway intends to limit its resource extraction to natural gas only. It is clear from the statements made by Støre, Eide, and Hansen that the question of extracting oil in the Arctic is primarily one of how it should be done. Whether it should be extracted at all does not appear to be a serious consideration for these state and industry figures. As Tvergastein’s own Eivind Trædal puts it in his article, Støre, and by extension the Norwegian government, is asking the wrong questions about the Arctic. In this edition of Tvergastein we present papers that address some of these un-asked questions about the opening of the Arctic: What will the future of political cooperation in The High North look like? How should fisheries be regulated in the region? How are bird populations coping with the changing environment? And of course; should we allow the extraction of fossil fuels in newly opened areas of the Arctic? We hope that by publishing articles from a range of academic disciplines, we have presented a bigger picture of the opening of the Arctic, a picture that goes beyond one in which the Arctic region is viewed primarily as a source of economic opportunity. A picture where the Arctic is not “just an ocean.” Tvergastein Board of Editors


1 Seidler, C. (2012, October 26): Norway’s New Foreign Minister: ‘Exploitation of Arctic Resources Will Happen’ in Spiegel Online International. 2 Pp. 18 of this volume. 5


Opening up the Arctic – Literally Speaking An icebreaker between science and activism

Lena Gross This summer the rapid melting of the Arctic was covered by the media from Norway to Brazil. The unprecedented rate of melting of the Greenlandic ice sheet in July made headlines everywhere. In addition the summer sea ice extent was at its lowest point since the beginning of satellite observation in 1979. Reading articles and statistics shocked me but I still couldn’t picture it or understand it completely. It took me a long journey, some horrible days of sea sickness and my own eyes witnessing the ice conditions in the Arctic Ocean to get a grip on it. As a social anthropologist with a regional interest in the Arctic and Subarctic, and also a volunteer for the Oslo local Greenpeace group, this summer I had the chance to join the crew of the Arctic Sunrise for a month as an assistant cook. The Arctic Sunrise is an icebreaker, it belongs to Greenpeace and is used, among other Photo: Matthew Tolley

things, to bear witness to the melting Arctic and climate change. To this end, Greenpeace invites both independent scientists and journalists onboard. The scientists carry out their research in areas which are normally very hard to reach, such as the Arctic Ocean. Polar research is also very costly, and that creates restrictions on how much data can be sampled. Through helping with the logistics, Greenpeace wants to do its part to make sure that we get as much information as possible about what is happening. The journalists write about their experience on the ship and help to bring the findings of the scientists to a broader audience. On our trip we were accompanied by Jon Vidal from the British newspaper The Guardian and Camila Nobrega from the Brazilian paper O Globo.1 We also had three researchers on board, Julienne Stroeve, from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, Nick Toberg from the University 7

Opening up the Arctic – Literally Speaking

of Cambridge, and Ettiore Pedretti, a marine instrumentation engineer from the Scottish Marine Institute in Obanto. I will come back to their research at a later point. We started our journey in Tromsø, Northern Norway, passed by Svalbard, and continued going north towards the ice edge. Everyone on board was waiting for the ice to appear, getting more excited with every day that passed. Besides the pure beauty of sea ice and the scientific purpose, our excitement had also a very pragmatic reason: The Arctic Sunrise is designed as an icebreaker, which means that its rounded, keelless hull allows it to navigate through sea ice. It also means that it rolls in every possible and impossible direction in open waters. The sailors on board call her often by her nickname “washing machine”. Even that description doesn’t take into account all the unexpected movements she makes. I would definitely say that the galley (kitchen) is one of the most dangerous places on board as everything is hot, moving, and, if you don’t take care, falling in every direction. This combined with sea sickness, which makes you not just sick but also slow and tired, is a dangerous combination. I am still surprised that I came home with all my fingers and without any serious burns. Everyone was strongly hoping for the ice to appear and we expected it any hour, but nothing happened. Open water after open water. Our Danish ice Helmsman, Arne Sorensen, who has profound experience with sailing in Arctic waters, promised me several times “I’ll find some ice for you soon, Lena.” In his previous trips the sea ice at this time of the year had usually started a little bit north of Svalbard. Not this time. I still have a vivid memory of the moment we crossed the average summer sea ice line. I was visiting the bridge and had a look at the navigation map. There are different nautical charts for different times of the year and you can see where the ice edge can be expected. We had just crossed the line and were in an area painted white on the 8

map. Looking up I couldn’t even spot the smallest ice floe. Nothing. Just open waters. And it continued to be this way the whole day and the following night. It felt unreal. Even satellite data told us that we were supposed to see some ice, but we did not. Finally, the next day, at more than 82 degrees north, we hit the ice. It was mind-blowingly beautiful, hypnotic and magical. I have no other words to describe it. My whole mind was calmed; the crazy rolling of the ship disappeared and changed into a gentle up-and-down-movement, and the cold air was filled by the cracking sound of the ship crashing the ice. We went in further and further in search of ice floes of a certain size. We saw polar bears. We saw seals. We did not see as much solid ice as we should have seen. As far north as 83 degrees we still did not find a continuous cover of ice. And the ice floes were mostly young, not more than one –two years old. Multi-year sea ice is thicker, more resilient and has less salt content, which gives it different electrical properties compared to seasonal ice. What struck us was the obvious discrepancy between the satellite data and what our eyes told us: Even though the data suggested a continuous ice cover at this latitude (around 83 degrees north) we actually never experienced that. The ship was never surrounded by less than around 40-50% open waters. This incongruity can be explained by different factors: the first of which was the weather conditions, as we had had a lot of cloudy and foggy days. Also, there were a lot of melting ponds on the ice floes, which made it harder to distinguish between ice and water. One of the scientists, Dr. Julienne Stroeve, filmed the ice conditions every hour to match it later with the satellite data. She also categorized the ice we saw, and whenever she had the chance to go on an ice floe she drilled holes to measure the thickness of it. Ice thickness is an important factor if you

Lena Gross

want to predict future ice conditions, as thinner ice melts easier and quicker. In an interview with a Greenpeace campaigner, Stroeve explains

out melt ponds.8 This occurs due to their effect on the heat and mass balances of the ice cover.9 Also, the loss of surface accelerates the melting:

Looking up I couldn’t even spot the smallest ice floe. Nothing. Just open waters.

a possible link between the extreme melting of sea ice this year and ice thickness: I’m quite amazed by the level of melting this year, as we knew the ice was getting thinner but hadn’t realized by how much. This year the weather was not particularly warm or conducive to melting. So it must be because the ice is very thin. As more thick ice melts, it is being replaced with first year ice which is much thinner, so the fast melting will continue every year now. I really think, if this year we’d had the weather patterns of 2007,2 the sea ice extent would be below 3 million sq. km. 3

She further describes the different functions of ice thickness (volume), and ice extent (surface area): Well, ice extent is important for reflecting the sun’s rays and keeping the atmosphere cool. But if we lose ice volume, the ice becomes very thin and melts more easily. The decrease in thickness is why we are losing so much surface area of the ice. Thickness also affects polar bears as they cannot hunt on thin ice, they will just fall through.4

Other properties she is interested in are snow thickness, ocean temperatures and the occurrence of melt ponds and whether or not they are frozen. Melt ponds form on Arctic sea ice during the summer.6 A new study7 shows that melt ponds on ice floes accelerate the melting extremely; their simulation suggests a percentage as high as 40% compared to ice floes with-

The heat which was previously reflected by the ice is now mostly absorbed by the ocean; but in autumn when the ice begins to refreeze the heat is absorbed by atmosphere, leading to more clouds and greater moisture in the atmosphere. More clouds in autumn and winter actually keep the atmosphere even warmer. This pushes heat back down to the ocean’s surface, accelerating the ice loss.10

The other two scientists, Nick Toberg and Ettiore Pedretti, were working together to find out more about the effect waves can have on sea ice. In an interview Nick Toberg explained: We will test impact of ocean waves as they hit the ice edge, using buoys fitted with accelerometers. This will fill in the missing physics of how the strength of the waves adds to the ice breaking up and melting. Broken ice reflects sunlight less well as the sun’s rays are absorbed into the ocean beneath. The lack of ice creates even stronger waves which break the ice up more the following year.11

The buoy was constructed and built by Pedretti; the inside looked like the hard drive of a computer and I am still impressed by his fine motor skills. As we were living quite close on the ship we all learned a lot about ice properties, research methods and possible interpretation of data. It was amazing to have the chance to talk to these scientists, see them work and sometimes even to assist them in their research. I learned (and forgot) so many words for different ice conditions, and got so caught up in excitement of their re9

Opening up the Arctic – Literally Speaking

search that I started to doubt my own career choice, which I am quite content with normally. One thing we all waited for was the announcement of the Arctic sea ice minimum by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). And then, on October 2nd you could read it in nearly every newspaper: Arctic sea ice extent reached its lowest point this year on September 16, 2012 when sea ice extent dropped to 3.41 million square kilometers (1.32 million square miles). Averaged over the month of September, ice extent was 3.61 million square kilometers (1.39 million square miles). This places 2012 as the lowest ice extent both for the daily minimum extent and the monthly average. Ice extent was 3.29 million square kilometers (1.27 million square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average.12


It was a record I am very sad I witnessed: this year, the Arctic sea ice extent was at the lowest point since the beginning of modern satellite observations in 1979. It shocked me how even a non-specialist such as myself was able to “see” it. We had been 83 degrees north, further north than any Greenpeace ship had ever been before. And still, if I compared our view with pictures of previous trips around the same time of the year, it looked as if we were further south. We never saw more than 60% ice cover. We did not see multi-year ice floes. Both the scientists on board and sailors from the crew who have been in the Arctic Ocean several times before were shocked by our findings. The Arctic is opening up. Literally speaking.

1 If you are interested in their articles you can find them here: 2 2007 had very unusual winds and weather conditions that contributed to an extreme melt of ice ( press/20121002_MinimumPR.html). 3 4 Ibid. 5 6 7 Flocco, D, Schroeder, D, Feltham L, and Hunke E.C. (2012): “Impact of melt ponds on Arctic sea ice simulations from 1990 to 2007.” Journal of Geophysical Research Geophysical Research. doi:10.1029/2012JC008195, in press 8 9 Ibid. 10 11 Ibid. 12 13 10

Lena Gross

NASA’s image of the September 16 minimum13


Arctic Fossil Fuel: National Liability in a Global Predicament Nils Harley Boisen

Norway is a fascinating country. Small, wealthy, and far to the north. While many outside of Norway might view this country as cold and Arctic, few Norwegians, the majority of whom choose to live in its lower portion, seem to be aware that they are citizens of a unique Arctic nation. Fisheries, shipping, and oil and gas development are all on the rise in Norway’s Arctic, the Bering Sea now becoming the arena for a high stakes game with potentially enormous ecological, economic, and geopolitical consequences. Norway is however not alone in augmenting its Arctic ambitions, while the warnings against appear to be ignored. This past year has been an interesting one for the Arctic. Climate change records have been set, and milestones passed, oil and gas interests continue on their steady destructive course. We’ve seen an increasing concern from scientists and civil society. We’ve even seen forward thinking governmental and financial institutions voicing surprising concern. Yes, it’s been a fascinating, if not an entirely discouraging year for those monitoring events in this increasingly important region at the top of our life support system. The 400 ppm atmospheric CO2 milestone was passed in the Arctic, with the world average following close behind, while we need to remain under 350 ppm to avoid catastrophic climate change, according to many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments. An unusual and powerful hurricane occurred in the Arctic Ocean. The thickness and extent of summer sea ice in the Arctic Sea reached an unprecedented record low. Satellites observed that the surface of the ice sheets of Greenland melted more than ever previously recorded. In one of the most important denning areas for the Barents Sea polar bear population, dens continue a steep decline due to deteriorating sea ice conditions. Yes, for climate change and industrial interests in the Arctic, 2012 has been an attention grabber. Yet, the sensational changes that are Illustration: Esther Nilsen

now rearing their ugly heads are just symptoms of an Arctic that has been warming at about twice the rate of the rest of the globe over the past few decades. Why is the destabilization of Arctic systems so dangerous? Of what consequence to us is the sea ice, the Greenland Ice Sheet, mountain glaciers, the arctic carbon cycle, frozen soils and vegetation, methane stores in soils and sediments? Feedbacks from climate induced changes in the Arctic are hastening global warming towards tipping points, significantly beyond the projections hitherto under consideration by policymakers, and initiating further climate feedbacks. The Recent 2011 Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA) report and the 2009 report on global implications of Arctic climate feedbacks tell us that the Arctic is undergoing climate change degradation far quicker than projected by models used in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report in 2007. Amplification of global warming in the Arctic will have fundamental impacts on Northern Hemisphere weather and climate. The reduction in sea ice and snow cover means reduced albedo, which is already amplifying warming in the Arctic; a positive global warming feedback. Atmospherically this warming spreads over high-latitude land areas, accelerating permafrost degradation, in turn triggering augmented release of greenhouse gases presently locked in frozen soils; a positive global warming feedback. Though increased primary production in the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of the Arctic will sequester carbon, there will be a far greater release of carbon caused by warming, changes in surface hydrology, and increased precipitation; a positive global warming feedback. Present degradation of large methane hydrate deposits sequestered in sub-sea permafrost of the shallow arctic continental shelves, will be, and possibly due to present warming already is, releasing more methane to the atmosphere; an enormous positive global 13

Arctic Fossil Fuel: National Liability in a Global Predicament

warming feedback. Methane is approximately 25 times more potent a climate forcer than carbon dioxide. Globally, more carbon is stored in methane hydrates than in all of Earth’s proven reserves of coal, oil and natural gas combined, and most are stored in continental shelf deposits, particularly in the Arctic shelves.

over, operational difficulties which are characteristic of the Arctic, including sea ice, poor visibility, and challenging weather, increase the risk of such incidents and pose a large challenge for rescue and clean-up response as well. Some improved rationality seems to be gaining foothold in governmental and financial institutions,

It is paradoxical that governments and offshore industry see the retreating sea ice as an opportunity, rather than a warning. Furthermore, warming in the Arctic is affecting weather patterns in northern latitudes by altering patterns of atmospheric circulation, and thus temperature and precipitation patterns, with implications for agriculture, forestry and water supplies. Changes in the Arctic can soon affect global ocean circulation; in turn affecting fisheries and other marine resources. Greenland’s as well as Antarctica’s ice sheets are melting faster than expected. Sea level will rise more than 1.5 metres by 2100, even more than previously thought, putting densely populated, lowlying coastal areas of the world in a particularly perilous situation, especially as extreme weather is on the rise. With all these ongoing changes becoming more visible, with critical tipping points on approach, it is paradoxical that governments and offshore industry see the retreating sea ice as an opportunity, rather than a warning. The economic lure of the precious fossil hydrocarbons that our species has foolishly become so singularly dependent upon is now the impetus for expanding extractive activities into the very region to be most quickly degraded by its own byproducts, with enormous global consequences. The Arctic’s disproportionately higher sensitivity to chronic pollution from production installations as well as acute oil pollution in the event of a well-blowout or shipping accident make this region the least suitable for these activities. More14

as seen recently by British MPs calling on Shell and others to halt “reckless” oil and gas drilling in the Arctic until stronger safety measures are put in place. The world’s largest insurance company, Lloyd’s of London, has been very critical towards oil drilling in the Arctic. The German bank WestLB will not finance Arctic offshore. French multinational oil and gas company Total SA recently said that energy companies should not drill for crude in Arctic waters. Still, all the Arctic costal nations continue building ambitious Arctic oil and gas development schemes, even Iceland and Greenland, for reserves of meaningless size in their contribution to global energy security, yet of enormous value to themselves and the private companies involved, and at even greater risk to the sensitive surroundings. This past year Norway leased out 86 blocks in the Barents and Norwegian Seas. The Institute for Marine Research is critical to 74 of these blocks, 10 of which they believed should not have any development at all. In 2013 Norway desires to lease out areas for oil and gas in its eastern Barents Sea and northward along the newly agreed delineation line with Russia, as well as the waters surrounding Jan Mayen. Norway is even planning to establish a research and expertise centre for petroleum activities in the Arctic. Such ambitions bring into question Norway’s accountability in international commitments towards conserving biodiversity and stav-

Nils Harley Boisen

ing off climate change. Intensified interests in hydrocarbon resource development in Norway’s Arctic, increased shipping, and climate change exacerbation resulting from fossil fuel dependence are the biggest threats towards unique biodiversity in Norway’s Arctic. Sufficiently mapped marine environmental data are missing from the south-eastern Barents Sea, an area of large economic importance from a fisheries perspective, and the north-eastern Barents Sea and waters surrounding Jan Mayen. However, these areas border the ebb and flow of the sea ice extent and therefore are of enormous ecological importance. As seen by the recent licencing of blocks in environmentally important areas in Norway’s southern Barents Sea, oil and gas interests have up to this point trumped environmental consideration where sufficient environmental data validates the area’s importance. This is a good indication that environmental consideration will receive continued neglect as the Norwegian government continues to broaden its oil and gas horizon in the Arctic. Also of great concern is the fact that intensified interests in hydrocarbon resource development in Norway’s Arctic is in direct conflict with Norway’s role in global climate mitigation efforts and the global renewable energy transition. The world has budgeted for emissions of five times more CO2 in the known oil, gas, and coal reserves than what is compatible with keeping the global temperature rise un-

der 2 degrees Celsius, and therefore more than two thirds of the known hydrocarbon reserves must be left alone as we make a global transition to clean energy. Exploiting hitherto unconventional or uncharted hydrocarbons from regions recognized as risky and ecologically sensitive is non-compatible with the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius. This view was recognized in the Copenhagen Accord by 167 countries, including Norway. Together, these countries are responsible for more than 87 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions. Arctic climate change feedbacks will accelerate global warming and weather pattern changes far more than projected up to this point by conservative models. The impact of our dependence on fossil fuels on the Arctic’s physical and biological systems is unprecedented and projected to grow throughout this century and beyond. Global feedbacks we now see are warnings of great discomfort ahead, should we not collectively make the transition to renewable energy, with great constraints on greenhouse gas emissions. Norway, in its unique position as a small, progressive, wealthy nation, could, rather than continue as the same old high stakes player, choose instead to be a game changer: that one little independent country in the North that actually dared shape its global role in reflection of our global challenges.



Norway’s Interests in the High North

Jonas Gahr Støre

Norway’s future is inextricably linked to the future of the Arctic. The polar ice cap is receding, and access to energy resources, minerals and shipping lanes in the region is gradually opening up. Norway is at the heart of this development. Our security depends on peaceful coexistence between the polar nations in the northern hemisphere. And sustainable management of the Arctic’s natural resources can fuel economic growth and create jobs across the country. But most importantly, we have to tackle the grave environmental consequences of climate change in the High North. Rapid change in the Arctic We are facing serious environmental challenges in the Arctic. The temperature here has risen at twice the rate of the global mean over the last decades, and the region is on average two degrees warmer than it was 100 years ago. The area covered by ice in summer has shrunk by one third compared to the average for the period 1979-2000, and new estimates indicate that, in just a few years, the region Photo:

could be virtually ice-free in the warmest months. But the rapid impacts of climate change we are seeing in the High North have other consequences too. A new industrial age in the region is on the horizon. First, a new energy region is emerging. The US Geological Survey has reported that the Arctic is home to 22% of the world’s undiscovered petroleum resources, and 72 of 86 blocks opened for exploration in the current 22nd Norwegian licensing round are located in the Barents Sea. Energy resources in the Arctic will be a pillar of European energy security in the future. Second, the geological region known as the Fennoscandian Shield, which consists of the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and western Russia, is home to rich deposits of minerals that can be further explored. And third, the Northern Sea Route cuts the sailing distance from Yokohama to Rotterdam by 40% compared to the route through the Suez Canal. Last year around 40 ships sailed through the Northern Sea Route, and Russian authorities expect that this figure will in17

Norway’s Interests in the High North

crease to around 600 by 2020. However, a note of caution is needed here. It should be remembered that at present as many as 18,000 ships sail through the Suez Canal annually. And there are still significant obstacles that need to be addressed before the Northern Sea Route can

portion of energy production will continue to be carbon-based for at least the next few decades. Introducing unilateral restrictions on petroleum production in Norway would at best only have a limited effect. At worst a decrease in the supply of natural gas could lead to increased consumption

We must accelerate the transition to low carbon economies. But the world needs energy.

be commercially viable, such as extremely tough weather conditions, darkness, ice, and significant challenges regarding search and rescue. Developmental dilemmas While we clearly see the potential of the Arctic, we also face dilemmas, but not insurmountable barriers. Increased shipping through the Northern Sea Route promises economic benefits, but accidents in the Arctic Ocean could have serious negative consequences, not least on the environment. Shipping must therefore be subject to the highest safety and environmental standards, and Norway supports the development of a mandatory Polar Code under the International Maritime Organization. Petroleum production in the vulnerable Arctic environment raises serious questions. Oil and gas activities involve an inherent risk of accidents. An oil spill could have a devastating effect on marine life in this region. The Norwegian Government has therefore insisted that oil and gas activities in the Arctic must be weighed against the interests of other industries within the framework of integrated, ecosystem-based management. And we enforce among the most stringent safety and environmental standards for oil and gas activities in the world. Producing more petroleum is a dilemma in itself. The message from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is clear: if we are to limit global warming to 2° Celsius, we must accelerate the transition to low carbon economies. But the world needs energy, and a significant pro18

of coal. Norway will therefore continue to give the highest priority to efforts to reach a comprehensive global climate agreement. Furthermore, we can and must reduce the carbon footprint from the production and use of fossil fuels. Norway is committed to making carbon capture and storage (CCS) a realistic option in the future. Another case in point is gas flaring, which is prohibited on the Norwegian continental shelf. Restricting gas flaring in the Arctic is particularly important. Emissions of short-lived climate drivers such as black carbon, methane and tropospheric ozone contribute considerably to the warming of the Arctic. Furthermore, when black carbon (soot) covers snow and ice, melting is accelerated. The prohibition of gas flaring has also fostered innovative and cleaner technological solutions. Knowledge is key Norway is in a good position not only to seize the opportunities but also to shoulder the responsibilities associated with the rapid changes taking place in the High North. We have extensive experience and expertise in sound management of petroleum production and fish stocks in northern waters, and we can build on a centuries-long history of making sea travel safe. However, to unlock the full potential of the Arctic, more knowledge is needed. New research will enable us to fully understand the challenges ahead and help us to make the right decisions. The High North Research Centre for Climate and the

Jonas Gahr Støre

Environment (Fram Centre) which was opened in 2010, is made up of 19 member institutions. A new polar research programme was established in 2011 under the auspices of the Norwegian Research Council. And a new research centre on challenges related to petroleum activities in the Arctic will also be created. These and other activities will help Norway sustain its position at the forefront of research on a range of topics related to the Arctic climate, resources and environment. Cooperation and peaceful coexistence The Arctic is not a legal void or a political vacuum. The Law of the Sea forms the legal basis for all activities in the Arctic Ocean – as it does in all oceans and seas of the world. Existing international law provides a predictable framework for addressing present and foreseeable challenges in the Arctic. In the Ilulissat Declaration (28 May 2008) the five coastal states bordering the Arctic Ocean – Norway, Russia, Canada, Denmark (Greenland) and the United States – confirmed their continued commitment to the legal framework in the Arctic Ocean and to the orderly settlement of possible overlapping claims. The 2010 Treaty Concerning Maritime Delimitation and Cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean between Norway and the Russian Federation is a prime example of the practical application of the principles set out in the existing legal framework. This agreement was a true milestone because unresolved maritime boundaries can be particularly difficult for states to resolve. Furthermore, inter-governmental cooperation on the most pressing issues facing the region has been developed, not least through the Arctic Council. The Arctic Council was originally founded in 1996, but has only held meetings at a high political level over the last few years. Anticipating increased shipping traffic, a legally binding inter-governmental agreement on search and rescue (SAR) was concluded in 2011. In addition, the Arctic Council has established a task force to develop an international instrument on Arctic

marine pollution preparedness and response. The decision in 2011 to establish a permanent secretariat, located in Tromsø, will further strengthen the Council’s capacity to respond to the challenges and opportunities in the region. Other forms of inter-state cooperation will also be needed as the Arctic region is developed. An ecosystem- and science-based approach to sustainable marine resource management requires regional cooperation. The Barents Sea is home to some of the world’s most abundant fish resources, such as the northeast Arctic cod. The fisheries in the Barents Sea are managed successfully by Norway and Russia in close bilateral cooperation, in which the Joint Norwegian–Russian Fisheries Commission plays a key role. The North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) and our bilateral cooperation with the EU, Iceland and the Faroe Islands are also important in this regard. People-to-people contact in the region should continue to be encouraged. The Barents Cooperation has created significant cultural interchange, and commercial ties across borders have increased. A testament to the success in fostering cross-border contact is the increase in the number of people passing through the Norwegian-Russian border. From 1990 to 2011 this figure rose from 8000 to 200,000. A challenging but promising future Realising the potential of the Arctic will not be easy. The dilemmas related to increased economic activity in the High North must be carefully thought through, and the states in the region must continue to be cognisant of their legal and moral obligations. But we are on the right path. Petroleum and marine resources in the High North will help provide a foundation for our future prosperity, and we remain determined to preserve the unique Arctic environment. Finally, let us remember that the legal and political frameworks needed to maintain the Arctic as a region of peaceful coexistence based on international law are already in place.



Støre’s Arctic Castles in the Air

Hanna E. Marcussen National Spokesperson, Norwegian Green Party

What is the point of looking for more, when we have already found too much?

There are huge amounts of petroleum hidden beneath the Arctic Ocean. The main objective of responsible Norwegian politics in the High North would be to leave these resources where they are. If they are extracted, there is no sustainable future for the world’s population. This claim will prove to be true even if the world’s countries manage to reach a common agreement to reduce climate emissions. An ambitious commitment will in fact make the Arctic oil worthless. The risk involved in an oil adventure in the Arctic is huge, in two senses of the word. A strategic choice Examining today’s development in the High North is like looking into the future. Global warming happens at double pace in the Arctic compared to the rest of the world. Rapid changIllustration: Ellen Reitan

es in the climate affect the icecap and the vulnerable ecosystems. Conditions for the shipping, petroleum and fishing industries are changing rapidly, and the area is of increasing importance in a multitude of arenas. This implies that countries with interests in the Arctic have to make some strategic choices for the future. Should we turn the Arctic and the High North into a playground for the petroleum industry, or should we rather prioritize the climate, preservation of nature and the fishing industry? In this edition of Tvergastein, former Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre discusses Norwegian interests in the High North. The Minister opens his article apparently concerned. “We are facing serious environmental challenges in the Arctic”, Støre writes, and points to the prognosis that the Arctic, in just a few years may, 21

Støre’s Arctic Castles in the Air

practically speaking, become ice-free during the warmest months. Støre has good reason to be concerned. In September this year, the ice in the Arctic was at its lowest level in history. The previous record, set in 2007, had already been passed by the end of August. Multiple indicators suggest that climate changes in the Arctic have transitioned into a new phase during the last few years. Ever since the hot summer of 2007, ice coverage has not recovered to previous levels; positive feedbacks seem to have been initiated in the Arctic climate system. Climate change is a complex process, but certain aspects of the crisis are still quite easy to grasp. The main driver causing the climate to change at a rapid speed is the extraction of oil and gas from the ground. The main solution to the problem would be to stop extracting oil and gas, and start using alternative energy sources. It is impossible to defend the oil industry by pointing at good Health, Safety and Environment rules, security measures and claims about Norwegian oil production being among the world’s “cleanest.” Almost all climate emissions from the petroleum industry (more than 98%) occur during consumption. The only measure which could really make a difference is to leave the oil and gas in the ground. This simple logic must have consequences for Norwegian policies in the Arctic. Frightening mathematics We even have clear numbers telling us how much petroleum we can extract before we condemn future generations to an unsafe and dangerous future. This summer, the American climate expert Bill McKibben published the article “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math” in the magazine Rolling Stone. The numbers show that the atmosphere cannot bear more than 565 new gigatons of CO2, before we cross the internationally agreed-upon goal of avoiding global warming above 2 degrees. The reason behind this 2 degree limit is known to most of 22

us: if the temperature increase amounts to more than two degrees, we will lose the opportunity to stop global warming. The changes will be self-perpetuating, irreversible and catastrophic. The planet may be transformed into something unrecognizable. The world’s oil and energy companies have proven fossil fuel reserves containing 2975 gigatons of CO2. In practice, this means that 80 percent of the known reserves of fossil energy will have to remain in the ground. If we imagine that all coal production could be stopped overnight, the known reserves of conventional oil and gas would alone be enough to destroy the climate. On the basis of these numbers, two questions arise that the Norwegian government should ask itself when planning Norwegian activities in the Arctic. 1. What is the point of looking for even more oil and gas – when the world has already found far too much? 2. If Norway cannot afford to leave our petroleum resources in the ground, who else can? A global climate agreement would make Arctic oil and gas valueless The Green Party claims that there are no good answers to these two questions. Indeed, there is no sustainable scenario that is compatible with a fossil fuel industry adventure in the Arctic. Not even a global climate agreement would be able to change this, as both Jonas Gahr Støre and other Norwegian politicians are claiming when they defend the Norwegian oil adventure. If climate negotiations proceed as planned, the countries involved will settle on a global agreement in 2015. The agreement would then be put into practice from 2020. A point of departure for such an agreement will necessarily be the same two degree limit that the world’s countries have agreed upon, and the numbers in Bill McKibben’s article. The instruments and penalties in the agreement will have to be powerful enough

Hanna E. Marcussen

to restrain the world’s oil companies and oil countries from extracting their fossil resources. This implies making it illegal or impossible to consume fossil energy at today’s scale. In this situation it is the resources which are the most easily accessible and the cheapest to extract, which will gain in the contest of satisfying an ever decreasing demand for fossil energy. The world will lose interest in the expensive and hard-to-access Arctic oil. Støre’s dream of an Arctic oil age will prove to be a castle in the air. If the minister is able to put two and two together in the discussion about oil and climate, he will have to understand that Norway has to make a choice. Which future should Norway invest in? If we continue today’s rapid expansion into the High North until 2020, we will have invested huge amounts of money in an industry which will eventually die. How will this impact Norway’s role in the work towards a global climate agreement? To gamble that the fight against climate change will fail may soon prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Norway may lead the way If we choose to plan for a scenario where the world succeeds in solving the climate crisis, the only reasonable steps are to scale down and eventually phase out our consumption of fossil energy. This is also valid from an isolated economic perspective. In the decades to come, the

transformation to a renewable infrastructure for transport, food production, energy production and other sectors will be the most important sector for growth. The transition has to happen at a rapid pace, and will imply a considerable amount of both human and economic resources. Today, Norway acts as though we deny that we are about to enter, or have already entered, a paradigm shift. It could have been different. If Jonas Gahr Støre had transformed his concern into action, Norway could have done something wonderful for the world. We are a small country, but we have powerful instruments in the fight against the climate crisis. We have a unique role due to our economic situation and the fact that we play an important role in Europe’s energy supply. We enjoy a lot of respect in a number of international arenas, and last but not least: our sovereignty in huge areas in the Arctic gives us the opportunity to lead the way and stop searching for oil in the world’s most “promising” areas. In his article, Støre asserts that 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered petroleum resources are situated in the Arctic. A responsible government would use this fact to keep the oil companies away from the High North. It is sad and frightening that Støre is of the opposite view.



Response to Tvergastein’s Arctic Issue Inuit Circumpolar Council Greenland

ICC Greenland agree with Mr. Støre’s piece on several issues • The grave environmental consequences of climate change in the High North must be tackled. Like in Norway, Greenland is experiencing obviously perceptible climate change, with rising temperatures, and newly ice-free seas in North Greenland. With the icecap quickly melting, stronger action against CO2 emissions is needed. • Oil and mineral and gas activities: The Greenlandic society is on its way from being an economy based on hunting and fishing to one with a significant mineral, and likely oil, industry. It won’t be easy to tackle large-scale projects, multi-national companies, at the same time as the environmental concerns which the ICC prioritizes. At the same time, the ICC also supports sustainable use of the Arctic resources, and especially public involvement in the decision-making proces. • Knowledge: Regarding the development of industry taking place in the High North, more knowledge is needed, as Mr. Støre comments in his piece. The ICC agrees with this too, and for the ICC it is also important to be aware of traditional knowledge, for example knowledge of climate changes. More study should be conducted in coorperation with universities and other institutions in the Arctic. It is also important that other forms of inter-state cooperation in the Arctic region are developed. •

Economic growth and increased economic activity are important for countries in the Arctic. For Greenland, for this development to be economically sustainable, it must be carefully thought through. ICC again promotes public consultation and participation in the industrial development of Greenland, but also for Inuit in the whole Arctic. The rights of indigenous peoples must be kept in mind.

For a peaceful Arctic in the future, ICC Greenland Photo: Altynbek Kozhakhmetov



Course Set For Disaster in the Arctic

Eivind Trædal

In this issue, foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre outlines the main elements of the Norwegian government’s Arctic policy. He puts much emphasis on knowledge. “To unlock the full potential of the Arctic, more knowledge is needed. New research will enable us to fully understand the challenges ahead and help us to make the right decisions.” The many Norwegian efforts to gather information and increase Norwegian understanding of the Arctic will “help Norway sustain its position at the forefront of research on a range of topics related to the Arctic climate, resources and environment.” I will argue that the Norwegian government is not asking the correct questions in our quest for knowledge about the Arctic, and that knowledge, though important, is not the key to our Arctic policy; rather, political choices made with imperfect knowledge are. Norway’s arctic policy is outlined in many documents. The most central to our oil producing future is the “Management Plan for the Barents Sea” (Forvaltningsplanen for Barentshavet Photo: Mikhail Dobrovolskiy

og Lofoten, my translation).1 This political tool was introduced by the Center-Right Bondevik Government in 2002, and compiled by the Department of Oil and Energy, with the help of several other departments, as well as Norwegian research institutions. The plan was supposed to be the main document outlining Norway’s plans for the Arctic region, and even played a possibly important political role in 2009, when the making of the plan was used as an excuse for Gahr Støre’s now ruling Labor Party to not clarify their position on the issue of oil excavations in Lofoten and Vesterålen.2 In research, the art of asking and framing a question is as important as the art of answering it. Right answers to wrong questions might be just as useless as wrong answers to right questions. The questions that are central to the Norwegian Arctic policy are as important as the knowledge they produce. What implicit question has the government asked of our researchers? In the introduction to the management plan, the topic at hand is outlined: 27

Course Set For Disaster in the Arctic [T]he purpose of the management plan is to prepare for creation of value through a sustainable use of resources and ecosystem services in the Barents sea and the ocean areas

the history of the management plan. The second Bondevik administration, formed in 2001, was led by The Christian People’s Party (KrF), who had promised its voters that “the establishment

This policy instrument was always supposed to provide a way of combining oil with other sectors in the area. outside of Lofoten, and at the same time uphold the structure, function, production and biodiversity of the ecosystems. The management plan is a tool to both prepare for value creation and uphold the environmental values in the area.3

As we can see, value creation is the main goal. What does this mean? In the management plan, the overarching framework for current and future use of ocean areas is clarified, and we “prepare for the coexistence between businesses such as fisheries, sea transport and petroleum.”3 Thus, the scientists are de facto asked to find ways to square the circle of extracting petroleum while protecting fisheries and ecosystems. Whether these three goals are possible to reconcile is not questioned, but presented as a given. Scientists are asked to explain how, not whether, to open up new areas to oil extraction. These management plans have been used to subdue the important debate on oil excavation in the Arctic. During Norway’s last parliamentary election, oil excavation outside of Lofoten and Vesterålen was a central issue, but the Labor party (which Mr. Støre represents) chose not to take a stand, with reference to the coming management plan.4 They claimed that the management plan would provide the necessary information on whether the oil exploration would be safe or not. However, as shown above, this policy instrument was always supposed to provide a way of combining oil with other sectors in the area. This seemingly pragmatic and innocuous phrasing is more troublesome when one looks at 28

of dedicated preserved zones on the Norwegian shelf should be taken into consideration.”5 This was also promised in the bill which established the new management plan.6 And the same advice was given by the Directorate of Pollution (now the Directorate of Climate and Pollution, Klif ). Another reason for the new tool was the threat of illegal civil disobedience actions against the extraction plans in the Arctic. The new plan was a way of increasing the legitimacy of the oil policy. One of the political promises which was apt to sooth the Norwegian fishermen and environmentalists was that the plan would consider areas of the oceans to be declared ‘petroleum free’. This idea was launched by the Norwegian Young Friends of the Earth (Natur og Ungdom). The idea was especially politically feasible because it would permit other industries such as fisheries to use the areas, and not entail unpopular preservation measures for industries other than oil. The Ministry of the Environment was given the task of leading the interdepartmental work with the plans.7 However, when the first draft was ready, the new ‘Red-Green’ coalition had taken power, with Støre as one of the central new ministers. Despite the ‘green’ image, the idea of oil-free areas was removed. This was not only a political decision, but also the result of pressure from the Department of Oil and Energy, which in an impressive display of circular argumentation claimed that the policy of preserving fisheries and ecosystems from oil was “breaching the goal of coexistence.”8 This overturn of governmental policy by a department

Eivind Trædal

was successful, and ensured that the management plans could only serve as a rubber stamp on future oil interests, in one way or another.9 The idea of preserving vulnerable areas from oil extraction has not been considered seriously by our government since, and was not included as part of the Norwegian climate policy report of 200610 nor in the climate consensus bill of 2012.11,12 This means that the reports can, at best, be used as a basis to delay the leasing out of Norwegian Arctic shelf to the petroleum industry. The question allows for few degrees of freedom – either the leasing out of a ‘block’ of our ocean shelf, or a delay. A third option of preserving the area should have been made explicit, so that we could have credible and comprehensive knowledge about which areas scientists think should never be made subject to the ‘coexistence’ of oil, fisheries and fragile ecosystems. Today, such warnings are spread among the various scientific institutions involved in the planning process. What role has the knowledge-based management played? Is it really such a big deal if this plan does not include a durable no-drill option? There are other laws, like the law on biodiversity and the law on oceanic biodiversity. Perhaps these could be used to spare some of our oceans, if we have the knowledge that they are endangered? Alas, none of these have real teeth. The management plan specifies that the “activity should not endanger the natural resources,” but follows this up with three points about how important it is to facilitate “the largest amount of new value creation,” that “petroleum activity should facilitate value creation,” and that there should be “facilitation of profitable oil and gas within the framework of health and environment standards adapted to the ecosystems.”13 This balancing act puts a lot of pressure on the plan’s ability to gather knowledge. After ten years, our knowledge of Arctic ecosystems is still weak. The plan goes through the environmental status in a tone that engenders little confidence

in its ability to keep its feet on the tightrope: “because of several uncertain and poorly documented factors, it’s not possible to say what consequences the collective human activity actually has on the ecosystem, but several large interferences on the same place and time entails a larger risk of consequences for the ecosystem.” 14 The plan mentions ocean acidification and increased ocean temperatures as two sources of a possible irreversible shift. The consequences are “hard to predict, but potentially very large.”14 These are huge gaps in the knowledge we are supposed to base our management on, gaps that should make us question the very possibility of a technocratic, scientific magement of these areas. The management plan may still be used as an example that knowledge is key to proper management of the Arctic. The biggest knowledge gap seems to concern what kind of questions we need to ask to get the best scientific advice for our Arctic policy. As long as our government only asks for ‘coexistence’, scientists will not be able to give the politicians good advice. It is a question our scientists come pretty close to admitting that they are not able to answer, in the latest update to the management plan. Støres “knowledge is key” line collides with the epistemological restraints of our scientists facing a complex and immense ecosystem that is under heavy pressure. And that is not even considering the global effects on our climate. If we try to factor that in as well, as Norway of course should, we are left with consequences so hard to predict that we might ask ourselves if any amount of research will make them ‘manageable’ somewhere outside of the political sphere. It is worrying that the scientists seem unable to chart the real consequenses of Arctic drilling. A possible cause for deeper concern is the depoliticizing effect of making Arctic oil drilling a purely bureaucratic and scientific question. The 2009 elections show us that gathering of knowledge in fact can have another effect, whether intended or not: to defuse hot-button issues 29

Course Set For Disaster in the Arctic

and make them less understandable for ordinary citizens. In 2009, Støre’s Labor Party refused to clarify their stance on drilling outside of Lofoten and Vesterålen. Thus, they obfuscated the differences between themselves and parties that were against oil drilling in Lofoten and the Barents Sea, effectively reducing the democratic legitimacy of future oil policy. When we consider how massive these projects are, and what immense importance they both have in terms of investments, possible effects on our climate and the fate of local ecosystems, this becomes especially troubling. In a democracy, there cannot be issues ‘too big’ for the people to make up their mind about and have a proper understanding of. The Labor party must have known that the report was not supposed to give thumbs up or thumbs down on drilling. This had been known since 2006, when the first iteration of the Management Plan stipulated that the goal was to facilitate ‘coexistence.’15 It’s hard to read this as anything other than a tactical move. This puts the role of the scientist in an even more sinister light. The legitimizing nature of the interdepartmental development plans, useful as they might be to make the extraction of Norwegian Arctic petroleum resources less damaging, keeps the scientist in tight reins. A truly knowledge-based decision process would include discussion of not extracting petroleum at all, in the cases where extraction is not possible without damaging local or global ecosystems beyond repair. But an even broader understanding of the consequences throws the whole process in question. As is clearly stated in the plan, climate change and ocean acidification, the two major effects of CO2 emissions, are potentially devastating to the ecosystem, and incredibly hard to predict. Are we to believe that any amount of knowledge of the Arctic can remove the inevitable effect of yet another million-year old reservoir of fossil energy being extracted and burned over a few years? Most of the locations in the southern area of the Norwegian ocean shelf 30

are already opened. Here, we could have taken some first steps away from the oil bonanza. We could have preserved a vulnerable and unique ecosystem, reduced future climate change and ocean acification, and shifted investments over to greener industries. This discussion is not even on the table in the Management plan. The soothing voice of Jonas Gahr Støre becomes inaudible when whispered against the storms of our grandchildren, and the thunder of Greenland’s glaciers collapsing into the sea. Undoubtedly, knowledge is not the key. What we need is priorities and choices, uncomfortable as they may be. There are difficult choices to be made in Norwegian Arctic policy, choices that will impact the fate of Norwegians and other citizens of the world for generations to come. These choices do not require narrowly framed research reports. But even a vastly broader scope would not be enough. Even if the questions we asked of our scientists involved larger degrees of freedom (the establishment of petroleum free areas, for example), we would still lack broad, inclusive political debates about our management of our most vulnerable ecosystems. We will need knowledge, but we will never have enough of it. All the major decisions we take as societies are taken with imperfect knowledge. This is not to say that we should move to a radical employment of the precautionary principle. Decisions must be taken, albeit with some degree of doubt. Still, it seems as if our politicians have moved too far in the opposite direction, refusing to take a stance, always waiting for another report to mask the slow glide towards ‘business as usual’ – read: catastrophic climate change and the collapse of ecosystems. Perhaps it is time to realize that knowledge is not key in the Arctic. What’s needed is wisdom. The wisdom to understand that we cannot research our way out of the perennial dilemmas of petroleum extraction in an increasingly unstable climate and into increasingly more vulnerable areas.

Eivind Trædal


1 Miljøverndepartementet (2011): Forvaltningsplanen for Barentshavet - Lofoten Helhetlig forvaltning av det marine miljø i Barentshavet og havområdene utenfor Lofoten 2 NRK (2009, September 3): Velg! 09. Hentet mars 14, 2010 fra gttp:// 3 Miljøverndepartementet (2011): Forvaltningsplanen for Barentshavet - Lofoten Helhetlig forvaltning av det marine miljø i Barentshavet og havområdene utenfor Lofoten 4 AP kunne tapt velgere: Flydal, E. F. (2009, 9 1): Jens taper flest velgere på oljeboring i Lofoten. Hentet Februar 20, 2010 fra : 5 KRF: Kristelig Folkepartis Valgprogram (2001). 6 St.meld. nr. 12 (2001-2002): Rent og rikt hav 7 Ibid. 8 Berge, U. (2005): Petroleumsaktivitet i Barentshavet: Konflikt eller sameksistens? Oslo. 9 Ibid. 10 St. meld. Nr.34 2006/2007Norsk klimapolitikk 11 NOU (2006): 18 Et klimavennlig Norge. 12 Meld. St. 21 (2011–2012): Melding til Stortinget Norsk klimapolitikk/ 13 St.meld. 10 (2010–2011) 14 Meld. St. 10 (2010–2011): Melding til Stortinget: Oppdatering av forvaltningsplanen for det marine miljø i Barentshavet og havområdene utenfor Lofoten 15 St.meld. nr. 8 (2005-2006)



A Stepwise Approach to the Arctic

Runi M. Hansen, vice president and head of Statoil’s Arctic Unit

Statoil has carried out exploration in the Arctic for over 30 years. The industry as a whole has been active in the region for over 90 years. Throughout this period the industry has gathered knowledge, increased its competence and developed technology to take on new challenges. Statoil is working across the Arctic because we believe its resources will be a critical source of energy for a growing world. Economic growth and rising standards of living will result in a more than 30 per cent increase in global energy demand over the next 30 years. In order to replace existing production and meet increases in future demand, the world will need an “all of the above” energy strategy – one that includes the Arctic offshore resources. We see great resource Photo: Kjetil Alsvik / Statoil

potential in the region, and yet, the Arctic continental shelf contains some of the least explored basins on earth. But just as we see great potential in the Arctic, we also see great complexity. Some say the Arctic is a microcosm of the political and technological challenges our industry faces on a global scale. We believe that offshore Arctic exploration and development will put new demands on our industry. We face extreme and volatile climactic conditions, vast distances, and ice-filled waters. The Arctic communities require special care and consideration. These are some of the most sensitive and vulnerable communities on earth. The industry needs to meet these challenges proac33

A Stepwise Approach to the Arctic

tively – with the highest standards on Health Safety and Environment and operational quality. The world has started to think of the Arctic as a single region. In our view, there are “many Arctics” and we in the industry must recognize this and engage accordingly. We must take into account that each Arctic community has unique interests and concerns.

for which we need radical innovation to drill or develop, such as the East Coast of Greenland, were we have served as operator of the Kanumas group. Statoil is committed to a long term presence in the Arctic offshore. It’s part of who we are – a technology focused upstream company, with the ambition to be a leading exploration player. But

This time, the emergence of the Arctic has the potential to be one of the defining economic and political issues of the 21st century. Long-term positioning Statoil has positioned itself for long-term growth in the Arctic. Our 40 years of activity in harsh conditions off the Norwegian coast have made us uniquely experienced. This leads us to believe that we have the capacity to play a leading role in the partnerships that will unleash the potential of the Arctic. This is a stepwise approach in which we only move to the next stage when the technology, capacity and competence allow us to. We have strong acreage positions throughout the entire Arctic and participate in Arctic offshore projects in all phases of development. We think of the Arctic offshore basins in three categories: • First, the Workable Arctic – those basins we can drill and develop today, with some modifications. Our positions in the Norwegian Barents Sea and the Grand Banks are good examples. • Secondly, the Stretch Arctic – those basins we can drill today but that require incremental innovation in the development and production stages. Our exploration plans for Sea of Okhotsk fit into this category. • And finally, the Extreme Arctic – basins 34

long-term success in the Arctic offshore will be about much more than experience, leases and technology. Success in the Arctic is also about taking the right approach. It requires a strong commitment to safety, flawless operational execution and thorough understanding of the environment. Political will has opened different parts of the Arctic for energy development. But we in the industry must not mistake legal permissions for permanent access. In a new frontier, access must be earned – again and again. In the Arctic, we must take an approach that focuses on trust, shared value, and innovation. In the early phases of our operations – seismic and exploration – we must establish trust between communities, governments, and industry. Trust can only be built on bedrock of openness, dialogue and responsibility and on a commitment to zero harm and sustainability. Once development begins, we must take our engagement to the next level. We need to move beyond CSR initiatives and emphasize shared value. We must respect traditional ways of life, but also offer Arctic communities the option to take a meaningful place in our business model and a future role in the emerging Arctic offshore industry.

Runi M. Hansen


way forward

The full potential of the Arctic can only be unlocked through innovation – more collaborative business models and more joint technology programs. This is the only way to reduce costs and make Arctic projects commercially viable and globally competitive. We believe that Statoil’s approach will make us a strong partner for communities, governments, and our peers. We are building strong partnerships around the Arctic. More of these innovative business models are essential for our industry to explore the potential of the North American frontier in a safe and efficient manner. Even greater collaboration is needed to drive down costs, develop Arctic-specific technologies, and convince our stakeholders and local partners that the industry can respond to emergencies in extreme Arctic conditions.

There is no margin for error. A spill in the Arctic could harm the environment, close the region to development for decades and deny the world an important source of energy. For centuries, the history of the Arctic has been characterized by a cycle of boom and bust – fishing, fur trading, mineral extraction, oil, gas – but this time, it’s different. This time, the emergence of the Arctic has the potential to be one of the defining economic and political issues of the 21st century. Our industry is at the very centre of this issue. The Arctic is a natural arena for collaboration, between nations, industries and peoples. Arctic nations are actively collaborating - on boundaries, on environmental research, and on regulations. We are encouraging this and doing our part.



Opening Oil and Gas Development in the Arctic A Conflict and Risk Assessment1

Kathrin Keil

The recent reopening of Alaskan Arctic waters to hydrocarbon exploitation has sparked a remarkable interest in the increasing economic utilisation of Arctic resources. This has also led to predictions about possible conflict over Arctic resources because of rising stakes and insufficient institutional regulations. Analysts contemplate the possibility of violent conflict over natural resources in the Arctic, forecasting a “new scramble for territory and resources” and a race “to carve up the region.” To this they add overblown terms like “Arctic meltdown” and, in general, use language that raises fears of a possible “new Cold War” as “the region could erupt in an armed mad dash for its resources”.2 Such Illustration: Michele Solmi, [modified]

statements use simplistic underlying assumptions, taking a one-size-fits-all approach to a very complex issue like the increasing economic development of the Arctic region. But, in fact, activities such as increasing oil and gas development, usage of new shipping lanes and utilisation of new fishing grounds all have different underlying interest constellations about diverse goods or resources. They thus demand different institutional responses in order to guarantee sustainable development of the North. Oil and gas have often been depicted as the Arctic commodities most likely to be the cause of eventual conflict, given the combination of rising demand for hydrocarbon resources world37

Opening Oil and Gas Development in the Arctic

wide and their increasing scarcity, as well as political tension in traditional extraction regions such as the Middle East and North Africa. Thus, this paper focuses on the conflict potential of increasing Arctic oil and gas development. It starts by outlining the main actors’ (i.e., the five Arctic littoral states’) actual stakes and interests in Arctic energy resources. These stakes and interests, together with the commodity character of Arctic energy resources and the interdependence of the actors involved, provide a coherent picture of the likelihood of eventual confrontation. A second part analyses the institutions providing rules for Arctic oil and gas development and assesses if these institutions are adequate to contain possible conflicting interests. A conclusion brings these analytical parts together. This paper demonstrates that, in fact, oil and gas exploitation shows little potential to cause confrontation between states, despite the existence of a number of overlapping claims in the Arctic.3 While it cannot be entirely ruled out that these disputes could play an important role as a proxy for outer-Arctic conflicts, the more likely risks lie elsewhere, predominantly in the still rather sketchy international and regional provisions for transboundary environmental protection. What are the Stakes?4 Arctic oil and gas resources are of substantial interest to Arctic actors on the European side of the High North, most clearly to Norway and Russia. In contrast, the US and Canada have only a weak economic interest in the large-scale exploitation of their Arctic hydrocarbon base. This has largely to do with the low competiveness of US and Canadian Arctic oil and gas resources with resources further south, which are already much better explored and connected to infrastructure systems. The shale gas revolution in the lower 48 has made Alaskan gas unprofitable, and limited infrastructure renders pipeline or tanker transport of Alaskan gas to US or Asian markets unattractive. Alaskan oil 38

production has been in steady decline since the late 1980s, and prospective new resources are still highly speculative, facing among other issues regulatory challenges and environmental concerns. Offshore production especially in the Gulf of Mexico is already increasing today and, given the much larger contribution to US crude oil production, is likely to be more effective to meet the government’s oil independence goals. Increasing Canadian oil sands production in the years ahead and a highly integrated North American market for this oil in form of NAFTA creates another, probably unbeatable competitor for Alaskan oil. The vast majority of Canada’s huge hydrocarbon reserve base is outside its Arctic region. The biggest share of oil and gas production is in the West Canadian Sedimentary Basin, especially in the province Alberta where the vast majority of oil sands are also located. Shale gas production, the projected gas of the future, is primarily located in British Columbia. Prime Minister Harper has in recent months strongly promoted development and export options for Albertan oil, either through the (for now halted) Keystone XL Pipeline south to the US or via liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker to Asia.5 The picture looks very different for Russia, the largest Arctic state. Russia has the world’s biggest gas reserves and substantial oil reserves as well, the majority of which are located in the Russian North. Western Siberia accounts for more than two-thirds of Russian oil and gas production and the vast majority of found and expected resources. Importantly, the hydrocarbon sector is of very high importance to the overall Russian economy, and thus has high strategic value for Russia’s foreign policy. Exploration and exploitation of northern hydrocarbon resources has taken place for a long time already. The government has responded to decreasing output from older wells, especially onshore, by fostering exploration and production of promising offshore fields. However, many problems

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remain, such as the dilemma of having to involve foreign companies in continental shelf production because of the limited technological and capital capacities of Russian energy firms, while keeping a tight state grip on the strategically important resources. In addition, the unconventional gas revolution in the US creates unfavourable market conditions for Russian gas on an oversupplied global gas market. This has already led to the postponement of the biggest Russian offshore gas project, the Shtokman field, in August 2012.6 Similarly, the petroleum industry is of vital importance to the overall Norwegian economy, providing a fifth of Norway’s GDP and its biggest export commodity.7 While the majority of Norwegian hydrocarbon exploitation is still taking place outside the Arctic, the Barents Sea in particular will play a dominant role in Norway’s future hydrocarbon production. Recent field discoveries as well as the upcoming licensing round highlight the increasing importance of these waters. Oil and gas investments will reach a record high in 2013 at NOK 10 billion. Licensees are planning to spend over NOK 100 billion on drilling of exploration and production wells in 2013, up almost 50% from 2011 drilling costs.8 In 2012, 72 new blocks were offered for exploration in the Barents Sea and 14 in the Norwegian Sea.9 Greenland is a special case when it comes to Arctic oil and gas interests. While no proven oil or gas resources and no accompanying industry exist yet, the importance of these resources to Greenland lies in the potential of future development and realization of profits from licensing and extraction. Revenues from the hydrocarbon sector could provide the financial means needed to reduce the still substantial financial dependence on Denmark, and could thus be a milestone on the way to eventual independence. Licensing and exploration activities started again in the early 2000s. Offshore West Greenland is already covered by 20 exploration and exploi-

tation licenses. The next round 2012/13 will cover offshore northeast Greenland.10 However, to date the Greenland continental margin is still largely unexplored, and the limited oil and gas export infrastructure in combination with difficult offshore development conditions pose significant challenges. Commodity Character and Interdependence In addition to the interest constellations of the main actors, the commodity character11 12 of Arctic oil and gas is an important indicator for its conflict potential. The kind of commodity that is typically assumed to be the most conflictive is the common pool resource type. Ownership of these resources is usually impossible to establish, it is difficult to exclude actors from utilising these resources, and the consumption of these goods by one actor precludes consumption by another. In contrast, private goods are less conflictive, given that ownership is clear and others can be excluded from utilising the good. All Arctic oil and gas resources are rival goods because the consumption of oil and gas resources prevents others from consuming the same resources. The majority13 of Arctic oil and gas resources are also excludable goods, i.e. actors can be excluded from the development and utilisation of most Arctic oil and gas, because most Arctic hydrocarbon resources are located or expected to be discovered either onshore or on the continental shelves of the Arctic littoral states. Art. 77 of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) states explicitly that “[t]he coastal State exercises over the continental shelf sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring it and exploiting its natural resources” and these rights are “exclusive in the sense that if the coastal State does not explore the continental shelf or exploits its natural resources, no one may undertake these activities without the express consent of the coastal State.” From this it follows that the vast majority of discovered and 39

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expected Arctic oil and gas resources are private goods, i.e. their ownership is undisputed and the owners of the goods exhibit private property rights and thus control access to the goods. The environment affected by oil and gas exploitation has a different commodity character. It is a common pool resource because it is difficult to exclude actors from utilising the environment, and consumption, in the sense of potentially polluting a formerly clean environment, prevents other actors from utilising the environment, for example for fishing. And indeed, oil and gas development in the Arctic poses multiple dangers to the landscape and the waters of the North. Especially in the case of offshore activities, accidents such as oil spills could easily have transboundary impacts affecting other issue areas as well, such as fishing. Given the generally pristine landscape, waters, flora and fauna threatened by oil and gas activities and the potential harmful effects on the lives of indigenous people, there is also an international interest in preventing environmental damage in the Arctic. A second important indicator is the interdependence of the relevant actors during the process of oil and gas exploration and exploitation, or the expectation of future interaction of these activities, i.e. how often the actors can be expected to interact again with each other. Oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the Arctic is a highly iterative and interactive process. The technological and financial efforts are so enormous that future projects, which will move into ever more northern and challenging offshore areas, will not be manageable for one company alone. For example, it takes decades to get investment returns, and required infrastructure cannot be used for anything else but oil and gas transport. Also, considerable uncertainty as to the details of future discoveries and developments in the Arctic requires iterative cooperation over a longer period of time. It is not certain where exactly big oil and gas fields are located, and, once they are found, it takes a long 40

time until a field discovery materialises. Mapping, drilling, developing and establishment of appropriate infrastructure and transport options take a considerable amount of time. Also, it is uncertain exactly how much oil and gas is in the region and how long development can last. Containing Risks and Conflict: Institutions for Arctic Development While the US and Canada show little interest in the development of their own Arctic oil and gas resources, and also have little need for other Arctic hydrocarbons, Norway and Greenland focus primarily on their own national hydrocarbon base given their importance for economic and independence ambitions, respectively. This leaves Russia as the most prevalent location of Arctic oil and gas development, which requires the involvement of foreign actors. In other words, if any conflict over Arctic hydrocarbon development were to arise, it would most likely concern business relationships between Russian (state) and foreign companies over access to Russia’s resources and the cost-and-benefit sharing of joint ventures. Importantly, the interests of all actors involved point in the same direction: Russia wants to develop its resource base and sell it to high-price-paying Europeans, while foreign energy companies want a share in this profitable endeavour. What remains is a coordination problem: Cooperation increases the benefit for all parties involved, but the distribution of those benefits and the sharing of the investment costs necessary to reap them is problematic as the players’ preferences diverge on the distribution of costs and benefits. Consequently, foreign energy companies and the Russian (state) firms, usually Gazprom or Rosneft themselves or subsidiaries thereof, have to agree on a certain business or cooperation model. While foreign companies favour equitable cost and benefit sharing in the form of proper involvement in the development and marketing process in exchange for their expertise and

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capital, it appears that the Russian preference for keeping control over selling and exporting developed resources prevails. All of Rosneft’s recently established joint ventures with Exxon, Statoil and Eni to exploit Russian offshore resources show the same pattern: Rosneft keeps 100% control of the licenses and the market-

as a clean marine environment. While the UNCLOS provides binding rules for the protection and preservation of the marine environment (Part XII UNCLOS), it does not sufficiently provide for Arctic-specific rules. Consequently, Arctic states have a certain degree of leeway in terms of environmental protection requirements

Russian oil and gas exploitation is unlikely to provide an incentive for conflict thanks to existing mutual interests. ing and even keeps a majority share of the joint development venture (usually two thirds). Even more, the foreign partners carry most of the initial exploration costs and grant Rosneft access to some of their development projects, as well as providing technology and general know-how. While this reflects the strong position of Russia, the crucial point is that the partners were able to agree on a business cooperation model. However, a number of hazard problems remain. In addition to the generally challenging and demanding legal and political environment for foreign investors in Russia14, foreign companies have agreed to shoulder the substantial initial expenses of exploring the respective fields while the returns on their investments remain unclear. Despite these insufficient arrangements, foreign investors are apparently willing to take the risk. In sum, although a certain conflict potential remains due to the outlined hazard problems, Russian oil and gas exploitation is unlikely to provide an incentive for conflict thanks to existing mutual interests. The picture looks different for environmental consequences of Arctic oil and gas development. The institutions setting up rules for the exploitation of oil and gas resources to minimise the risks of environmental degradation must be very robust, given that they are usually directed against the short-term interests of the affected actors. This is a general problem of the governance of so-called common pool resources such

in special Arctic circumstances. Further, UNCLOS does not have strong dispute-settlement competencies. Also the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC) requires parties to establish necessary measures either nationally or through cooperation in order to prepare for and respond to an oil pollution incident. While providing binding provisions, they leave a substantial amount of leeway to the parties by only calling for minimum standards for national systems of preparedness and response, and they do not provide for strong monitoring rules. Regionally, the Arctic Council’s Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Guidelines provide highly precise but non-binding rules for marine environmental protection. The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) in contrast provides binding and highly precise rules together with strong monitoring and verification competencies. However, the regional scope of the Convention is limited to the Northeast Atlantic, and of the A5 only Denmark and Norway are members. The same limited scope problem applies to the Agreement Between Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden Concerning Cooperation in Measures to Deal with Pollution of the Sea by Oil or Other Harmful Substances. This short outline of relevant institutions for environmental protection in connection to Arctic oil and gas regulation makes clear that 41

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substantial shortcomings prevail, either in the form of insufficiently precise or non-binding provisions or limited geographical and/or membership scope. In conclusion, it is not the exploitation of the resources themselves that contain a high conflict potential but rather their side effects, first and foremost the environmental dangers they entail. Negative Externalities: The Need for Ecosystem-based Management As well as the absence of adequate institutional arrangements for the development of Arctic oil and gas resources, an additional challenge must be included here, which is the linkage between various Arctic economic activities and further, with the broader social and ecological circumstances of the specific region in which they occur. In other words, institutions for the sustainable development of the Arctic have to take account of the complexity of the Arctic region as a system of various dynamic internal and external relationships that change over time. Consequently the new developments in the Arctic today, first and foremost new economic opportunities due to the changing climate, have to be understood and analysed in an inclusive and comprehensive framework, which encompasses all issue areas and actors involved. This is necessary in order to find ways to sustainably exploit the northern region’s common resources and to legitimise this process by including all affected stakeholders.15 Importantly, such institutions would take account of the fact that many potential victims of exploitation-induced pollution do not have their interests adequately represented in the existing institutions, which can be called the negative externalities problem of Arctic development. These are especially residents with no, or only weak, representation options and the flora and fauna of Arctic lands and waters. Even the still limited exploration and exploitation activities can have extensive effects on the marine and 42

coastal environments in the case of an accident, and any such effects would potentially travel across borders and boundaries. Even more, they might be more far-reaching than expected today due to the substantial lack of knowledge of pollution consequences, and might affect more actors than anticipated now. In short, the protection of what is mostly states’ economic and environmental interests as covered in the existing institutions is not sufficient to account for all actors affected by increasing economic activities in the Arctic. The exclusion and disregard of affected actors and of the environment as a factor and valuable in itself can in the mid- to long-term have substantial consequences on the political situation in the Arctic and between players active in the Arctic. Consequently, institutions have to be established that take account of the un- or underrepresented players and their interests and concerns. The appropriate institutional device could be an ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach, which leaves out none of the links in the ecosystem, and which is flexible enough to take into account new knowledge about affected actors and their concerns and interests. Further, EBM institutions create a linkage between issue areas such as hydrocarbon development, shipping and fishing, and they take account of the interactions and trade-offs between different activities within the ecosystem. EBM is generally defined as a form of natural resource management with the aim to understand “the process of managing and understanding the interaction of the biophysical and socioeconomic environments within a self-similar, self-maintaining regional or larger system,”16 and thus a “deliberate management of an entire regional ecosystem with the intention of maintaining ecological sustainability and/or integrity.”17 The central characteristic of an EBM approach is to “focus on the whole ecosystem, defined in local, biophysical, and cultural terms, and on development of an integrative process for planning and

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management.”18 A number of initiatives with a broad ecosystem approach exist already, which could be used as an inspiration for an Arctic ecosystem-based management approach. One example is the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment

from Land-based Activities,19 which addresses the connectivity between terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems. These are the actual challenges ahead, and not the often-stated likelihood of possibly violent conflicts over Arctic resources.


1 The author would like to thank Tom Fries, Malte Humpert and four anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier versions of this work. 2 All references from Borgerson, S.G. (2008): “Arctic Meltdown,” Foreign Affairs 87, no. 2: 63 f. 3 These mostly concern overlapping areas for extended jurisdiction over the Arctic coastal states’ continental shelves. The US and Canada disagree about the boundary between them in the Beaufort Sea, comprising an area approximately 6250 nm² big. Russia, Denmark and Canada all claim that the Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges are natural geological extensions of their territory. Canada and Denmark argue about the possession of Hans Island, some desolate rocks surrounded by resource-rich waters in the Kennedy Channel of the Nares Strait between Canada’s Ellesmere Island and Greenland, which constitutes the only disputed land territory in the circumpolar Arctic. For an overview of these disputes cf. Fuchs et al (2011, 21). 4 For a detailed analysis of the Arctic littoral states’ interests in Arctic oil and gas resources, cf. Keil, K. (forthcoming 2013): “The Arctic: A new region of conflict? The case of oil and gas.” Cooperation and Conflict. 5 Potter, M. “Canada Will Send Oil to Asia Even If Keystone XL Pipeline Proceeds, Harper Says.” (Toronto, April 2, 2012), 6 Macalister, T. (2012, August 31): “Russia Halts Gas Project in Arctic.” Mail & Guardian. Cape Town. 7 Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. (2012): “FACTS - The Norwegian Petroleum Sector 2012” Oslo. 20. 8 Aftenbladet. (2012, September 7): “Oil and Gas Investments Reaches Record High”. Stavanger. aenergy/Oil-and-gas-investments-reaches-record-high-3025747.html. 9 OilVoice. (2012, March 30): “Norway to Focus on Arctic Oil Licensing Rounds” (Milton Keynes). Norway_to_focus_on_Arctic_oil_licensing_rounds/f3f5253519ef.aspx#ixzz1qcJitB00. 10 Cf. map on Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum (2012): “Exclusive Licences February 2012,” Government of Greenland. Nuuk. 11 Ostrom, E, Gardner, R and Walker, J. (1994): Rules, Games, & Common-Pool Resources. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. 6 f. 12 Ostrom, E (2008): “The Challenge of Common-pool Resources.” Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 50(4): 11. 13 Not all of the Arctic Ocean is covered by national jurisdiction but the extent of the exclusive economic zones and the area of possible extended continental shelf rights over the seabed leave only a little area of international seafloor (cf. map in Macnab, R, Loken, O and Anand, A. (2007): “The Law of the Sea and Marine Scientific Research in the Arctic Ocean”. Meridian Newsletter Ottawa: Canadian Polar Commission, 3. Newsletter/MeridianFall2007.pdf.). Oil and gas in this area are common pool resources, i.e. it is difficult to exclude others from utilising these resources. Not much oil and gas is expected in these areas, the distance and depth in this part of the Arctic Ocean makes any development very challenging and expensive, and this area is regulated by Part XI UNCLOS, according to which all resources there belong to the common heritage of mankind. 14 According to the Political Risk Atlas 2011, Russia shows a rising risk potential and is rated among the 10 countries most affected by political risks, which are characterised as ‘extreme risk countries’ Maplecroft. (2011): “Rising Political Risk Sees Russia and Pakistan Join Somalia, DR Congo and Iraq in Maplecroft Ranking of 10 Most Volatile Business Environments”. Bath. topics_en.asp?id=581&pb=3&vr=en&yr=2011&mn=1&day=18&pg=2&cl=1&cmpg=1&cmcl=1&sbpg=1&sbcl=1&srch=0&ms= NaN&clnd=0&mdn=1). 15 Curtin, R and Prellezo, R. (2010): “Understanding Marine Ecosystem Based Management: A Literature Review.” Marine Policy 34(5): 821. 16 Slocombe, D.S. (1998): “Lessons from Experience with Ecosystem-based Management.” Landscape and Urban Planning 40(1-3): 31. 17 Slocombe, D.S. (1998): “Defining Goals and Criteria for Ecosystem-Based Management.” Environmental Management 22(4): 483. 18 Ibid. 19 For information on the Programme cf. and



Arctic Cooperation and Practices in International Relations Opening up for Alternative Theories

Rasmus Sandvoll Weschke

In light of the recent opening of the region, Arctic cooperation can and should be approached through the study of practices. Analysts have long neglected the inarticulate background knowledge that drives what practitioners do when studying international relations (IR). The study of Arctic relations should detach itself from old school theories and abstract assumptions of realism and world politics with its bias towards studying wars and violent conflicts.1 Arctic international relations are more cooperative than represented in mainstream media2,3 and as framed by many analysts.4,5,6 This article rejects pessimistic prophesies about meltdowns or a race for Arctic resources, despite the growing potential and relatively recent attention towards the region. This is neither to say that Photo: Taraji Blue,

the cooperation that takes place between Arctic actors7 usually equals harmony, nor to neglect the potential for conflict between them, even military confrontation. However, this text will deliberately approach the Arctic in a different fashion, with the aim of opening the region even further, but in a theoretical fashion. It will outline the potential of unconventional theories and alternative lenses through which one can view Arctic interstate relations, with an emphasis on cooperation. In short, the argument is that Arctic international relations can be seen as products of an international society, as talked about in the English School of IR,8 driven by institutions, performances, habits and practices. Many students of IR overlook this inarticulate and habitual dynamic that is so fundamental 45

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for relations between states, and people in general. Practices rest on background knowledge, the inarticulate know-how that guides behavior and thus allows structures to both change and reproduce. Practices are part of the unthoughtof order of things.9 What people do is not necessarily consciously reflected upon. Actions are developed as a feel for the game. Practitioners respond to the immediate challenges they face by using this feel for the game and their practical know-how. I will suggest that research collaboration is particularly important in the Arctic and thus has been established as a practice that states and practitioners adhere to and from which they derive meaning for actions. As Vincent Pouliot writes: “It is not only who we are that drives what we do; it is also what we do that determines who we are.”10 Background Focusing on Arctic cooperation is particularly interesting in light of the special geographic characteristics of the region, and the conspicuous transformation it has undergone in recent decades. The current situation of optimism, opportunity and business development, exemplified by the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and explicit interest from the EU and China, stands in stark contrast to Cold War antagonism and hostilities. Furthermore, cooperation also takes place against the backdrop of the shifting climate and melting ice sheet and thus increasing (strategic) importance of the Arctic. The region is changing rapidly, both politically and environmentally, but also culturally and narratively. Since 1975 the Arctic has warmed about twice as fast as the globe as a whole and 40 per cent of the ice-cover that was present in 1970 is now gone.11 In August 2012 the sea ice melted to its smallest point ever.12,13 Several scholars have already remarked on the reach of a tipping point.14 This inevitably has consequences for the region and international relations - there and beyond. Furthermore, 13 46

per cent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 per cent of its undiscovered gas might be waiting under the seabed (USGS 2008).15 New shipping lanes, for example north of Russia, could theoretically cut the distance between Yokohama and Rotterdam by 40 per cent,16 and tourism and agriculture could potentially boom.17 Blunden argues that the geopolitical changes taking place in the Northern Sea Route (NSR) are significant and that historically, vicissitudes in transport routes have been associated with “seismic shifts in the balance of economic and political powers.”18 In short, there are numerous challenges ahead, much is at stake and for some this intuitively posits conflict. However, after the Cold War and in light of the significant environmental change taking place, an Arctic international society,19 one in which states share more in common, has developed. The basic idea of the English school of international relations is that states form a society with certain rules and norms, similar to domestic societies.20 These English school institutions are deeper than those talked about in, for example, regime theory, and comprise primary institutions such as diplomacy, war and sovereignty.21 This text will, however, emphasize the practice approach and the inarticulate aspect of Arctic IR. A scientific approach to the Arctic can be thought of as one type of practice that guides behavior, because actors aspire to adhere to the collective meaning attached to it. And if practices are cooperative, cooperation can evolve. Practices offer a new method and alternative route to understanding international relations in general. They can be either conscious or unconscious and they have the potential to be transformed into habitus. Habitus can be thought of as a stable and collective force of practical understandings and as a system of durable dispositions that combines past experiences with the present.22,23 This is knowledge that is forgotten, unless reflexively recovered.24 The Arctic offers a unique

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testing ground for the dynamics between the reflexive and non-reflexive need to get more attention, because of the rapidly thawing political and climatic conditions, combined with deeprooted historic antagonism between East and West.

Adler and Pouliot28 have tried to gather the debate in an edited volume called International Practices. Here they define international practices as “competent performances” and “socially meaningful patterns of action.”29 “A practice is ‘competent’ in the sense of resonating with existing understandings (background knowledge),

Scholars who want to account for social life needed to replace their armchair analyses of studying only discourse and start looking at what people, for example diplomats, actually do. The Logic of Practice in the Arctic Reversing the causal arrow that goes from ideas to action is at the heart of the practice approach in IR. The turn dates back approximately ten years.25 It was Iver Neumann who in his 2002 article “Returning the practice to the linguistic turn” argued that scholars who want to account for social life understood as a whole needed to replace their armchair analyses of studying only discourse and start looking at what people, for example diplomats, actually do.26 This represents a departure from conventional IR theories in that it emphasizes a different logic of social action than the logic of appropriateness, consequentialism or argumentation.27 Methodological innovations include, for example, trying to deduce actors’ unconscious background knowledge via field studies, in-depth interviews and ethnographic research. Why not explicitly study actions, and how these affect norms and behavior among states, non-state actors and populations in both the Arctic and other regions? The Arctic is a special and rapidly transforming place where IR needs to go below the level of states to understand how interaction between states operates. Practice theory offers an excellent method of doing so, and is supplementary rather than a competitor to conventional paradigms. However, what practices are, and how they can and cannot be applied in the study of international relations, is still debated.

against which it becomes socially meaningful.”30 The easiest way to separate practices conceptually from any action or any behavior is to view practices as patterned actions that are “embedded in particular organized contexts and, as such, are articulated into specific types of action and are socially developed through learning and training.”31 Running in the streets aimlessly is behavior, while running after a thief is an action endowed with meaning.32 Action is specific and located in time; practices are general classes of action, which, although situated in a social context, are not limited to any specific enacting.33 For Schatzki,34 the maintenance of practices over time depends on the continued performance of shared embodied know-how. Because activities (or actions) and bodies are ‘constituted’ within practices, ‘the skilled body’ is where activity and mind as well as individual and society meet.35 It follows that we can only understand actions within their specific practical contexts. Practices enable structures to be stable and evolve, and agents to reproduce and transform them. In short, one can say that practices are socially acknowledged patterns of action resting on intersubjective background knowledge. They can be performed correctly or incorrectly. Insights from field studies, philosophy, and psychology support the view that inarticulate know-how drives what we do.36,37,38 But there is disagreement within the practice approach about how deep this unconscious know-how goes and 47

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how agents exercise agency over the embedded structures they are part of. On one end of the scale is the notion of habit. Habit is performed on an individual scale, as opposed to practices, which are social. Hopf writes that “Social theorists from Weber to Bourdieu have argued that most humans most of the time act in the world habitually, not reflectively.”39 This is contrasted with for example the English school notion of practices as social performances on a macro scale that fuel the institutions that govern state relations. This understanding is closer to norm following, and the logic of appropriateness. For example, Hurd discusses public diplomacy as a social practice and how it relates to justifications of state behavior through international law. In this respect there are many examples from the Arctic International Law of the Sea where this convention serves as a legitimizing and self-evident point of departure. Practices are everything that people do in a contextually typical way, diplomacy being one example.40 Thus, they might be found at all levels, ranging from state behavior to small group settings, depending on what we want to study. In studying NATO-Russia relations, Pouliot theorizes that when practitioners who belong to a security community tackle their disagreements, they: “…think (talk, judge, reason act) from diplomacy instead of about its opportunities.”41 Arctic diplomacy is becoming an increasingly embedded practice, as scientific cooperation, international law and resource management structure relations between states. The enactment of the ‘we-ness’ through practices is one of many potential contributions of a practice approach.42 Research as a practice Following the discussion above, this section will exemplify how one can see science acted out as a deeply social and partly inarticulate practice in the region and how it relates to interstate cooperation. Scientific collaboration can be seen as a macro practice, a competent performance, 48

through which actors derive meaning and get guidance for social behavior. To conduct expeditions to the Arctic and bring back data is now an established part of international (and domestic) affairs in the region. Science as a patterned action that is socially meaningful legitimizes claims and policy suggestions, and drives Arctic politics. The practice of doing research has a long history in the Arctic; the first International Polar Year (IPY) from 1882-3 is one example. The first IPY is regarded as one of the greatest efforts toward communication and international cooperation, with 25 nations cooperating on a global research program. The most recent IPY ran from 2007-2009 and involved more than 50,000 researchers from 60 different nations.43 Another example of how research is a social practice in state relations is the Arctic Council and its emphasis on research collaboration. The Arctic Council is an outgrowth of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS)44 and its contribution has to a large extent been science-based assessments. The assessments have received considerable attention and have become important tools in structuring and framing policy. And since security policy is excluded from the Council’s agenda, the cooperative and trust-building effects of the research are not precluded. Furthermore, all nations are committed to science as a tool in the Arctic as stated in their official Arctic strategy documents.45 Fisheries management in the Barents Sea rests entirely on scientific data before quota negotiations through the joint Norwegian-Russian fisheries commission, established in 1970.46 A practice approach to studying the Joint Fisheries Commission could potentially yield new and innovative explanations of cooperation. Science and research are the driving forces for resource exploitation. Moreover, the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), an NGO, was established in 1990 to encourage and facilitate cooperation in all aspects of Arctic research. Sci-

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ence can, because of its history and its increasing importance in comprehending the changes in the Arctic, be argued to constitute the ‘obvious’ and non-reflexive default approach to the region. Wagner claims that despite the two very different dynamics that drive foreign policy and science respectively, the two systems find that their interests are increasingly overlapping.47 It can be argued that in no other area around the world is the relationship between states as driven by science as in the Arctic. Intensifying scientific cooperation in the Arctic stretches all the way back to the first IPY and was more recently reaffirmed by Gorbatchev’s Murmansk speech in 1987, where he called for international cooperation in the research realm.48 Science can thus be seen as establishing a new practice which is “competent” in the sense of resonating with existing understandings (background knowledge), against which it becomes socially meaningful.49 Research collaboration and common assessments fuel international society via interstate interaction, which has plausibly transformed into the unthought-of order of things. Science fuels the institutional set up of, particularly, international law in the Arctic. What is being done has been translated into what people have become. However, is science really something actors think of or think from? This question touches upon the important theoretical distinction in the practice approach. On the one hand is the Bourdieuan and causal notion of practices which emphasize the socially meaningful and unconscious aspects, closer to the notion of habit, and on the other; the reflective English school notion50, looking at state behavior closer to norm following. They are both useful, but for different purposes. The next section elaborates on this important theoretical distinction. Practices in theoretical dispute On a macro level, practices guide states in ex-

pressing their intentions.51 The case of research is but one example. States are directed by a norm and try to adhere competently to the established and socially meaningful and patterned action. However, Pouliot shows that interstate pacification between NATO and Russia is not only about a we-feeling but also about commonsense diplomacy.52 Such practices can be studied empirically. This challenges the assumptions of the explanatory power of a constructed collective identity in international society by scrutinizing the practical side of identity. To take on this challenge of accounting for actors’ practical and habitual logic, Pouliot develops what he terms a ‘sobjectivist’ methodology to grasp the background knowledge.53 This is an innovative approach in studying IR that applies methods that are not common in IR. Experience-near knowledge is gained via rigorous participatory observation and in-depth interviews and then combined with experience-distance to flesh out the narratives about international life. This combination of objectified and subjective knowledge is an epistemological and ontological requirement in constructivist reasoning.54 He argues that a constructivist methodology needs to be inductive, interpretive, and historical in order to develop not only objectified but also subjective knowledge about social and international life. Studying background knowledge and its influence on practices via a constructivist sobjectivism could be one way of accounting for change - in the Arctic and beyond. The English school as one of many macro approaches to IR, according to Pouliot, fails to “capture the agent-level process that carry the past over into the present and the future. Bourdieu-inspired practice theory palliates this weakness thanks to the concept of habitus.”55 Habitus reproduces structures because it belongs to the realm of non-reflexive doings. However, conscious reflections are possible and likely, and practices do change. This illustrates that the practice approach operates right in the 49

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intersection between structure and agency and is thus well suited to tackle the rapidly changing dynamics that are mixed with old stereotypes in the Arctic. The problem of accounting for change and stability at the same time is also found in other IR theories. In practice these challenges can push such theories into a representational straightjacket.

cal knowledge and towards formal and abstract representation of the world.”59 This is not to say that one should go back to a Medieval scientific culture, but ignoring local knowledge could be detrimental to our ability to account precisely for social processes, especially in a more messy and multipolar world where theories of IR are constantly challenged by micro-level develop-

Ignoring local knowledge could be detrimental to our ability to account precisely for social processes, especially in a more messy and multipolar world. With Pouliot’s approach of getting up from the armchair and conducting more observational studies of IR one can overcome a big theoretical obstacle that hampers the researcher in accounting for local settings. All the different logics of behavior (appropriateness, consequentialism, habit, communication and practice) are, according to Pouliot,56 suffering from the so-called representational bias. They are too focused on what agents think about rather than what they think from. It omits local knowledge and practical logics by favoring abstractions with big implications for how we can account for the world. The representational bias dates back to the enlightenment and scientific revolution and has “epistemological roots (that) run deep into modernity.”57 An illustrative example of how the representational bias emerged and relocated science away from practical and local knowledge is that of mapmaking:58 In the Middle Ages, maps reproduced the knowledge learned in and through practice by accounting for what people subjectively had seen on their way, and indicated places to eat, pray, etc. This was then drawn as symbols on the map. Over centuries this has developed to what maps are today, abstract and graphical representations of reality as a godlike way of seeing things from above. “The entire modern science enterprise can be interpreted as a similar movement away from practi50

ments happening under the ‘state radar.’ Local knowledge probably cannot be captured with an overarching theory from a great distance. Getting access to background knowledge is fraught with difficulty.60 To account for change, for example in the turn from Cold War hostilities to cooperative relations in the Arctic, unconscious practices that slowly develop and the organic life of institutions are important. To account for international society and the relations between states, both the notion of habit and the constraints on agency via the weight of history on practice61 and the logic of appropriate behavior adhering to a socially accepted practice are useful. To develop a better account of agency and how institutions and international society ‘work’ and change, Arctic scholars could gain a lot from engaging more explicitly with the practice turn in IR. The doings of Arctic international relations can reveal hidden information and direct IR research into new interdisciplinary alleys. Conclusion A practice logic can involve different degrees of unconscious behavior, different degrees of agency and can be directed at different levels. Drawing the demarcation between the different notions of practices and meeting the methodological challenges of studying background

Rasmus Sandvoll Weschke

knowledge is not straightforward. However, taking on the challenge could yield fruitful insights if undertaken rigorously. This has been a humble contribution to defend the potential of studying practices in IR and its many entry points. Practices bring attention to the ‘doings’ of IR and their performances. The Arctic is governed by a special set of practices and institutional dynamics, which are closely related to the physical geography of the region. It is vast, consists mostly of ice and water, and few people live there. This is a stark contrast to other regions where conventional IR has been tried out and developed. Arctic climatic characteristics influence the workings of practices, institutions, and of international relations. Scientific practice related to the distinctive and partly unknown geography of the region is unique and is not acted out the same way elsewhere on the planet. Relations between

the states in the Arctic are also different when Arctic topics are on the agenda. Therefore a closer study of what is going on is needed, an approach that is more detached from classic abstract assumptions of motivations. Arctic remoteness fosters science cooperation and coordination. Because of the regional characteristics and potential, pragmatism has a great potential to trump old hostilities via various practices of Arctic IR. Arctic physical characteristics nurture a sober, scientific approach to the region that has contributed to more peace since the Cold War. Science, both as a process and via its discoveries and innovations, is a driver of foreign policy and decisions in the Arctic, largely due to the realities of the natural environment in which politics operate. Science is one of many examples of international cooperation in practice in a region that Gorbachev envisioned as a future ‘pole of peace’ 25 years ago.62



1 I would like to express my gratitude to the Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) where I wrote my MSc dissertation during the summer months of 2012, which this text is based on; and for helpful comments on both texts. 2 Macalister, T. (2012, June 5): “Arctic military rivalry could herald a 21st-century cold war”. The Guardian. . Accessed 15.08.2012. 3 Associated Press (2012): ‘The new cold war: militaries eyeing Arctic resources’. Fox News. , accessed 10.07.2012. 4 Borgerson, S. G. (2008): “Arctic Meltdown: The Economic and Security Implications of Global Warming’. Foreign Affairs (March/April). 5 Antrim, C. L. (2010): ‘The Next Geographical Pivot: The Russian Arctic in the twenty-first century’. Naval College Review 63(3): 15-38. 6 Byers, M. (2009) Who Owns the Arctic? Understanding Sovereignty Disputes in the North. Vancouver/Toronto/Berkeley: Doughlas & McIntyre Publishers Inc. 7 Loosely defined as the members of the Arctic Council bordering to the Arctic Ocean (A5). 8 Where states form a society among them based on, for example, shared institutions. 9 Pouliot, V. (2010): International Security in Practice – the politics of NATO-Russia Diplomacy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10 Ibid. p. 5. 11 Exner-Pirot, A., Huebert R., H. Lajeunesse, J. Gulledge (2012): Climate change & international security: The Arctic as a Bellwether. Arlington, Virginia: Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. 12 Tipping point refers to a feedback loop called the ice-Albedo and refers to the capacity of dark water to absorb heat from the sun as opposed to the snow and ice which reflects the heat waves. This results in ever increasing warming (NASA 2005). Telegraph, The (2012, August 12): “Arctic Ice melts to record low levels”. . Accessed 28.08.2012. Than, K (2012) ‘Arctic Sea Ice hits Record Low – Extreme Weather to Come?’, article for the National Geographic. Online at, accessed 28.12.2012 13 Than, K (2012): “Arctic Sea Ice hits Record Low – Extreme Weather to Come?’” National Geographic. Online , accessed 28.12.2012 14 Berkman, P. A. & Young, O. (2009): “Governance and Environmental Change in the Arctic Ocean” Science, 324(5925): 339-340. 15 USGS (United States Geological Survey) (2008): “90 Billion Barrels of Oil and 1,670 Trillion Cubic Feet of Natural Gas Assessed in the Arctic.” Accessed 15.08.2012 16 Ebinger, C., A., & Zambetakis, E. (2009): “The Geopolitics of Arctic Melt.” International Affairs. 85(6): 1215-1232. p. 1215. 17 Zellen, B. S. (2009): Arctic doom, Arctic boom: the geopolitics of climate change in the Arctic. Santa Barbara: Praeger. 18 Blunden, M. (2012): “Geopolitics and the Northern Sea Route.” International Affair, 88(1): 115-129. p 116. 19 Buzan, B. (2004) From International to World Society? English School Theory and the Social Structure of Globalization, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 20 For example: Linklater, A. (2009): “The English School” in Burchill et al. Theories of International Relations, fourth edition. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. 86-110; Bellamy A. J. (2004) ‘Introduction: International Society and the English School’ in A.J. Bellamy (ed.) International Society and its Critics, Toronto: Oxford University Press. 1-28; Buzan B. (2001): “The English School: An Underexploited Resource in IR.” Review of International Studies. (27)3: 471–488. 21 Buzan, B. (2004) 22 Bourdieu, P. (1977): Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. 23 Thevenot, L (2001): “Pragmatic regimes governing the engagement with the world” in T.R. Schatzki, K.K. Certina and E.V. Savigny, (eds.): The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory. New York: Routledge. 24 E. Adler and V. Pouliot (eds.) (2011): International Practices, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 16. 25 Skumsrud, A. and Neumann, I. B. (2012): “Practices as Models: A Methodology with an illustration concerning Wampum Diplomacy.” Millennium: Journal of International Studies. 40: 457-481. p. 458. 26 Neumann, I. B. (2002): “Returning Practice to the Linguistic Turn: The Case of Diplomacy.” Millennium: Journal of International Studies. 31(3): 627-51. 27 Pouliot. V. (2010). 28 E. Adler and V. Pouliot (eds.) (2011) 29 Ibid. p. 6 30 Duvall, R. D. and Chowdhury, A. (2011): “Practice of theory” in E. Adler and V. Pouliot (eds.) (2011): International Practices, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 335-355. p. 338. 31 E. Adler and V. Pouliot (eds.) (2011): International Practices, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 5 32 Ibid. p. 5. 33 Ibid. p. 5. 52

34 Schatzki, T. R., Certina, K. K. and Savigny, E. V. (2001) “Introduction” in T.R. Schatzki, K.K. Certina and E.V. Savigny, (eds.): The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory. New York: Routledge. 35 Ibid. p. 3. 36 Hopf, T. (2010): “The Logic of Habit.” European Journal of International Relations 16(4): 539-561. 37 Hudson V. M. (2007) Foreign policy analysis: classic and contemporary theory. Plymouth: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 38 Pouliot, V. (2010). 39 Hopf, T. (2010). p. 539 40 Pouliot, V. (2012): “Regional security practices and Russia-Atlantic relations” in T.V. Paul (ed.): International Relations Theory and Regional Transformation. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 218. 41 Pouliot, V. (2010). p. 232. 42 Pouliot, V. (2010): p. 237. 43 IPY (International Polar Year Official Website) (2010): “About IPY.” Accessed 15.08.2012. 44 Bloom, E. T. (1999): “Establishment of the Arctic Council” American Journal of International Law. 93(3): 712-722. p 712. 45 Brosnan, I. G, Leschine, T. M and Miles, E. M. (2011): “Cooperation or Conflict in a Changing Arctic?” Ocean Development and International Law. 42: 173-210. 46 Hønneland, G. (2011) “Kompromiss als Routine – Russisch-norwegische Konfliktlösung in der Barentsee. “ Osteuropa. 2(3): 257-269. 47 Wagner, C. (2002): “The elusive partnership: Science and foreign policy.” Science and Public Policy. 29(6): pp. 409-417. p. 409. 48 Gorbachev, M. (1987, October 1)” “The Speech in Murmansk at the ceremonial meeting on the occasion of the presentation of the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star Medal to the city of Murmansk.” Novosti Press Agency: Moscow. 23-31.from: Accessed 10.08.2012. 49 Duvall and Arjun 2011: 338. 50 Navari C. 2010 ‘The concept of practice in the English School’, European Journal of International Relations, 17(4), pp. 611-630. 51 Ibid. p. 627. 52 Pouliot, V. (2010) 53 Ibid. 54 Ibid. 55 Ibid. p. 246. 56 Pouliot, V, (2008): “The Logic of Practicality: A Theory of Practice of Security Communities.” International Organization. 62(2): 257-288. 57 Pouliot (2008): 260 58 De Certau, M. (1990): L’invention du quotidien. p. 177-9. 59 Pouliot, V. (2008): p. 260. 60 Navari, C (2010): p. 626. 61 Pouliot, V. (2010): p. 246. 62 Gorbachev (1987).



Melting Ice, Empty Lands, and the New Imagery of an ‘Opening’ Arctic

Ragnhild Freng Dale

The ‘opening’ of the Arctic is nothing new: it has been ‘opened’ several times in the past, in scrambles for resources and in spiritual searches. This essay sets out to discuss some of these changes and ‘openings’ from the perspective of indigenous populations living on a continent commonly perceived as vast, open and desolate. Historically, there has been a tendency to either romanticise Arctic residents, or dismiss them as primitive and old fashioned. These are the ideas that create the backdrop for the current influx of financial investment, and I will focus on the Canadian Arctic to untangle some of the interactions that have shaped these ideas. Using the tropes of mapping and navigation, I take a brief historical dive into the conceptual imaginary of Photo: NASA/Kathryn Hansen

administrators and developers that allows a perceived ‘opening’ of the region to take place. We may yet have much to learn from how Northern peoples live with change in an environment where uncertainty and predictability play very different roles than we commonly assume. Mirages of mapping and ‘empty’ regions Before we go on to examine the most recent ‘opening,’ a geographical and historical perspective can be informative. In 1842, the naval officer and geographer Wilkes was on trial for ‘immoral mapping’ in Antarctica, having mapped out land that was only a mirage; a phantom displacement of landscape that occurs in the region through a refraction of light on 55

Melting Ice, Empty Lands, and the New Imagery of an ‘Opening’ Arctic

the horizon.1 Wilkes was aware that this peculiar climatic phenomenon could occur, but nevertheless decided to map it in a ‘good faith’ that would later cost him his career. This “forgotten link between vision and blindness” marks both the burden of discovery and the beginning of new kinds of knowledge.2 Jumping to the other side of the globe, we can say that similar mirages underpin much of the frontier advancement in the Arctic today: mapping and land claims are at the core of how the narrative of retreating ice and extraction of new resources plays out. In order to keep a steady course along the divides between various groups with different interests, economic practices and attachment to the land, the skill of navigating must be honed, and this is best done within the context of the contrasting visions of land that exist in the region. When the first whale traders arrived in the northern regions of the American continent in the late nineteenth century, they considered it a vast, empty landscape which they did not know how to navigate. Yet for the Inuit, it was already ‘a network of lines rather than a continuous surface,’3 stretching across a landscape of land and ice in variable patterns at different times of the year.4 This landscape escaped the explorers who raced to the Arctic and Antarctic poles, mapping empty territory with their own names and logic and drumming up an image that persists in popular imagination to this day. What remains in our minds from explorer accounts such as those of Fridtjof Nansen, Robert Falcon Scott and Helge Ingstad, is that of a desolate Arctic with a few tents and people huddled against a harsh weather system. For them, it was a kind of empty and untouched space, which could be mapped in cooperation with the few people living there. Mapping invokes a perception of control; and this perception made alterations towards a ‘complex and technological landscape’5 possible in the following periods. And despite the Arctic being a place which is now a base for resource extraction industries that employ thou56

sands of people on shifting jobs each year, this notion of ‘emptiness’ still reigns. Attempts to ‘civilize’ Inuits by forcing them to live in settled communities were first made by government in the 1930s, but abandoned due to concern over their deteriorating health.6 In the 1950s and 60s, the Canadian government insisted on continuing to settle the Inuit in camps. Dene, Cree, Naskapi and Innu experienced similar processes on their territory. From the government’s side, this was done so as to administer Inuit and their hunting more easily, and to ‘improve’ their wellbeing and knowledge. The effects, however, were not quite what they intended. The southerners brought not just new ideologies and practices, but also viruses and infectious diseases, which in some places nearly wiped out the small hunting populations. From an Inuit perspective, settlement was a radically different way of life and thought from what they had practiced before. Over just a few decades, the process of converting them from ‘savage’ to ‘civilized’ radically changed a way of life; the houses provided by the government were often inadequate for the climate, health problems abounded, and the distance from the land where they normally went hunting made them dependent on benefits or precarious labour7. The land became more remote, more controlled, and less feasible for supporting a way of life. Writing about a different group, the Crow, Lear makes the point that with both social and economic conditions radically changed, a loss of meaning occurred after they moved onto settlement territory. ‘Nothing happened,’ in the sense that nothing meaningful was seen to occur.8 The same can be said for the Inuit; what colonial administrators perceived as ‘lack’ of permanence was a form of permanence in itself, which once removed, took away a fundamental premise of their lives. To be in movement meant being free, whereas sedentariness was a threat to this freedom and to the ability to predict and read weather patterns and animal movements.

Ragnhild Freng Dale

The trail, in other words, was home – and is still home for many Arctic peoples.9 Changing

climates and conflicting


Another group that significantly changed the practices and life patterns of the Inuit were the traders, particularly the Hudson Bay Company. In what could be termed the first wave of colonisation, they brought items like tea, coffee, and guns, and received fur and other animal products in return. Many groups formed a dependence on the new trade items, as a means to sustain and complement their subsistence economy, rather than as an end in itself.10 This does not mean that they threw away their gear to become like the white explorers. On the contrary incorporated the new materials into their own practices, and discarded those elements that did not improve their efficiency.11 Nevertheless, hunters were gradually made more or less dependent on trapping animals for cash in order to access these new goods. Traders often found that material cultures and technology travelled independently; on Belcher Island for example, “no one can remember a time when there were no guns there, although people can remember Robert Flaherty’s ‘discovery’ of the islands in 1914.”12 The objects travelled before the explorers via routes they did not see on their maps. Not only did tools and technology move in unexpected ways, so did economic patterns. The indigenous groups did not start hunting more when prices were raised. On the contrary, catches went down, causing much despair amongst the white traders until they discovered the trick: the supply and demand theory simply failed to work. The Inuit would only trap a minimal amount to get enough cash for the supplies they needed, then they would stop. The trading companies changed tactic: for several years, prices were kept artificially low to make the Inuit sell more fur to reach the same amount of cash – leading to a near collapse of the animal popula-

tions.13 The refusal or inability shown by Inuit to abide by economic laws is also linked to their seeming absence of ‘leaders,’ and shows that this is a people whose reliance on the land and on each other stretches further back than the recent settler cultures. The social structure of the hunting bands in the Arctic is first and foremost egalitarian; leaders, self-imposition and assertion have largely been ignored. Leadership rotates or shifts according to situation, and consensus is fundamental in any process.14 Naturally, more experience renders more authority, but this is never spoken about; it is simply assumed, and subtle adjustments normally happen without words.15 This is similar to other hunter-gatherer populations such as those in the Congos in Africa, and cannot be disconnected from economic practice or value systems.16,17 Fienup-Riordan emphasises that for the Yu’pik of Nelson Island, “the real power is not in men, but in the continuing relationship between men and the natural world on which they depend”.18 Notions of ownership, stewardship and negotiation of access are foreign to them, as their relation to the land is one of kinship. Individuals in these settings are both fully free and extremely dependent on the group; they can always leave to be alone or join another group, but rely on others to provide mutual support and to create hunting parties. Mobility, flexibility, and local knowledge are not fixed entities that can be quantified scientifically, even if such attempts are made in the construction of protected areas or writings on ‘traditional ecological knowledge.’19 Rather than taking our stereotypes of the igloo-dwelling Inuit for granted, I therefore propose a closer look at how their lives are changing today. Reversing

perspectives and geographical


Having made a brief dip into history to set our compass against a frame of historical development, we are now able to navigate from a differ57

Melting Ice, Empty Lands, and the New Imagery of an ‘Opening’ Arctic

ent perspective. The Inuit have an intimate connection to the land as what provides for them and safeguards their way of life; early in life, they learn how to navigate through pathfinding, observing changes in the environment, ensuring safety, and avoiding unnecessary dangers.20 One Inuit recounts how, as a child, he would see his father rise early in the morning to look at the landscape, smell the air, and be silent.21 It was not until later in life that he understood the reason: his father was sensing and listening to the environment, empirically gaining an understanding about what sort of day it was, whether one for hunting or one for staying home. Several similar stories can be told to demonstrate this connection. How can the Inuits’ way of ‘listening to’ and ‘sensing’ the world provide the stability needed to navigate in an evershifting landscape? What may seem like random patterns of choosing whether or not to go hunting on an ad hoc basis, or setting off into the wilderness without maps, are not examples of madness or lack of structure, but manifestations of a profoundly different idea of what makes up a stable structure. Hunters go on the land when they can, but similar to the Norwegian Mountain Code, they follow a crucial law: to respect the weather, the wind, and the risks that come with changing conditions. Their knowledge is one that is created and built through a being-in-the-world which the ‘secure’ and reliable data of science cannot capture. Cartographic discoveries and mapping by early explorers relied on indigenous people as guides and informants, and mutual collaboration and exchange has formed the core of past Arctic ‘openings.’ Inuit are not ‘natural’ cartographers, as they made no maps themselves in the past, but when presented with a map, they can locate precise positions and features in the landscape.22 It is not, then, that GPS and other ‘modern’ modes of navigation are directly at odds with ‘traditional’ ways, but rather that in climates of the north, GPS and maps cannot fully replace 58

knowledge of the land and ice as a significant premise of secure navigation. This ‘other’ knowledge is rooted in knowing the environment and knowing the ice, the refrain with which everything rests.23 The word for ice, sila, means more than ‘just’ ice. It relates to weather, climate, and environment, and is manifest in each and every person as “an allpervading, life-giving force connecting a person with the rhythms of the universe, and integrating the self with the natural world.”24 In other words, the ice holds together not just the environment, but all forms of interaction in a world already imbued with meaning. With the ice changing, the knowledge that once was ‘secure’ amidst uncertainty, is also in motion: sila is no longer what it used to be.25 Environmental conditions and climate change are changing Arctic life practices in ways both different and similar to colonial interference – if such a separation can even be made. The increase in instances of geographic disorientation in Arctic Alaska makes this apparent.26 While it was a source of shame to get lost a generation ago, it is becoming less so today; partly because it is more common to get lost, and partly because snowmobiles and other equipment break more frequently than dog sleighs, both of which are used interchangeably. Changes in weather patterns, and lack of experience amongst young people who have not spent enough time on the land to truly know the places in which they navigate, are other important factors27. With formal schooling, the younger generation spends more time in settlements and towns, and is therefore less familiar with the environment that their parents and grandparents knew so well. Some mourn the changes, others see new opportunities – but what is beyond question, is that life has undergone significant change in a few generations. Growth, sustenance and right to land The idea of the Arctic as a desolate land, and the icy region as ‘closed’ is first and foremost

Ragnhild Freng Dale

a product of southern imagination – a mirage that underpinned the resettlement and administration of those who lived there before. In this view, the melting ice represents an ‘opening’ of new possibilities of trade routes and resource extraction, economic opportunities and daring endeavours. For northerners, on the other

shaped this struggle in new ways, marked by the 1975 Dene Declaration which demanded they be seen as a nation in its own right, with control of its own resources. In the 80s and 90s, First Nations groups in British Columbia persistently blocked roads in major cities to assert their claims of spatial autonomy.30 More recently, the

Recently, there was an outcry when Google Maps decided to leave the ice out of their maps off the Canadian coast hand, it has always been an open and meaningful space – never static, but dependent on a certain level of stability and predictability in a changing and challenging climate. The melting ice becomes a threat to this existence and world, which has already changed significantly alongside material practices over the last 300 years.28 In the exploration of landscape, ice and resources, some see a potential mine where others see a mountain, or a trail is seen where there appears to be nothing. T h is, Brody claims, is precisely the difference between northerners and southerners, broadly speaking: amongst ‘us’ there is a ‘perceptual radicalism’ in the ideology of growth – the confidence in the future being able to solve whatever problems and overcome whatever damage profit-oriented development may cause. Northerners, on the other hand, are profoundly conservative, as “they seek to meet an unpredictable world with a careful consolidation of powers, beliefs, and customs in which they have trusted for hundreds, even thousands of years.”29 Written 25 years ago, this still rings true if considered in relation to the changes in political engagement in indigenous Canadian populations. Indigenous people increasingly demand self-control and autonomy over land in First Nations areas, and the right to make decisions about resources on land their ancestors used. Political organisation of indigenous groups has

inclusion of indigenous nation groups as Permanent Participants in the Arctic Council, the creation of Nunavut as Inuit territory, and the insistence that Inuit, rather than explorer-invented place names, are used on maps, are steps towards a more ‘moral mapping’ of the region. Recently, there was an outcry when Google Maps decided to leave the ice out of their maps off the Canadian coast, instead showing the seabed underneath; for the Inuit, a major part of the landscape was missing.31 Place names and names of ice reveal knowledge of the landscape not visible on the Federal maps, though steps are taken in several projects to change this today. This mapping, then, becomes a practice in its own right which goes on to produce nodes of knowledge for future action.32 Narratives ������������������ are reformed, personhood reconfigured, and the vast ‘open’ land is claimed by people who have an intimate knowledge of conditions and a deepseated belonging which seems beyond the grasp of economic growth. The stakes are high: it is not just about ‘representations’ or ‘culture’, but about who has the right to move in, extract from, and develop the region – and under what conditions they can do so. Effects of past interventions are felt deeply. In Canada, tail ponds with unknown chemicals from resource extraction have left toxins in the water which are spread through acid rain and animal migration. Cancer rates are going up 59

Melting Ice, Empty Lands, and the New Imagery of an ‘Opening’ Arctic

near extraction sites in Alaska.33 Spills and leaks are not uncommon, and the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill is still “a cautionary tale for Arctic offshore drilling today,” causing significant damage to ecosystems along the Alaskan coast.34 With the advent of potential offshore drilling, the oil companies lack the technology to recover a spill in the Arctic regions, even if they insist this can be developed in future.35 Greenland is selling off permits to Shell, Statoil and other – mostly foreign – companies.36 The Inuit around Nunavut have not yet had oil or gas extraction at their doorstep, but a new iron mine is opening on Baffin Island next year,37 and the promise of gas reserves underground is stirring even more interest. Whether and how these areas ‘open up’ remains to be seen. Perspectives on icebergs What is seen as open or closed, populated or empty, is closely related to who we are and who we consider ourselves to be, the narratives framing our existence, and our lived experience in the world. From explorers and whale hunters, through fur traders and colonial authorities, ‘opening’ and reshaping the Arctic is taking yet another form in the proclaimed ‘adventure’ of oil and gas, economic growth and the pursuit of profit. Social practices and ideologies shape what technological choices are deemed appropriate and what perceptual horizons we see,38


and the clashing worlds of Arctic encounters frame new ‘openings’ against past backgrounds. In bringing this narrative up to our time, we can ask whether the new mineral and oil scramble is a legitimate form of mapping, or if it is a mirage better left off the maps and beyond the horizon. Though few would doubt the reality of the oil, gas and mineral reserves in the Arctic, those who propose to extract it rely on the same colonial framework as the fur traders did in the past: that of stepping on and subverting other people’s practices, whether by forcing or tricking them into the game. The resources are made theoretically accessible by a particular climatic constellation that human activity has played a large part in producing, but the technology to safely extract them has yet to be invented. The potential opportunities come with the risk not only of another blow to southern reputation or face, but a gamble with the local environment of those who depend on the land nearby, and those who will live with the after-effects locally and globally for decades and centuries to come. Against this stand groups of people who destabilise our categories of old or new, modern or traditional, insisting on the right to their way of life and to control the land that is theirs. Even in changing conditions, any opening can and should rest with their idea of ice; as the all-pervasive ontology that binds people and environment together.

1 Yusoff, K. (2008): “Climates of sight: mistaken visibilities, mirages and ‘seeing beyond’ in Antarctica.” In I.B. Tauris (ed.): High Places. London. p. 48-67. 2 Ibid. p. 54. 3 Ingold, T. (2007): Lines: A Brief History. p. 76 4���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� Aporta, C. (2011): Shifting perspectives on shifting ice: documenting and representing Inuit use of the sea ice.” The Canadian Geographer / Le G ́eographe canadien 55(1): 6–19. 5 Triscott, N (2010): “Critical Art and Intervention in the Technologies of the North” in M. Bravo (ed.): Arctic Perspective Cahier No. 2: Arctic Geopolitics & Autonomy. Ostfildem: Hatje Cantz Verlag. 6 Tester, F. (2006): ”Iglu to Iglurjuaq” in P. Stern and L. Stevenson (eds.): Critical Inuit Studies An Anthology of Contem60

Ragnhild Freng Dale porary Arctic Ethnography. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press. 7 Ibidi 8 Lear, J. (2006): Radical hope: ethics in the face of cultural devastation. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. 9 Aporta, C (2004): Routes, Trails and Tracks: Trail Breaking among the Inuit of Igloolik, Études/Inuit/ Studies 28(2): 9-38. 10���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� Fienup-Riordan, A. (2007): Yuungnaqpiallerput/The Way We Genuinely Live: Masterworks of Yup’ik Science and Survival . Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 9-15. 11 Inuit are no strangers to ‘gadgets’, and there are many histories of their fast and successful mastery of new items, both in early trade and in recent times. See Brody (1987): p. 195; also Bravo, M. T. and N. Triscott, (2011): 'Building Autonomy through Experiments in Technology and Skill' in M. Bravo (ed.): Arctic Perspective Cahier No. 2: Arctic Geopolitics & Autonomy. Ostfildem: Hatje Cantz Verlag. 12 Brody, H. (1975): The people’s land: Eskimos and whites in the eastern Arctic. Harmondsworth: Penguin., p. 21. 13 Brody, H. (1987). p. 191-195. 14 Fondahl, G. and Irlbacher­Fox, S (2009): Indigenous Governance in the Arctic A Report for the Arctic Governance Project. Prepared for the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation. p. 8. 15 Brody, H. (1987) 16 Sahlins, M. (2006): “The Original Affluent Society” in J. Solway (ed.): The Politics of Egalitarianism: Theory and Practice. New York: Berghahn Books. 17������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ Lewis, J. (2008) “Ekila: Blood, bodies and egalitarian societies.” In Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (14): 297-315. 18 Fienup-Riordan, A. (1983): The Nelson Island Eskimo: Social Structure and Ritual Distribution. Alaska Pacific University Press. 19 Cruikshank, J. (2005): Do Glaciers Listen?: Local Knowledge, Colonial Encounters, and Social Imagination. Vancouver: UBC Press. 20 MacDonald, J. (1998): The Arctic sky: Inuit astronomy, star lore, and legend. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum. 21 Mauro, I. and Zacharias, K., dirs.. (2010): Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change. Film. 22 Aporta, C. and Bruno, M. (2012): “Cartographic gestures” In R. Tyszczuk (ed.): ATLAS: geography, architecture and change in an interdependent world. London: Black Dog Pub. 23 Hastrup, K. (2012): “The Icy Breath: Modalities of Climate Knowledge in the Arctic.” Current Anthropology 53(2): 229. 24 Nuttall (2009). p. 299. 25 Wenzel, G. (2009.) Canadian Inuit subsistence and ecological instability— if the climate changes, must the Inuit? Polar Research 28(1): 89-99. 26 Sonnenfeld, J. (2002): “Social dimensions of geographic disorientation in Arctic Alaska.” Études/Inuit/Studies 26(2): 157-173. 27 Ibid. p. 162. 28�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� Oozeva, C. and Krupnik, C. (2004): Watching ice and weather our way. Washington, D.C.: Artic Studies Center, Smithsonian Institution. 29 Brody, H. (1987) p. 229-231. 30 Blomley, N. (1996): “‘Shut the Province Down’: First Nations Blockades in British Columbia, 1984-1995” BC Studies 111: 5-35. 31������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ Peplinski, S. and Peplinski, L. (2012) “What’s in a Name?” 2012 Inuit Studies Conference, Washinton DC, 25-27 October 2012. 32 See Bravo, M, and Sörlin. S. (2002): “Narrating the Arctic: a cultural history of Nordic scientific practices.” Canton, MA: Science History Publications/USA. 33 Indigenous Environmental Network (2012): “Risking Ruin: Shell’s dangerous developments in the Tar Sands, Arctic and Nigeria.” 34 Steiner, R. (2012): “Exxon Valdez Oil Spill a Cautionary Tale for Arctic Ocean Drilling” Huffington Post http://www. Accessed 24/10 2012. 35 Smyth, J. (2012): “Shell Confirm that they Cannot Recover 95% of an Arctic Oil Spill, Only Find It.” http://oilprice. com/The-Environment/Oil-Spills/Shell-Confirm-that-they-Cannot-Recover-95-of-an-Arctic-Oil-Spill-Only-Find-it.html. Accessed 24/10 2012. 36 Arctic Economics (2012): “Greenland Maritime Boundary / Oil and Gas Licenses 2012.” http://arcticecon.wordpress. com/2012/09/16/greenland-maritime-boundary-oil-and-gas-licenses-2012-update/. Accessed 8/11 2012. 37 CBC News (2012 September 15): “Multibillion-dollar iron mine approved for Baffin Island.” canada/north/story/2012/09/15/north-baffinland-mine-decision.html. Accessed 8/11 2012. 38 See Dietler and Herbich (1998): “Habitus, techniques, style: An integrated approach to the social understanding of material culture and boundaries” in M. Stark (ed.): The Archaeology of Social Boundaries pp. 232-263. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Press.



Above: Longyearbyen by Polar Night, 2011. Left: The Bike, 2012.

Stuart Thomson Born 1984 in Margate, UK Education from University Centre in Svalbard, University in Greenwich Tvergastein is delighted to showcase the work of self-taught photographer Stuart Thomson, a biologist residing at 78ºN in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. His picture “Svalbard Summer Ship” (2011) is featured as our cover image, and shows ship traffic through the mist on the Adventfjord, under the midnight sun. The first page image “Sea Ice 2012” was taken on board the RV Helmer Hanssen research vessel, and documents the summer sea ice cover at its lowest ever in recorded history. As a nature photographer, Stuart feels driven to “capture the incredible” world around him in his work. Stuart’s passion for light and landscapes drew him to the high Arctic, where, he says, “the light can be so dramatic, and the landscapes are different worlds across the seasons”. The settlement of Longyearbyen has provided him a unique base to document both the powerful beauty of the Arctic environment, and man’s influence upon it. An abandoned, dilapidated bike on the beach, and the city of Longyearbyen ablaze in the polar night, are contemporary images. Man’s historical impact on the Arctic is portrayed in pictures that hearken back to the coal mining heyday – The remains of an aerial tramway used to transport coal stretches out into Adventdalen, and a steam locomotive built in 1909 lies frozen in its tracks at the northernmost settlement of Ny-Ålesund. Stuart’s previous publication credits include WWF-Norge, Canadian Geographic, and Photography Monthly. Review by Sari Cunningham


Night Train, 2012.

The conflict in individuals between a love of nature and need to experience it, versus their desire to protect it, is something which interests me greatly. – Stuart Thomson


Iron Arctic, 2012.

This is the iconic coal train in Ny-Ålesund. Mining was stopped here in the 60’s and the settlement is now primarily a research station. – Stuart Thomson


Åpningen av Arktis – En polfarers ord Intervju med Børge Ousland

Mikael Bergius Børge Ousland (født 1962 i Oslo) er en norsk polfarer som har gjennomført utallige ekspedisjoner i Antarktis og Arktis. Han er kjent for å tøye grensene for det man trodde var mulig. De mest kjente ekspedisjonene inkluderer historiens første soloekspedisjon uten etterforsyninger til Nordpolen i 1994, og den første soloturen over Antarktis i 1996/97. I 2010 ble han og tre andre de første til å seile rundt den nordlige halvkule i en og samme sesong, noe som var mulig på grunn av den fysiske åpningen av Arktis som 66

følge av et varmere klima. Ousland har med andre ord erfart de upolerte polarområdene som få andre. Selv sier han at menneskene må innordne seg etter naturen i Arktis. Men den rollen som spilles av oss mennesker i arktiske strøk er iferd med å endres, og vårt fotavtrykk vokser seg stadig større. Hva er ditt forhold til naturen? Mitt utgangspunkt er at menneskene og na-

turen er uløselig knyttet til hverandre. Slik jeg ser det så er ikke den utviklingen som foregår nå bærekraftig. Jeg mener at vi må se etter andre løsninger, og nye måter å gjøre ting på enn det som vi gjør per idag.

i Arktis der er det ikke sånn. Man kan jo selvfølgelig komme inn med store maskiner og slikt, men som et enslig menneske der så føler man seg veldig liten, litt sånn på nåde. Det er igrunn en veldig god følelse fordi det er ikke så mange

Som et enslig menneske der så føler man seg veldig liten, litt sånn på nåde. Du kom såvidt inn på begrepet bærekraftighet, hva legger du i det begrepet? Det innebærer en balanse mellom hva du kan forbruke av jordens ressurser for at det skal vare inn i fremtiden, og at disse skal kunne gjenskape seg selv. Det har jo vært et begrep i politikken i mange år, men det ser ikke ut til at det er mulig å gjennomføre en slik politikk fordi mennesket er grunnleggende egoistisk. Vi strever hele tiden mot noe som gir mer økonomisk avkastning. Og jeg tror kanskje at litt av grunnen til det er at vi lever for kort, vi skal realisere alle ting på så kort tid som mulig. Derfor evner vi ikke å ta vare på verden inn i fremtiden. Det store paradokset i forbindelse med klimaendringene er er at i etterpåklokskapens lys en gang i fremtiden, så tror jeg at vi kommer til å fremstå som patetiske, i og med at vi visste hva som skjedde, men ikke gjorde noe. Det er det store paradokset. Hva betyr Arktis for deg? Arktis er hovedsaklig den vakreste og mest urørte natur vi har. Det var mitt utgangspunkt fra starten av. Jeg synes det var et så utrolig fascinerende sted å reise til og bevege seg i, fordi vi mennesker blir satt helt ut på sidelinjen der, fordi naturen er så mektig og man må på en måte innordne seg. Det er motstykket til den verden man vanligvis lever i, hvor det er mennesker som har satt seg som mål å kontrollere naturen, og har i stor grad lykkes med det, men Photo:

andre steder man kan få den følelsen. Kanskje ute på de store hav eller alene på en fjelltopp, men det er likevel ekstra spesielt i Arktis, med den bitende kulden og de endeløse viddene hvor det ikke bor folk i det hele tatt. Hvilke endringer i Arktis har du selv sett? Det mest synlige går på dette med at drivisen har blitt tynnere og at arealet er kraftig redusert. Det har jeg sett på de ulike skiekspedisjonene jeg har vært på i området, men også på den seilturen da vi seilte rundt Nordpolen gjennom både Nordøst- og Nordvest passasjen og gjorde noe på fire måneder som ville tatt 6 år for 100 år siden. En slik tur var faktisk umulig for bare noen få år siden rett og slett. I 2005 ble båtene stoppet av isen og ble fryst inne og måtte overvintre. Og hva med dyrelivet i området? Når det gjelder dyrelivet så har ikke jeg sett noen helt konkrete endringer, da må man heller lene seg mer til de forskerne som jobber med problematikken. Men på et generelt grunnlag så kan jeg fortelle om da vi traff på noen isbjørner helt på enden av en av de sydligste øyene som var ekstremt aggressive fordi de var fanget på denne øya, uten noen is å gå på. Dette var en binne med to unger og de måtte prøve å livnære seg på å spise fugler og tang og slikt. Det i seg selv er ikke så rart fordi det har isbjørnen gjort i alle år, men den aggressiviteten vi så symboliserer sår67

Åpningen av Arktis – En polfarers ord

barheten for isbjørnen når de plutselig ikke har is å gå på lenger, da vil den ikke kunne overleve på sikt. Det vil alltid være isbjørn der det er is, men i en god del områder i Arktis er isbjørnen truet fordi isen forsvinner. For deg som har vært på utallige ekspedisjoner i området, hvordan opplever du disse endringene? Jeg blir veldig oppgitt over at folk fremdeles diskuterer om klimaendringene skjer eller ikke. H�������������������������������������������� vis man finner ut at det sikkert er menneskeskapt så er tendensen at dette er noe som ikke angår deg eller meg fordi det er noe som vil skje i fremtiden. Det er et problem som ikke er «synlig nok» til at man føler at man må ta tak i det. Det er sånn mennesket er bygd opp, hvis ikke det er en umiddelbar katastrofe så er det en sånn «vente og se» holdning som råder. Det som er spesielt med Arktis er at temperaturen der stiger dobbelt så raskt som det globale gjennomsnittet. Det skyldes hovedsaklig at drivisen reflekterer mesteparten av energien tilbake til rommet, og når den blir erstattet med åpent hav så absorberer havet mellom 80 og 90% av energien slik at havtemperaturen stiger. Og det vil på sikt føre til at også de store breene i Arktis smelter raskere enn tidligere. På Grønland har det virkelig skutt fart når det gjelder bresmelting nå de siste årene. Prognosen er en havnivåstigning på kanskje en meter i dette århundre, og 3-4 meter i løpet av en 2-300 år, og det er ganske mye. Jeg må si at jeg ikke er veldig positiv for fremtiden. Det er klart, ingenting blir vel så ille som de verste skeptikerne tror, og det blir heller ikke så bra som de største optimistene tror, det blir kanskje et eller annet midt imellom. Men det er klart at klimaendringene er nok den største globale utfordringen vi står ovenfor idag. Det har potensiale i seg til å overgå både første og andre verdenskrig når du tenker på antall menneskeliv som vil gå tapt. Ihvertfall hvis du ser på hvor mange mennesker som bor i lavereliggende 68

kyststrøk rundt omkring i verden. Hva med menneskene i Arktis, hva tenker de om dette? Jeg traff en Inuitt i Point Barrow, han fortalte meg at før så kom vinteren i slutten av august eller begynnelsen av september, mens nå blir det ikke noe vinterstemning før langt ute i oktober og kanskje til og med november. Så de merker endringene veldig mye på det som vi her nede egentlig ikke kjenner så mye på kroppen ennå. Det som er spesielt med Norge, det er at vi kan ha en kald og flott vinter her, mens det globale temperaturbildet entydig har en stigende tendens. Så man blir nødt til å se på problematikken i et globalt perspektiv. Politikerne ønsker jo i stor grad å finne måter å kombinere ulike typer økonomisk virksomhet med beskyttelse av miljøet. Hva tenker du om dette, er det mulig å forene de ulike interessene? Det er et veldig vanskelig spørsmål å svare på. En av de tingene som er positivt med at isen forsvinner er at det blir en kortere transportrute til en del av de asiatiske landene, blant annet Kina. Da vil jo Norge være i en god posisjon, og spesielt de nordlige havnene som for eksempel Kirkenes. Så vil det også ha betydning for utviklingen av Sibir og områdene rundt der. Samtidig så er da paradokset at det som har ført til at isen smelter raskere gjør at man da kan begynne å utvinne olje i alle disse områdene. Jeg tror at oljen holder seg best i bakken, og at man ikke trenger å ta opp alt på en gang bare for å ha videre vekst. Verden vil jo trenge olje en god stund fremover, men kanskje man ikke skulle utvikle de mest sårbare områdene. Hva ser du på som de største utfordringene for fremtiden med tanke på alle disse ulike interessene som eksisterer?

Mikael Bergius

Vel, når det gjelder klimaendringer så er det bare to løsninger på det, og de henger sammen. Det ene er politisk vilje og det andre er teknologisk utvikling. Det skjer ��������������������������� heldigvis mye på den fronten, men litt av problemet her er at politikerne ikke ønsker å gjøre tiltak som er upopulære fordi da blir de ikke gjenvalgt. Så de er jo avhengig av en støtte i befolkningen for å kunne gjennomføre tiltakene som trengs. Derfor gjør de det ikke heller, fordi upopulære tiltak kanskje gjør at de mister stemmer. Det viktigste for folk til syvende og sist er jo ikke klimaet, men at de har en trygg oppvekst for barna sine, en jobb og mat på bordet. Det er en vanskelig balansegang dette her, men man velger jo politikere fordi at de skal ta valg på våre vegne, og skal ha den gode store oversikten som vi vanlige folk ikke har. Så det er et stort ansvar å være politiker og jeg syns ikke alle er sitt ansvar bevisst. For det er mye som kan gjøres for å bygge opp under ny teknologi. Hvis man brukte like mye penger på forskning og til nye typer energikilder for å begrense utslipp av CO2 og andre klimagasser som man brukte på oljeindustrien så tror jeg det problemet ville være løst på kort tid. Det er det som er paradokset, at vi har kompetanse, kloke hoder og ressurser nok til å løse problemet, men det gjøres ikke fordi

det er så mange motstridende interesser. Hvis du var politiker, og skulle være med å forme politikken for de Arktiske områdene, hvordan ville du gått frem? Jeg ville ikke vært en vanlig politiker, det er for mange begrensninger og kompromisser, rent klimapolitisk ville det ikke vært dumt å være diktator. Da ville jeg brukt vesentlig mye mer penger på forskning og utvikling av alternativ energi og ulike rene energityper. Jeg ville brukt den unike ingeniørkompetansen vi har her i landet for å gjøre Norge til et foregangsland når det gjaldt teknologisk utvikling på det området, og jeg ville dreid ressursbruken fra oljerelatert virksomhet over til nye energikilder som ikke forurenser. Når det gjelder Arktis, så har Norge heldigvis fått estimert sine grenser i Arktis. Mye takket være Jonas Gahr Støre har ikke vi noen store konflikter i Arktis. Så det er jo det å være en stor pådriver i Arktisk råd for en moderat linje når det gjelder utviklingen av disse områdene. Men jeg ville helt klart ha brukt mye penger på forskning i Arktis, og også formidling av hva som skjer i Arktis fra et klimaperspektiv.



Svart gull i hvitt Arktis

David Pettersen Eidsvoll

Industrilandene har de siste 150 årene hatt en formidabel vekst i levestandard og forbruk. Dette kommer i stor grad av en tilsynelatende ubegrenset og lett tilgang på billig olje. Det store energibehovet i verden gjør at den lett tilgjengelige oljen pumpes raskt ut av bakken. Fra 2010 til 2035 er det forventet at det globale energiforbruket vil ha i overkant av 1/3 økning.1 Ettersom oljen fra de lett tilgjengelige oljefeltene minker, penses letingen etter nye felt over til mer værharde og sensitive områder. I 2008 kjøpte Shell 275 blokker i havområdene utenfor Alaska for 2,2 milliarder dollar og planla å starte boringene i 2010. Like før boringene skulle igangsettes, eksploderte Deepwater Horizon i Mexicogulfen og Obama satte foten midlertidig ned for boring i de sårbare områdene i nord. De aktuelle områdene Shell ønsker bore i er kjent for ekstremvær, stormer, havis, temperaturer langt under frysepunktet og langvarig mørke. Er oljebransjen klar for å gå inn i de sårbare arktiske farvannene?

Illustrasjon: Tine Waag Fjeldstad




Forsikringsspesialistene Lloyd’s2 anslår at det vil investeres 100 milliarder dollar, tilsvarende 580 milliarder kroner, i arktiske farvann i løpet av de neste ti årene. Brorparten av investeringene vil være i Barentshavet og nordre del av Alaska. I den norske regjeringens nordområdesatsing har det lenge blitt arbeidet med planer om å utvikle de norsk-russiske grenseområdene fra å være stengsel for økonomisk aktivitet til å bli samarbeidsområder. I nasjonal transportplan for 2010-20193 melder samferdselsdepartementet at planene om et norsk-russisk økonomisk og industrielt samarbeidsområde i nord må ses i sammenheng med den fremtidige utbyggingen av petroleumsfeltene i Barentshavet. Det er forventet omfattende utbygginger på russiske felt i kommende tiår og det vil kunne bli aktuelt med utnytting av eventuelle petroleumsressurser i det som i dag er omstridt område. I tillegg skaper klimaendringene med den påfølgende smelting av havisen en ny situasjon, med mulighet for nye transportårer i nord mellom Atlanterhavet 71

Svart gull i hvitt Arktis

og Stillehavet over Polhavet. Giften i det svarte gullet I 2011 skrev jeg ferdig en masteroppgave som en del av samarbeidsprosjektet TOXPROF.4 Studiet simulerte et oljeutslipp for å produsere kunnskap om de oljetypene som oftest transporteres langs kysten av EU, fra Spania til Norge. Dataene fra prosjektet benyttes i forvaltningen av disse områdene blant annet til risikovurdering i tilfelle ulykker og oljesøl, men i studier av oljeutslipp i havet viser det seg at ingen utslipp er like. De varierer i størrelse og i utslippenes korttids- og langtidsvirkninger og enhver vurdering av toksisitet etter et oljeutslipp kan være en komplisert analyse.5,6 Noe av grunnen til dette skyldes at komponentene i oljen samhandler i hvordan de påvirker biologiske systemer og organismer. Videre, ved et oljeutslipp i sjøen, vil oljen bli utsatt for flere forskjellige forvitringsprosesser, der de viktigste er fordampning, degradering av solinnstråling, oljedråpedannelser (emulgering) og spredning av oljen i vannsøylen. Alle forvitringsprosessene skjer samtidig, men i hvilken grad disse prosessene påvirker oljen, avhenger av oljens kjemiske og fysiske egenskaper sammen med de rådende værforholdene som temperatur og sjøgang. Samlet sett gjør dette en vurdering av de potensielle skadene ved et oljeutslipp vanskelige å forutsi. Råolje som utvinnes og transporteres er ubehandlet olje som finnes dypt under jordens overflate. Den kan variere i farge fra klar og gjennomsiktig til svart og kan finnes i flytende eller fast form. Råoljen pumpes opp og lagres på fat for fremtidig raffinering. Vanligvis består råoljer av hydrokarbonforbindelser der de viktigste er de alifatiske, aromatiske og polysykliske aromatiske hydrokarbonene (PAH). PAHer er lipofile, som betyr at de blander seg lettere med olje enn vann og de større forbindelsene er mindre vannløselige og er mindre tilbøyelige til å fordampe. På grunn av disse egenskapene, er PAH i miljøet hovedsakelig å finne i jord, sediment og i vev til 72

organismer, i motsetning til i vann eller luft.7,8 På denne måten kan et oljeutslipp påvirke organismer i lang tid etter det faktiske utslippet. Noen ulykker har fått betydelig oppmerksomhet fra medier og forskere, blant annet da oljetankeren Exxon Valdez gikk på et skjær i Prince Williams-sundet i Alaska i 1989 og senest Deepwater Horizon i Mexicogulfen våren 2010. Slike ulykker og oljeutslipp har i første rekke fått oppmerksomhet på grunn av de åpenbare akutte miljømessige konsekvensene, som oljetilslølte kystlinjer med påfølgende utslettelse av det lokale dyrelivet og økonomiske konsekvenser, men også på grunn av de varierende og mindre synlige langtidsvirkningene. Da Exxon Valdez-ulykken hendte, var den ansett som en av verdens mest katastrofale menneskeskapte miljøødeleggende oljeutslipp. Dette til tross for den relativt beskjedne mengde olje som lakk ut (mellom 260,000 – 750,000 fat olje). Exxon Valdez-utslippet kommer langt ned på listen over de største utslippene (oljebrannene i Kuwait i 1991 er på topp med et utslipp på over 1 mrd fat olje), men siden selve ulykken skjedde i et svært avsidesliggende sund som bare kunne nåes med helikopter, fly eller båt, ble den umiddelbare oppryddingsresponsen kraftig begrenset. Selv i dag, 23 år etter ulykken, kan man finne tykke lag av oljen som ikke er nedbrutt ved å grave noen cm ned i sanden. Ironisk nok er det de samme egenskapene som har bidratt til å holde arktiske strøk og vann nærmest uberørt - ekstrem kulde, enorme avstander, hardt vær og havis store deler av året - som vil gjøre effektiv oppryddingen av oljesøl vanskelig, om ikke umulig. Olje som blir fanget under eller i isen kan ikke rengjøres før isen smelter. Is, tåke, ekstreme kuldegrader og hardt vær kompliserer arbeidet for mannskap og oljevernressurser blant annet da is kan drive inn i oljelensene og gjøre de dysfunksjonelle. Mange steder kan det være umulig å nå ut til utslippsområdet da det kan ta måneder før været klarner, eller det viser seg umulig for skip til å manøvrere i isen. Et

David Eidsvoll

oljeutslipp kan fullstendig ødelegge livsgrunnlaget for urfolk som er avhengige av livet i havet for sitt livsopphold. Det relativt lille oljeutslippet som kom fra containerskipet Godafoss som gikk på grunn utenfor Hvaler i februar i fjor fikk Kystverket, SINTEF og Det Norske Veritas til å innse at norsk oljevernutstyr ikke er beredt for å takle store utslipp i kraftig kulde og i is (TU, 2012). En annen type gift Deepwater Horizon-ulykken i mexicogulfen var en kraftig påminner til industrien og myndighetene at de ikke kan la høy kompetanse på utvinning av olje bli en hvilepute. De negative effektene fra oljeutslipp er godt dokumentert og det er påvist hvordan de påvirker biologiske systemer og organismer9,10,11,12 (blant annet Eidsvoll, 2011; Houck, 2010; Holth et al., 2010; Hylland, 2006; Wang et. al., 1999). For en

sikker utvinning av olje i Arktis står industrien konfrontert med formidable utfordringer. I et intervju med Teknisk Ukeblad 1. januar 201213 uttaler direktør Knut Ørbeck-Nilsen i DNV at det er et misforhold mellom teknologiutvikling på oljeproduksjon og oljevernutstyr, at det trengs et teknologisprang på oljevernutstyr og at en kanskje trenger å ta ett skritt tilbake og tenke i nye baner. På den andre siden står oljeselskaper som Shell og gir inntrykk av selvsikkerhet ved å si de er klare til å takle utfordringene i nord (TU: 2012). Slike uttalelser fra oljeindustrien faller på sin egen urimelighet når man tar i betraktning de store problemene oljeberedskapen ble konfrontert med da lasteskipet Godafoss forliste utenfor Hvaler i 2011. Dette er to timer fra Oslo. Hva med et utslipp i Arktis, langt fra oljeberedskapssystemer, kjent for ekstremvær, stormer, isfjell, temperaturer langt under frysepunktet og langvarig mørke?


U.S. Energy Information Administration (2011): ”International energy outlook.” 2011 Lloyd’s (2012): ”Arctic opening: Opportunity and risk in the High North.” News%20and%20Insight/360%20Risk%20Insight/Arctic_Risk_Report_20120412.pdf 3 St.mld 16 (2008-2009): ”Nasjonal transportplan, kap 8.4.4.” 4 Eidsvoll, D. (2011): ”Effekter av in vivo eksponering for vannløselig fraksjon av to råoljer og diesel på juvenil torsk (Gadus morhua).” 5 Eggen, R. I. L., Behra R., Burkhardt-Holm P., Escher B. I. (2004): “Challenges in ecotoxicology.” Environmental Science & Technology. 6 SINTEF (2010): “Chemical and toxicological characterization of water accommodated fraction (WAF) of crude oils.” Materials and Chemistry box 4760 Sluppen, NO-7465 Trondheim, Norway: Marin%20miljøteknologi/faktaark/WAF-web.pdf 7 Thorsen, W. A., W. G. Cope og D. Shea (2004): “Bioavailability of PAHs: Effects of Soot Carbon and PAH Source.” Environmental Science & Technology 38(7): 2029-2037. 8 Neff, J.M. (2002): “Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the ocean.” In: J.M. Neff (ed.): Bioaccumulation in Marine Organisms. Elsevier, Amsterdam, s. 241–318. 9 Houck, O. A. (2010): “Worst case and the Deepwater Horizon blowout: There ought to be a law.” Tulane Environmental Law Journal. 10 Holth, Tor Fredrik; Thorsen, Anders; Olsvik, Pål & Hylland, Ketil (2010): “Long-term exposure of Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) to produced water components: growth, reproduction and gene expression.” Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. ISSN 0706-652X. 67, s 1685- 1698 11 Hylland, K. (2006): “Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) ecotoxicology in marine ecosystems.” J. Toxicol. Environ. Hlth. Part A, 69:109-123. 12 Wang, Z., Fingas, M., Page, D. S. (1999): “Oil spill identification.” Journal of chromatography 13 Teknisk Ukeblad (2012): “Shell satser I Arktis”,17 april 2012: 1 2


Nordområdepolitikken: A license to drill?

Berit Kristoffersen og Leif Christian Jensen

Klimaendringene, økt tilgang til naturressurser og økende menneskelig aktivitet tegner nå nordområdene som en region av betydelig geopolitisk interesse – et nytt geopolitisk sentrum. Det er regjeringens overordnede mål å å utnytte de muligheter som dette gir, og samtidig forvalte miljø og ressurser på en bærekraftig måte og opprettholde nordområdene som en fredelig og stabil region.1

Nordområdene har etter årtusenskiftet fått en politisk aktualitet i Norge som vi ikke har sett siden den kalde krigen. I desember 2003 gjenåpnet regjeringen Barentshavet sør – med unntak av noen få «sårbare områder» –, i første omgang for leteboring2. Dette kan forstås som en grensesettende begivenhet, fordi den gjorde at kampen om å definere virkeligheten i nord for alvor ble vekket til live etter flere års dvale. Foto: Berit Kristoffersen

Åpningssitatet i artikkelen er hentet fra den foreløpig siste stortingsmeldingen om nordområdene, kalt Visjoner og virkemidler, som kom i november 2011. Denne føyer seg inn i en lang rekke vurderinger av muligheter og utfordringer i nord som bærer regjeringens stempel. Utdraget oppsummerer på mange måter hvorfor norske regjeringer siden 2005 har betraktet nordområdene som det viktigste strategiske satsingsområdet for Norge. Det beskriver også hvordan bestemte bilder tegnes opp av et Arktis i endring som både et fysisk og et politisk rom, og hvilke valg Norge som nasjon skal ta som en «konsekvens» av disse endringene. I denne artikkelen vil vi peke på noen sentrale utviklingstrekk i forholdet mellom de tre viktigste drivkreftene i Norges nordområdepolitikk: Russland, klima og petroleumsressurser. Vi vil med dette rette et kritisk søkelys mot det norske selvbildet i nor75

Nordområdepolitikken: A license to drill?

dområdene. Hvordan det er blitt mulig å argumentere for at norsk miljø- og klimapolitikk nærmest er sammenfallende med geopolitiske og økonomiske interesser? Russland – vårt speil i nord Utover 1990-tallet bidro utviklingen i NordvestRussland til å forme norsk nordområdepolitikk og – som vi skal se – vårt syn på Russland og oss selv. Daværende utenriksminister Thorvald Stoltenberg lanserte folk-til-folk-initiativet som la til rette for at nordmenn og russere kunne treffes og lære av hverandre på begynnelsen av 1990-tallet, da trusler om væpnet aggresjon fra øst ikke lenger stod øverst på den politiske dagsordenen. Samtidig ble Russland i økende grad ansett som en miljøtrussel, på grunn av forekomstene av atomavfall og forurensende industri like ved norskegrensa. Ikke minst ga norske medier oss forestillinger om utrangerte atomubåter som lå ved kaia i Murmansk som «tikkende bomber», «et radioaktivt strålehelvete», «svarte trestumper» og «dødsskyer». Oppfatningene av «den radioaktive» Kolahalvøya, med dens «månelandskap» eller «svarte ørkener», ble etter hvert vanlige i den norske offentligheten. De ble representert og reflektert bredt i en rekke norske medier.3 Poenget her er at slike oppfatninger har dannet grunnlaget for den norske offentlighetens stereotype og endimensjonale bilde av Russland som «miljøsinke». Dette har vært og er fortsatt et viktig premiss i den norske debatten om petroleumsutvinning i Barentshavet. Før Russland, for miljøet I forlengelsen av den økte oppmerksomheten omkring miljøproblemer globalt, og bilateralt vis-à-vis Russland, har det i løpet av det siste tiåret trått fram en overraskende, enhetlig, nærmest uproblematisert forestilling og enighet om at vi (Norge) må «bore for miljøets skyld». Plottet kan sammenfattes på følgende måte: «Russerne er allerede i gang i Barentshavet. De har en tvilsom innstilling til miljøet. Vi (Norge) 76

må hjelpe dem med å sette riktige miljøstandarder i Barentshavet». Det er viktig å påpeke at det når det gjelder denne artikkelens formål, ikke er interessant hvorvidt russerne faktisk har en slett tilnærming til miljøvern eller ikke, men at dette er en representasjon av virkeligheten som i høy grad synes å være tatt for gitt i den norske offentligheten. Fylkesordføreren i Finnmark mener Norge ikke lenger kan sitte med hendene i fanget i nord, mens russerne gjør klart for en storstilt petroleumsvirksomhet i det samme området. Dersom Norge blir ytterligere forsinket i vår leteaktivitet, vil det blant annet medføre at vi i liten grad vil være i stand til å sette standardene for miljø og sikkerhet for virksomheten utenfor Lofoten og Barentshavet. 4

Det vi finner interessant med dette sitatet og med «boring for miljø»-argumentasjonen mer generelt, er at den på mange måter framstår som et miljøargument – altså et verneargument, men med motsatt fortegn. Logikken er ganske enkelt at vi ikke burde avstå fra petroleumsutvinning i Barentshavet for å skåne miljøet, men tvert imot komme raskt i gang for å hjelpe russerne med å bedrive miljøvennlig aktivitet. Noen måneder etter at grenseforholdet mellom Norge og Russland i Barentshavet var avklart, talte statsminister Jens Stoltenberg ved åpningen av FRAM – Nordområdesenter for klima og miljøforskning (Framsenteret) i september 2010, hvor han blant annet trakk på et slikt resonnement: [U]avhengig av hva Norge bestemmer seg for å gjøre eller ikke gjøre på vår side av delelinjen så må dere alle være klar over at vi må være forberedt på at russerne kommer til å starte letevirksomhet på sin side av delelinjen. Og det har betydning for Norge, fordi det åpner for muligheter til leveranser, til deltagelse som på Sjtokmanfeltet. Det åpner både muligheter og så farer i forhold til miljø, forurensingsproblemer, så at russerne kan sette i gang, utvikle olje- og gassvirksomhet

Berit Kristoffersen og Leif Christian Jensen nærmere Norge, på sin side av delelinjen, det vil ha betydning for oss, uansett hva vi gjør på vår side. Det må vi ha med oss, når vi utvikler Nordområdesatsingen videre. (sic)5

Påstanden om at vi må komme i gang med boring for å hjelpe miljøet, er i seg selv oppsiktsvekkende, og ikke umiddelbart forståelig med mindre man trekker på andre, allerede etablerte oppfatninger i norsk offentlighet om Russland og landets forhold til miljø. Å bruke miljøhensyn som argument for at det er viktig at vi kommer raskest mulig i gang med petroleumsutvinning i Barentshavet, er altså blitt mulig – og forståelig – fordi det eksisterer en relativt bred, generell og uproblematisert oppfatning av Russland som en miljøsinke. Her dreier det seg altså om framveksten av en diskurs som beskriver identiteter og kollektive forståelser hvor russerne og miljøvern i nord er en kombinasjon som ikke er til å stole på. Et resonnement for norsk petroleumsutvinning i Barentshavet har beveget seg inn i kjernen av et av miljøbevegelsens nøkkelpremiss, og utfordret dets gyldighet ved så å si og sette resonnementet på hodet. Med en «boring for miljø»-logikk er det nærliggende å anse norsk petroleumsaktivitet i nord som en vinn-vinnsituasjon – et «ja takk, begge deler»: Ved å starte petroleumsutvinning i Barentshavet hjelper vi både russerne og miljøet, i tillegg til å tjene gode penger. Miljøargumentene hadde altså fått fotfeste og resonans som begrunnelse for at Norge så raskt som mulig burde komme i gang i Barentshavet. Denne diskursen har nærmest spilt miljøbevegelsens argumenter, derav motdiskursen, av banen ved å overta miljøresonnementet, slik at det etter hvert er blitt et sentralt argument for boring. «Boring for miljø»-diskursen inneholder med dette noe som minner om et snedig og kraftfullt retorisk grep som marginaliserer motstanderdiskursen, det vil si argumenter om å la oljen i nord ligge. Diskursen har rett og slett «kuppet» eller «overtatt» miljøargumentet – selve bærebjelken i vernediskursen – og pre-

sentert det som god miljøpolitikk å bore i Barentshavet. Et tøft klima I boka Nordområdepolitikken sett fra nord beskriver Angell et al. (2010) det oppsiktsvekkende i at daværende utenriksminister Jonas Gahr Støre, i en tale ved Universitetet i Tromsø i april 2010, ikke nevnte med et eneste ord hvordan Norge og nordområdesatsingen skal bidra til å redusere de globale klimagassutslippene. Tilnærmingen er reaktiv, snarere enn proaktiv, og baserer seg på hvordan nord skal tilpasse seg den nye klimasituasjonen, tenke strategisk og bruke næringsmessige fortrinn, ifølge de samme forfatterne. Dette perspektivet velger vi å kalle «opportunistisk tilpasning», fordi vektleggingen av økonomiske muligheter knyttet til klimaendringer utkonkurrerer strategier for å begrense omfanget og gjøre noe med årsakene til klimaendringene. Det at nye olje- og gassfelt diskuteres uten at det nevnes at de bidrar til en kraftig økning av vårt nasjonale CO2-utslipp, er også karakteristisk for den generelle samfunnsdebatten om åpning av nye felt på norsk sokkel. Det er derfor langt fra overraskende at det samme er tilfellet i nord. Det institusjonelle miljøperspektivet kan sies å knyttes til forvaltning av ressursene til havs. I løpet av det siste tiåret har dette hovedsakelig kommet til uttrykk gjennom ulike forvaltningsplaner rettet mot å finne en balanse mellom næringsvirksomhet og økosystemets tåleevne. Forskningen på området styrkes og miljøprofilen heves, for eksempel gjennom etableringer som det nevnte Framsenteret. Senteret bidrar, ifølge egne nettsider, «til å opprettholde Norges posisjon som en fremragende forvalter av miljø og naturressurser i nord».6 Samtidig ser vi at det å forvalte ikke er det samme som å forholde seg til årsakene til klimaendringene i et Arktis i rask og uforutsigbar endring. Daværende utenriksminister Jonas Gahr Støre både anerkjente og var opptatt av at dette er et stort paradoks, men at 77

Nordområdepolitikken: A license to drill?

geografien tross alt må holdes adskilt fra den globale energipolitikken. På oljemessa i Stavanger i august 2012, gjentok han argumentet som ofte kommer opp i debatten for de som vil gjøre det politisk legitimt å bore etter nye ressurser i arktiske farvann: It is not a national or regional paradox, but a global one. We must increase our capacity to deal with challenges to economic activity.7

Økt olje- og gassvirksomhet i arktiske områder er altså verken et regionalt eller et nasjonalt spørsmål: Det er et globalt anliggende, fordi

Kritikk møtes med det svar at Norge har langt lavere utslipp fra produksjon av nye felt enn de vi sammenlikner oss med, at Norge har de høyeste miljøstandardene og borer med den beste teknologien. Også i et globalt klimaperspektiv blir det derfor bedre at vi utvinner olje og gass, enn at noen andre gjør det etter lavere standardarder og med større miljøbelastning. Petroleumsutvinning og miljøhensyn er to krevende, ofte gjensidig utelukkende sider av samme sak – en dikotomi og en selvmotsigelse i et nullsumspill der økt petroleumsaktivitet per definisjon nødvendigvis må gå på bekostning av miljøhensyn og vice versa. Den teknologiopti-

Også i et globalt klimaperspektiv blir det derfor bedre at vi utvinner olje og gass, enn at noen andre gjør det etter lavere standardarder og med større miljøbelastning. verden stadig trenger olje og gass for å fungere. Det er heller ikke Norges jobb å finne en vei ut av et paradoksalt dilemma, men å håndtere det pragmatisk. Stikkordene er igjen tilpasning og opportunisme. Oljeindustrien bygger opp under dette, og Barentshavet kan bli et viktig teknologisk laboratorium for å utvikle en teknologi som kan muliggjøre utvinning andre steder i Arktis, hvor forholdene er enda mer isfylte, krevende og uforutsigbare med mer is og villere natur enn i den norske delen av Barentshavet. I forlengelsen av denne typen argumentasjon er det nærliggende å anta at en vellykket start i Barentshavet vil fungere som en døråpner som bidrar til politisk legitimitet og derigjennom en «sosial tillatelse»8 til å gå dypere inn i Arktis. Relativisme og skylapper I nordområdepolitikken gjøres det altså et skille: Norske myndigheter kommuniserer ikke at valget mellom økning i petroleumsproduksjonen og klimapolitikk – forstått som utslippsreduserende tiltak – er et reelt prioriteringsdilemma. 78

mistiske og til dels selvforherligende «ja takk, begge deler»-logikken som dominerer det norske ordskiftet, framstår i et sånt perspektiv som ordkløveri. Og videre, som et forsøk på å unngå en allmenn, grunnleggende meningsbrytning om veivalg og om hva slags samfunn Norge skal være – i møte med verden utenfor, i møte med framtiden og ikke minst i møte med oss selv. Dette er i og for seg ikke nytt tankegods. Hovden og Lindseth (2004) beskriver hvordan Norsk klimapolitikk endret seg markant og grunnleggende gjennom 1990-tallet. Den dominerende miljøpolitiske klimadiskursen på begynnelsen av 1990-tallet handlet om «nasjonal handling» - Norge skulle stabilisere utslippene på 1989-nivå som det beste bidraget til å motvirke globale klimaendringer. Vi var det første landet i verden til å sette virkelig ambisiøse klimamål. Ti år senere handler det meste om å «tenke globalt» - Norge skal ved bruk av fleksible mekanismer (Kyoto-mekanismene) kunne øke sine utslipp fra olje- og gassektoren, samtidig som vi kunne beholde integritet på klimafeltet. Det globale perspektivet er med andre

Berit Kristoffersen og Leif Christian Jensen

ord blitt strukket vel langt, når det på bakgrunn av et slikt resonnement nærmest framstilles som at Norge borer av ren altruisme for å hjelpe miljøet. Dette sammenfaller på sett og vis også med selvforståelsen i Barentshavet, hvor Norge går foran som det gode eksempelet for miljøsinken Russland. Mens Russlands framtidige offshorevirksomhet i Barentshavet er en utfordring som kan håndteres, er en uttalt strategi å utnytte muligheter. I en slik strategi er utslippsreduserende tiltak ikke rett medisin. Samtidig har økt temperatur og en endret arktisk geografi gjort at man er blitt mer opptatt av områdets endrede fysiske forutsetninger. Norges uttalte mål er altså å utnytte de mulighetene som denne endringen gir. Mens klimaregnskapet generelt gjelder nye felt, kommer denne opportunismen hva angår klimatilpasning til syne i Barentshavet. Olje- og energiminister Ola Borten Moe argumenterer for eksempel for at man nær sagt kan bore hele veien opp til polpunktet. Full gass mot den siste olje Dersom vi slår fast at energisikkerhet er den nye, dominerende virkelighetsbeskrivelsen i nordområdesatsingen knyttet til olje- og gassutvinning, kan vi hevde at den ser ut til å ha solid klangbunn fordi alt som smaker av sikkerhet, skaper engasjement, «en følelse av hastverk» og av at «noe må gjøres» – helst nå – i maktens korridorer både nasjonalt og internasjonalt, som formulert i denne Stortingsmeldingen: Energisikkerhet har på kort tid blitt et sentralt tema i sikkerhetspolitikken. Behovet for langsiktige og stabile energileveranser er et vitalt sikkerhetsanliggende for mange land. Norges posisjon som en stor og troverdig energieksportør gir Norge og våre nærområder økt internasjonal betydning. Regjeringen vil engasjere seg for en langsiktig politikk som internasjonalt sikrer stabile energileveranser og trygge transportruter. 9

De såkalte energidialogene/nordområdedialogene Utenriksdepartementet igangsatte med andre nasjoner midt på 2000-tallet, er eksempler på hvordan Norge forsøkte å sette nordområdene på en internasjonal dagsorden. Dette har vært med blandet hell.10 Manglende iver hittil fra USA og EU kan muligens ha en viss sammenheng med at de om lag hundre prøveboringene som er gjennomført i Barentshavet, så langt har resultert i kun tre konkrete utbyggingsprosjekter (Snøhvit, Goliat og Skrugard). De utenriks- og sikkerhetspolitiske mulighetene og utfordringene i nordområdene knytter seg altså, sett med norske øyne, i høy grad til det potensialet området har til å forsyne stater med strategiske og knappe ressurser. På den måten løftes energisikkerhet opp som et mellomstatlig og internasjonalt anliggende, hvilket gir umiddelbare og sterke assosiasjoner, og faller således innenfor et forståelses- og begrepsapparat som allerede er godt forankret i og knyttet til staten som idé og politisk enhet. At det er en litt annen, utvidet og ofte mykere form for sikkerhet enn den realistiske, statssentrerte varianten som ligger i begrepet energisikkerhet virker underordnet. Men her kommer vi også til kjernen i problemstillingen: Hva skjer med «miljøproblemet» når det skal innpasses i og være i takt med statens interesser? Ser vi på den politiske utviklingen de siste fem årene, er det spesielt ett framtredende trekk som peker seg ut: Energisikkerhet legitimeres langs samme linjer som ”tenke globalt” klimaperspektivet – altså hvor Norge samlet sett skal bidra til reduksjoner i det globale klimaregnskapet gjennom Kyoto-mekanismene og en oljeproduksjon med lavere CO2-utslipp enn andre oljeproduserende land. Etterspørselen etter energi er global og i økende grad et knapt gode, særlig fordi nyindustrialiserte land er i rask vekst på en tradisjonell utviklingsbane. Det er ikke lenger slik at Norges olje og gass «bare» skal sikre og forsikre våre venner i Europa og USA. Det skjer med 79

Nordområdepolitikken: A license to drill?

dette en global re-skalering av rollen nye oljeog gassfelt i Norge tenkes å spille i et globalt energisikkerhetsperspektiv. Dette er en «ny» fortelling, basert på kjent dramaturgi om lille, store Norge i en enda større verden som trenger oss. Statsminister Jens Stoltenberg argumenter i boka Klimaparadokset (2010) for at Norge skal utvinne energi i solidaritet med utviklingsland: Bruken av fossil energi i fattige land vokser kraftig. De har masse kull, de leter etter olje. Når verden trenger mer energi for å bekjempe fattigdom, så er det ikke moralsk feil at Norge er med på å levere den energien, den olje og den gassen…sånn at de kan få dekket sine behov. Hvis vi hadde en strategi om å strupe det, så ville færre mennesker bli løftet ut av fattigdom. Det er ikke moralsk. For det andre er det slik av vår energi er renere. Når verden først skal ha betydelige mengder olje og gass, mener jeg at det er bedre at den kommer fra Norge enn andre steder, fordi vi er blant de landene som har absolutt lavest utslipp per produsert enhet11

Boring for (global) utvikling Det er i hovedsak to former for diskurskooptering som skjer, som har mange fellestrekk med «boring for miljø»-overtagelsen vi har vært innom: Boring i nord bidrar til utslippsreduks-


joner i et globalt perspektiv (som klimatiltak) og til utvikling i det globale sør. Her kuppes utviklingslandenes resonnement som går ut på at det er de utviklede, vestlige landene som må redusere sine klimagassutslipp for at utviklingsland skal ha et tilstrekkelig rom i atmosfæren til å slippe ut CO2. Storylinen er omtrent som følger: «Utslipp kan og bør kuttes andre steder, og Norge bør opprettholde produksjonsnivået ved å utvinne nye felter i nord for å skape økonomisk vekst i det globale sør». Dette bidrar til å opprettholde Norges legitimitet og «sosiale tillatelse» som en av de store og absolutt reneste leverandørene av knappe, strategiske ressurser i verden. Og kanskje enda viktigere: Det bidrar til å opprettholde det nasjonale selvbildet som en liten og unik, men samtidig stor global aktør som kan utgjøre en forskjell. Så lenge vi kan være enige om at vi ikke først og fremst er oss selv nok, men borer mest for miljøet, klimaet, global utvikling (eller noe annet prisverdig) i nord, er den nasjonale motsetningen i det å være en petroleumsdrevet miljønasjon til å leve med. Slik sett kan vi fjerne spørsmålstegnet i tittelen på artikkelen og konkludere med at nordområdepolitikken så langt, bidrar til en «license to drill».

Berit Kristoffersen og Leif Christian Jensen


Denne artikkelen er hovedsakelig basert på et utvalg publikasjoner fra forfatternes doktorgradsarbeider. Disse er gjengitt i litteraturlisten. 1 Utenriksdepartementet 2011. Stortingsmelding #7 (2011–2012) Nordområdene: Visjoner og virkemidler, side 19. www. 2 Gjenåpningen var basert på rapporten Utredning av konsekvenser av helårig petroleumsvirksomhet i området Lofoten – Barentshavet fra juli 2003. 3 Basert på Hønneland og Jensen (2008) og Jensen og Hønneland (2011) som utfyllende beskriver hvordan Russland ble fremstilt i kjølvannet av Sovjetunionenes oppløsning. 4 Daværende fylkesordfører i Finnmark, (nå nestleder i Arbeiderpartiet) Helga Pedersen i Nordlys 2. Desember 2003. 5 Talen ble holdt for hovedsakelig forskere den 29. September 2010. Berit Kristoffersen var tilstede og sitatet er basert på lydopptak som ble transkribert. 6 7 Talen het ”The Norwegian perspective on Arctic resource development and management” 27. august 2012. 8 «Sosial tillatelse» har vi lånt og tilpasset fra det engelske «social license��������������������������������������������������������� » (to operate). ��������������������������������������������������� Begrepet er godt etablert i den internasjonale energisektoren. På nettsiden finner vi følgende definisjon: “The Social License has been defined as existing when a project has the ongoing approval within the local community and other stakeholders, ongoing approval or broad social acceptance and, most frequently, as ongoing acceptance. At the level of an individual project the Social License is rooted in the beliefs, perceptions and opinions held by the local population and other stakeholders about the project. It is therefore granted by the community… Finally, it is dynamic and non-permanent because beliefs, opinions and perceptions are subject to change as new information is acquired. Hence the Social License has to be earned and then maintained”. 9 Forsvarsdepartmentet 2007. 2007–2008, side 18. 10 Se Offerdal, 2010. 11 Alstadheim, K. B. 2010, side 71. Alstadheim har skrevet en bok om Jens Stoltenbergs tilnærming til klimaendringer, basert på intervjuer.


Alstadheim, K. B. 2010. Klimaparadokset. Jens Stoltenberg om vår tids største utfordring. Aschehoug & Co, Oslo Angell, E., Eikeland S. & P. Selle, 2010. Nordområdepolitikken sett fra nord. Fagboklaget. Forsvarsdepartementet, 2007. St.melding #1 2007–2008, for budsjettåret 2008. Hovden E. & G. Lindseth, 2004. ’Discourses in Norwegian climate policy: national action or thinking globally?’, Political Studies, 52, 63- 81. Hønneland, G. & L. C. Jensen, 2008. Den nye nordområdepolitikken: Barentsbilder etter årtusenskiftet. Bergen, Fagbokforlaget. Jensen, L. C. 2006. ’Boring som miljøargument? Norske petroleumsdiskurser i nordområdene,’ Internasjonal Politikk, 64, (3), 295-309. Jensen, L. C. 2007. ’Petroleum Discourse in the European Arctic: The Norwegian Case’, Polar Record, 43 (3), 247-254. Jensen, L. C. 2010. ’Norsk oljeboring for å hjelpe miljøet: Diskurskooptering som nytt analytisk begrep’, Norsk Statsvitenskapelig Tidsskrift, 26 (3), 185-203. Jensen, L. C. & G. Hønneland 2011. ’Framing the High North: Public Discourses in Norway after 2000’, Acta Borealia, 8 (1), 37-54. Jensen, L. C. & P. W. Skedsmo 2010. ’Approaching the North: Norwegian and Russian Foreign Policy Discourses on the European Arctic’, Polar Research, 29,. 439-450. Jensen, L. C. (under trykking). ’Seduced and Surrounded by Security: A post-structuralist take on Norwegian High North securitizing discourses’, Cooperation and Conflict. Kristoffersen, B. 2013. ’”Securing geography”: Framings, logics and strategies in the Norwegian High North’, in Powell & Dodds (eds), Polar Geopolitics: Knowledges, Resources and Legal Regimes, Edward Elgar, forthcoming. Kristoffersen, B. 2013. ’Opportunistic Adaptation: New discourses on oil, equity and environmental security’, in O’Brien and Selboe (eds), The adaptive challenge of climate change, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming. Kristoffersen, B. & S. Young. 2010. ’Geographies of security and statehood in Norway’s “Battle of the North”’, Geoforum, 41 (4,) 577-584. O’Brien, K., A. St. Clair & B. Kristoffersen. 2010, ’The framing of climate change: why it matters’, in O’Brien, St. Clair & Kristoffersen (eds), Climate Change, Ethics and Human Security, Cambridge University Press. Offerdal, K. (2010), ‘The politics of energy in the European High North: Norway and the petroleum dialogue with the USA and the EU’, PhD-thesis in Political science, University of Oslo.



Notes from a Bird Cliff

Sari Cunningham

Dense fog, the whirring of wings, and a sharp “kree-ak ak ak ak ak” chattering fill the air. It is impossible to tell where I am heading, other than uphill, and my footing is unsteady as I teeter on loose rocks. I’m concerned with falling off the cliff, but also with the fact that as my weight shifts the larger boulders beneath I am potentially crushing eggs that have been laid in these screes, or sealing off entrances to nests that have been used and reused for years. A lone Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) slinks its way down the side of the talus slope, in search of easy prey. It is early June, and I am on Svalbard, in the Bjørndalen breeding site for little auks (Alle alle), a migratory seabird that has returned for the summer. On Svalbard, this small alcid species has an endearing nickname – “Tromsøværing” or “native of Tromsø.” Apparently, the little auk shares its reputation for insistent chattering with the residents of mainland Norway. Photo: Sari Cunningham

Little auks breed throughout the high-Arctic, and in summer nest in large colonies along the southwestern and northwestern coast of the Svalbard archipelago.1 The Bjørndalen site (78°14’N, 15°19’E), which is situated along Isfjorden,2 is one of 207 known breeding colonies in Svalbard.3 It is difficult to ascertain adult population estimates of little auks accurately during the breeding season, due to the hidden nature of nests.1,4 However, rough estimates place the number of breeding pairs on Svalbard at 1 million,1 making the little auk one of the most common seabird species. Little auks are monogamous.5 The female lays only one egg, which is incubated for 30 days by both parents.2 Nestlings are homeothermic at 3 to 5 days old,6 and fledge at around 27 days old.5 Chick-provisioning duties are shared by both parents.5 Little auks are planktivorous,7 and during the breeding season feed almost exclusively 83

Notes from a Bird Cliff

on small crustaceans known as calanoid copepods.7,8 The copepod Calanus glacialis is a cold water species, with its center of distribution in the Arctic shelf seas.9 C. glacialis has large lipid reserves and high energy content, as compared to Calanus finnmarchicus, a typical warm water species found in North Atlantic waters.9 Little auks will dive up to 27m to forage, capturing prey at a rate of 6 copepods per second.10 They preferentially feed on the largest life stages of Calanus species present, which have the largest lipid reserves and highest energy content.11 By selecting for the largest life stages of calanoid copepods, the little auk maximizes its foraging efficiency, its lipid-rich diet compensating for the high foraging costs it incurs.7 Provisioning chicks is a demanding task, and little auks are built in such a way that they sustain high energy costs due to wing loading.4 The wings of little auks are a compromise between flight and diving, and as such are not wholly suited to either performance. In addition, little auks employ a bimodal foraging strategy,2 as they intersperse short, frequent trips to nearby waters with longer, infrequent trips further away. Short trips are made to waters near the colony to select prey for chicks,12 with the fresh catch stored in the gular pouches of the adults. Longer trips are likely made to waters further afield for self-maintenance.12 Changes in the composition of Calanus species present, for example due to changes in the water masses, may negatively affect little auks, as they are forced to increase


their foraging effort13 when conditions are not optimal. This cost can come at the expense of breeding success, as parents embark on longer trips in an effort at self-preservation.12 The western coast of Svalbard is affected by the West Spitsbergen Current (WSC), which carries warmer, Atlantic waters northwards.14 These waters move into the fjords by the process of advection. Recent years have seen a trend towards warmer waters along the western coast. In 2006, Atlantic waters pushed further north by an additional 350 km, and temperatures in the WSC rose dramatically.15 Isfjorden, along the Bjørndalen breeding site, lacks a sill at its entrance.14 It is therefore subjected to warm Atlantic waters from the West Spitsbergen Current on a seasonal basis,16 with subsequent changes in the composition of Calanus species found in its waters.9 If the trend persists, the warmer waters could have long-term implications for the breeding success of the Bjørndalen little auks. The fog has lifted, and the view over Isfjorden of snow-covered peaks is breathtaking. Back from a trip out to sea, little auks huddle on flat rocks, gular pouches full of the copepods they will soon deliver to chicks nestled out of sight in the talus slope. A sudden rush of wings, and the birds simultaneously lift off into the clear blue once more. Glancing skywards, I watch a predatory glaucous gull (Larus hyperboreus) circle the colony – a reminder that life is uncertain in the Arctic.

Sari Cunningham


1 Isaksen, K. and Gavrilo, M. V. (2000): Little auk Alle alle. In: Anker-Nilssen, T., Bakken, V., Strøm, H., Golovkin, A. N., Bianki, V. V. and Tatarinkova, I. P. (eds.) The status of marine birds breeding in the Barents sea region. Tromsø: Norsk Polarinstitutt. No. 113. 2 Steen, H., Vogedes, D., Broms, F., Falk-Petersen, S. and Berge, J. (2007): “Little auks (Alle alle) breeding in a High Arctic fjord system: bimodal foraging strategies as a response to poor food quality?” Polar Research 26: 118-125. 3 Strøm, H. (2006): Little Auk. In: Kovacs, K. M. and Lydersen, C. (eds.) Birds and Mammals of Svalbard. Tromsø: Norsk Polarinstitutt. 4 Gabrielsen, G. W. (2009): Seabirds in the Barents Sea. In: Sakshaug, E., Johnsen, G. H. and Kovacs, K. M. (eds.) Ecosystem Barents Sea. Trondheim: Tapir Academic. 5 Harding, A. M. A., Van Pelt, T. I., Lifjeld, J. T. and Mehlum, F. (2004): “Sex differences in Little Auk Alle alle parental care: transition from biparental to paternal-only care.” Ibis 146: 642-651. 6 Norderhaug, M. (1980): Breeding biology of the little auk (Plautus alle) in Svalbard. Oslo: Norsk Polarinstitutt. No. 173. 7 Stempniewicz, L. (2001): “Alle alle Little Auk.” The Journal of the Birds of the Western Palearctic. BWP Update 3: 175-201. 8 Węsławski, J. M., Stempniewicz, L., Mehlum, F. and Kwaśniewski, S. (1999): “Summer feeding strategy of the little auk (Alle alle ) from Bjørnøya, Barents Sea.” Polar Biology 21: 129-134. 9 Falk-Petersen, S., Mayzaud, P., Kattner, G. and Sargent, J. R. (2009): “Lipids and life strategy of Arctic Calanus.” Marine Biology Research 5: 18-39. 10 Harding, A. M. A., Egevang, C., Walkusz, W., Merkel, F., Blanc, S. and Grémillet, D. (2009): “Estimating prey capture rates of a planktivorous seabird, the little auk (Alle alle), using diet, diving behaviour, and energy consumption.” Polar Biology 32: 785-796. 11 Mehlum, F. and Gabrielsen, G. W. (1993): “The diet of high Arctic seabirds in coastal and ice-covered, pelagic areas near the Svalbard archipelago.” Polar Research, 12:1-20. 12 Welcker, J., Harding, A. M. A., Karnovsky, N. J., Steen, H., Strøm, H. and Gabrielsen, G. W. (2009): “Flexibility in the bimodal foraging strategy of a high Arctic alcid, the little auk Alle alle.” Journal of Avian Biology 40: 388-399. 13 Kwasniewski, S., Gluchowska, M., Jakubas, D., Wojczulanis-Jakubas, K., Walkusz, W., Karnovsky, N., BlachowiakSamolyk, K., Cisek, M. and Stempniewicz, L. (2010): “The impact of different hydrographic conditions and zooplankton communities on provisioning Little Auks along the West coast of Spitsbergen.” Progress in Oceanography 87: 72-82. 14 Nilsen, F., Cottier, F., Skogseth, R. and Mattsson, S. (2008): “Fjord–shelf exchanges controlled by ice and brine production: The interannual variation of Atlantic Water in Isfjorden, Svalbard.” Continental Shelf Research 28: 1838-1853. 15 Walczowski, W., Piechura, J., Goszczko, I. andWieczorek, P. (2012): “Changes in Atlantic water properties: an important factor in the European Arctic marine climate.” ICES Journal of Marine Science 69: 864-869. 16 Berge, J., Johnsen, G., Nilsen, F., Gulliksen, B. and Slagstad, D. (2005): “Ocean temperature oscillations enable reappearance of blue mussels Mytilus edulis in Svalbard after a 1000 year absence.” Marine Ecology-Progress Series 303: 167-175.


Effects of POPs on the Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus in the Arctic

Aubrey Jane Roberts The past few years have seen an increase in negative consequences due to persistent organic pollutants (POPs), despite the fact that many of them are banned. POPs are chemicals that are bioaccumulative pollutants that undergo long distance transport via sea and air currents and river outflows into the Arctic region. These chemicals have a tendency to bioaccumulate through the food web and ultimately concentrate at the top of the trophic levels; a process termed biomagnification. Several studies have been done in the past decade on the effects of POPs on Arctic species, especially at high trophic levels. This essay will present findings on the effects of POPs on the glaucous gull Larus hyperboreus. The problem There are many different types of POPs, all of 86

which are synthetic. The most common and well known POPs are: BFRs (Polybrominated flame retardants), and organochlorines like DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane), oxychlordane, and PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl),1 which have been used as insecticides. These are found at higher concentrations in Arctic predators at the top of the food web compared to similar predators found at lower latitudes, due to long distance transport from the eight circumpolar countries by wind, currents and river drainage.2,3 Glaucous gulls are the top avian predators in the Arctic, and as such are more susceptible to accumulating POPs than other Arctic birds.4 They are relatively large, with a wingspan of 149-182 cm, and weigh 1250-2700 g. They are generalists and opportunists and consume a variety of prey such as fish, marine invertebrates,

eggs, insects, birds and carrion, including cadavers of other top predator species. They usually breed in small colonies of 5-15 pairs, but colonies can occasionally exceed 100 individuals. In common with many seabird species, they are long lived with a lifespan of up to 20 years.5 Glaucous gulls acquire POPs through their diet. Their main food sources are crabs, birds and fish; individually this type of prey does not have high POP concentrations. However the trophic transfer of the total prey consumed by an individual predator during its lifetime can result in high concentrations of POPs.4 Being fat soluble, POPs are not excreted quickly and hence build up in an organism’s body fat until a stable equilibrium is reached, or the POPs are transferred to offspring. POPs are transferred from food to the bloodstream, and are then stored in body fat.1 According to Herzke and colleagues,6 the most common POPs found in glaucous gulls are PCB and p,p’DDE, which is a metabolite of DDT. These constitute 90% of the total contaminants found in this species. One would think that since glaucous gulls have a long lifespan, POPs would keep accumulating in their bodies. However, according to Bustnes et al.7 the concentration that builds up in a gull’s system reaches a stable equilibrium within the gull’s first breeding year. In addition, one must take into account the fact that the concentration equilibrium level, and the age of reaching it, can vary due to differences in diet. A bird that feeds mainly on other birds or birds’ eggs has a higher equilibrium level than a bird that feeds mainly on fish.7 This indicated that glaucous gulls reach a stable level of POPs at an early age, compared to their long lifespans. There have been several studies on the effects of POPs on glaucous gulls, but few are conclusive. For example, one study by Sagerup et al.8 showed that there might be a negative correlation between POP concentrations in the liver and brain, and body condition of dead birds found on Bear Island. Unfortunately, there were Photo: Alastair Rae

only 21 birds in total found over 3 years of fieldwork, so the small sample size limits the validity of the results. Several studies on the effects of organochlorines on glaucous gulls have been carried out. One of these studies by Bustnes et al.9 observed a number of negative effects. 111 birds were caught in the pre-nesting period. They were marked, measured, weighed and their blood tested for organochlorines. The researchers found a negative correlation between the concentration of certain POPs in female blood and the viability of the first and second eggs laid. They also discovered that females with high levels of circulating organochlorines were more likely to lay non-viable eggs, and at a later date. This suggests that chicks receive POPs through their mother, and this reduces the first and second chicks’ conditions and even the ability of eggs to hatch. A possible negative correlation was also found between blood concentrations of certain organochlorines and the survival of adults, with oxychlordane having the strongest negative effect. Similar results from another study seemed to show that adult survival in relation to POP concentration was dependent on the distance the parents had to travel to feed.10 This could be a sign that natural stress has a role to play in the toxicity of POPs. However Bustnes et al.9 found no negative correlation between adult age, clutch size, incubation time and the concentration of POPs. This suggests that POPs do not affect adult bird incubation behavior. These results are supported by another study by Verboven et al.11 However due to small sample sizes, there is still much controversy around this point. Certain POPs are chemically similar to hormones found in the glaucous gull, especially estrogens and testosterone. A study by Verboven et al.12 looked at the concentrations of testosterone and 17β-estradiol in the eggs of glaucous gulls in relation to POPs. They found a positive correlation between POPs and testosterone con87

Effects of POPs on the Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus in the Arctic

centration in the yolks. Eggs from nests where two siblings hatched or failed to hatch differed in POPs concentration, and in the relative concentrations of testosterone and 17β-estradiol. These results suggest that there is a POP-related change in the concentration of yolk steroids, which could possibly affect the outcome of the offspring involved. Another similar study observed a positive correlation between an organohalogenated POP, PFCA (perfluorobutanoate carboxylates) and thyroid hormones, indicating a disturbance of thyroid hormone homeostasis. What does this tell us? Many of the studies of the effects of POPs on glaucous gulls are not statistically significant. This is due to the fact that there is such a small sample size in almost all of the studies, e.g.6,8,10 When there are less than 30 birds in total in a study, the sample size is not large enough to achieve statistical significance unless the effects are pronounced, and even then the results are more prone to bias. Bustnes and colleagues9 had a significantly larger sample size of 111 birds, and obtained more valid and significant results. The results suggested that certain POPs have a physiological effect on glaucous gulls, but more research is required to control these results in all age classes and sexes, and to test if any other factors affect the glaucous gull. In particular, an environmental factor such as stress needs to be incorporated in the model. For example in Bustnes et al.,7 birds that fed further away from their nest site, had a higher POP concentration in their blood than other birds that fed locally. Another example is shown in Bustnes et al.,13 where anti-parasite treatment seemed to remove the negative effects of organochlorines on reproduction in males. Males that did not receive such treatment had lower reproductive success. This suggests that natural stress can trigger the detrimental effects of POPs. There is much discussion as to whether or not POPs affect the behavior of adults in such 88

a way that their reproductive success is reduced, as there is evidence on both fronts. In one study Bustnes et al.9 failed to show that POPs affected incubation time, whereas a later study,7 showed that PCB and oxychlordane concentrations in adults are correlated positively with time away from the nest site during incubation. Verboven et al.11 also looked at this hypothesis, but did not find enough evidence to support it. However, they did report a negative correlation between high DDT concentrations and nest attendance in males, and therefore concluded that the predation of eggs is subsequently more likely. A previous study by Bustnes and colleagues14 specifically directed at nest attendance and POP concentrations, found both the proportion of time spent away from the nest site when not incubating, and the number of absences, were significantly related to the concentration of PCB. Whether this means that PCB affects the behavior of glaucous gulls directly, or that some other unaccounted factor variable is to blame, is still up for debate. In particular the preliminary results of research on the effect of POPs on hormone balance are worrying, and require further work. The results from the studies discussed, are ambiguous and there is a good deal of uncertainty in their conclusions. Experiments with larger sample sizes are needed to further knowledge in this matter. It appears that POPs (especially DDT, PCB and oxychlordane) affect glaucous gulls, and in particular lower adult survival. This is especially the case if other environmental factors cause stress on the individual affected e.g. in the form of long travelling distances and parasites.13 Lowering adult survival rates could be problematic for glaucous gull populations. As these birds have such a long lifespan, their growth rate is sensitive to the adult survival rate.15 With POPs lowering this lifespan, the population has decreased and will keep on decreasing.

Aubrey Jane Roberts


1 Jones, K. C. and Voogt, P. (1999): “Persistent organic pollutants (POPs): state of the science.” Environmental Pollution 100(1-3): 209-221. 2 Barrie, L. A., Gregor, D., Hargrave, B., Lake, R., Muir, D., Shearer, R., Tracy, B. and Bidleman, T. (1992): “Arctic contaminants: sources, occurrence and pathways.” The Science of The Total Environment 122(1-2): 1-74. 3 Carlsson, P., Herzke, D. Wedbord, M. and Gabrielsen, G. W. (2011): “Environmental pollutants in the Swedish marine ecosystem, with special emphasis on polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).” Chemosphere 82: 1286-1292. 4 Borgå, K., Gabrielsen, G. W. and Skaare, J. U. (2001): “Biomagnification of organochlorine along a Barents Sea food chain.” Environmental Pollution. 113: 187-198. 5 Kovacs K. M. and Lydersen C. (2006): “Svalbards fugler og pattedyr” Norsk Polarinstitutt Tromsø. p. 141. 6 Herzke, D., Gabrielsen, G. W., Evenset, A. & Burkow, I. C. (2003): ”Polychlorinated camphenes (toxaphenes), polybrominated diphenylethers and other halogenated organic pollutants in glaucous gulls (Larus hyperboreus) from Svalbard and Bjørnøya (Bear Island).” Environmental pollution 121(2): 293-300. 7 ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ Bustnes, J. O., Bakken, V., Skaare, J. U. & Erikstad, K. E. (2003a): ”Age and accumulation of persistent organochlorines: A study of arctic-breeding glaucous gulls (Larus hyperboreus).” Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 22(9): 2173–2179. 8 Sagerup, K., Helgason, L. B., Polder, A., Josefsen, T. D., Skåre, J. U. and Gabrielsen, G. W. (2009): ”Persistent organic pollutants and mercury in dead and dying glaucous gulls (Larus hyperboreus) at Bjørnøya (Svalbard).” Science of The Total Environment 407(23): 6009-6016. 9 Bustnes, J. O., Erikstand, K. E., Skaare, J. U. & Mehlum, F. (2003b): “Ecological effects of Organochlorine pollutants in the arctic: A study on the glaucous gull.” Ecological Applications 13(2): 504-515 10 Bustnes, J. O., Miland, Ø., Fjeld, M., Erikstad, K. E. and Skaare, J. U. (2003c): “Relationships between ecological variables and four organochlorine pollutants in an arctic glaucous gull (Larus hyperboreus) population.” Environmental Pollution 136(1): 175-185. 11 Verboven, N., Verreault, J., Letcher, R. J., Gabrielsen, G. W. & Evans, N. P. (2009), “Nest temperature and parental behaviour of Arctic-breeding glaucous gulls exposed to persistent organic pollutants”. Animal behavior 77(2): 411-418. 12 Verboven, N., Verrault, J., Letcher, R. J., Gabrielsen, G. W. and Evans, N. P. (2008): “Maternally derived testosterone and 17 estradiol in the eggs of Arctic-breeding glaucous gulls in relation to persistent organic pollutants.” Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Toxicology & Pharmacology 148(2): 143-151. 13 Bustnes, J. O., Erikstad, K. E., Hanssen, S. A., Tveraa, T., Folstad, I. and Skaare, J. U. (2006): “Anti-parasite treatment removes negative effects of environmental pollutants on reproduction in an arctic seabird.” Proc. Biol. Sci. Series B 273: 3117–3122. 14 Bustnes J. O., Bakken V., Erikstad K. E., Mehlum F., and Skaare J. U. (2001): “Patterns of incubation and nestsite attentiveness in relation to organochlorine (PCB) contamination in glaucous gulls.” Journal of Applied Ecology (4): 7491–801. 15 Wooller, R. D., Bradley, J. S. and Croxall, J. P. (1992): Long-term population studies of seabirds, Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 7(4); 111-114.



The Other Moratorium – Freezing Central Arctic Fisheries as the Ice Withdraws

Sébastien Duyck Over the past months, the need to protect the High North from the environmental risks inherent to economic development has become a central issue. In particular, many groups have warned against the hazardous nature of offshore oil exploration in the waters of the Arctic Ocean, suggesting a moratorium on drilling activities. However, virtually all of the important oil and gas resources to be found in the region are located within the territorial jurisdiction of the five coastal states (Norway, Denmark for Greenland, Canada, the United States and Russia), thus reducing the likelihood of regional support for such a proposal at any time in the near future. This proposal is however not the only moratorium currently suggested for the region. Parliamentarians and scientists have also suggested freezing the development of fisheries Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

in the Central Arctic until a proper governance model is set in place. While this proposal is contested by some of the key regional players, there are good arguments to suggest that such an approach could present benefits to all relevant actors and hence could attract further support. A regional consensus on the regulation of fisheries in the High Arctic is particularly relevant as marine living resources occurring beyond the limit of 200 nautical miles fall outside of the jurisdiction of the coastal states. Indeed, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides that in principle, “[a]ll States have the right for their nationals to engage in fishing on the high seas.” The convention merely states a duty of all interested states to cooperate with each other in the management of the fish stocks. These weak provisions have been criticized for 91

The Other Moratorium – Freezing Central Arctic Fisheries as the Ice Withdraws

failing to address the “tragedy of the commons.” The subsequent Fish Stocks Agreement signed in 1995 further defines the role of regional fisheries management organizations, expressing the duty of states to establish an organization or cooperate with any relevant existing ones. In this context, several actors have expressed their support for a moratorium on the development of Arctic fisheries. In 2008, the US Congress adopted a joint resolution calling for the establishment of an agreement to ensure the sustainable management of fisheries in the Arctic. Until such a framework is established, the congress recommended halting the development of new fisheries in the region. The European Union has also repeatedly expressed support for a temporary ban on new fisheries in the Arctic Ocean.

before proceeding with any new fisheries. So far, no international organization or forum has yet addressed the issue of fisheries management in the Arctic. Despite its broad mandate covering cooperation on “common Arctic issues, in particular issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic”, neither the Arctic Council nor its working groups have specifically addressed fisheries management. In 2007, its members have expressed their preference to deal with such issues “within the context of existing framework.” This lack of interest has however been more recently addressed by the five Arctic coastal states which emphasized in 2008 their “stewardship” of the Arctic Ocean and have engaged since then in a more informal form of regional

85% of world fish stocks are either fully exploited, overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion. This proposal gained additional momentum in April 2012, with the open letter signed by 2000 scientists urging the leaders of the Arctic coastal states to set a “precautionary management system for central Arctic Ocean fisheries”, including the establishment of a “robust management, monitoring, and enforcement regime” and the prohibition of exploratory fishing until sufficient scientific data is available to assess sustainable catch levels. The 1980 Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) provides an inspiring example of a best practice that could be applied in the High North. CCAMLR sets the framework for the management of fisheries in the Southern Ocean on the basis of an ecosystem approach. It also applies a precautionary approach with regards to the emergence of new fisheries, requesting member states to notify the commission and wait for a scientific review and a formal approval 92

cooperation parallel to the Arctic Council. During their second ministerial meeting in 2010, they emphasized the existence of a comprehensive international legal framework and their own “unique interest and role” to play in Arctic fisheries management. While they noted that commercial fisheries are not expected to develop in the short term, the five states did call for the convening of a special senior officials meeting dedicated to Arctic fisheries. The senior officials of the coastal states noted the current lack of scientific data on the impact of climate change on Arctic fish stocks and invited a subsequent meeting at the expert level to evaluate relevant information. While the launch of this process constitutes a welcomed first step towards regional cooperation on the fisheries in the Central Arctic, this process is however unlikely to provide guarantees to other interested actors that it would ensure sustainable exploitation of future fish stocks. Indeed, this process currently

Sébastien Duyck

takes place outside of any formal framework and provides no opportunities for the engagement of other actors. A more transparent (and perhaps also more inclusive) approach would better demonstrate the stewardship of the five coastal states. A recent report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization evaluated that 85% of world fish stocks are either fully exploited, overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion. This situation is likely to increase pressure for the de-

velopment of fisheries in the high Arctic, as the competition for resources will be exacerbated in the future. In this context, the remaining time before this new industry becomes economically viable should be seen as an opportunity for the interested states to set an adequate regulation framework to prevent the region from becoming another example of the mismanagement of fish stocks.


Arctic Climate Assessment, Chapter 13: Fisheries and Aquaculture, Cambridge University Press (2005), 691-780.http:// US Senate Joint Resolution 17 (110th) (2008): the United States to initiate international discussions and take necessary steps with other Nations to negotiate an agreement for managing migratory and transboundary fish stocks in the Arctic Ocean. Chair Summary of the meeting of the senior officials of the five Arctic coastal States on conservation and management of fish stocks (2010) Open letter by 2000 scientists urging states to protect Central Arctic Ocean Fisheries (2012) Molenaar, Erik J. (2012): “Arctic Fisheries and International Law: Gaps and Options to Address Them.” Carbon and Climate Law Review 1: 63-77. 93

Arctic Dreams, Arctic Nightmares

Lawrence Buell

All informed persons know, whatever their judgment about the matter, that anthropogenic change has accelerated global warming faster in recent years than anyone expected half a century ago. They know too that the Polar Regions are the proverbial canary in the coal mine for the Anthropocene age. The impacts of climate change have been most dramatically manifested there. Huge chunks of the Antarctic ice shelf are breaking off. The Arctic ice cap is shrinking fast. The North Pole may be completely ice-free in summer as early as 2050. Is humankind really concerned? To some extent, yes. That seems to have been one motive, among others deemed more important at the time, for the Madrid Protocol of 1991 to prohibit extractive development of the Antarctic for the sake of “peace and science.” For the Arctic regions, however, such self-restraint seems much 94

less likely, so tempting are the prospects of more immediate gain after twenty years of thinning ice has made the polar region all the more accessible. Nor, by the same token, can we dare to presume that the Antarctic accord will hold forever. The lead story in the 24 September International Herald Tribune names Greenland as likely to become the first nation created as a result of the climate change benefit. It quotes the CEO of Nuna Minerals, the island’s largest homegrown mining concern, as declaring: “I wouldn’t mind if the whole ice cap disappears.” If so, goodbye to the Maldives and the other low-lying island nations whose fate is of special concern for the American environmentalist Bill McKibben’s “350” campaign: A broad-based attempt to arrest or curtail the rise in atmospheric particulates that aggravate the global “green-

house effect” and the inexorable rise of sea levels worldwide. But maybe not broad-based enough to be so compelling as to prevail. It’s not fair to single out the scantly populated colony of Greenland as culprit, when it’s clear that much mightier powers are also looking to the Arctic as a new frontier of boundless opportunity, including most of the nations whose borders contain parts of the polar region: Russia, the United States, Canada, and of course Norway. To some observers concerned with security issues, this seems a very scary scenario. Will the next big war be fought over contested claims to parts of the Arctic Ocean floor? I personally doubt it, considering that most of the necessary legal and negotiating arrangements seem to be in place. But even if not, no less scary in its own way for Earth’s future would be a combination of massive-scale influx of cargo vessels taking advantage of new all-season ocean routes and a massive-scale twenty-first century “gold rush” for the newly accessible fossil fuel deposits and mineral wealth. In a best-case scenario, perhaps ecotourism might be promoted as a substitute, at least in part, for the profits of extractivism, rather as the mid-twentieth century American environmentalist Aldo Leopold proposed “nature study” as a form of pleasurable engagement with wilderness higher than promiscuous hunting for sport. But even in a best-case scenario, tradeoffs are inevitable. Maintenance of human life in Svalbard, for instance, depends on coal, not to mention the petrol for snowmobiles and other vehicles that probably outnumber the several thousand

permanent residents. The aircraft and cruise ships that take the tourists there obviously aggravate the fossil fuel consumption and emissions problems. I was not greatly reassured by the cheery notice at the front desk of my lodge in Longyearbyen that trees had been planted in the tropics to offset the CO2 emissions of my SAS flight from Tromsø. Altogether, the American nature writer Barry Lopez’s classic Arctic Dreams (1986,) a powerfully lyrical and deeply informed reflection on the author’s sojourn in the American and Canadian Arctic, now looks as outdated as Rachel Carson’s no less lyrical and informed evocation of The Sea Around Us (1950) did a quarter century later, after the mega-scale problems of oceanic toxification and dumping had attracted widespread attention. The ocean depths didn’t turn out to be the impenetrable, inaccessible sanctuaries Carson imagined them to be. The Arctic is no longer the last refuge of wildness and traditional land-wise indigenous cultureways that Lopez hoped it would remain. Lopez himself sensed this. Early in Arctic Dreams, he imagines himself drifting off to sleep wondering if “we” (meaning western humans from Archimedes to Mendel to the present) might have achieved our wondrous advances in scientific knowledge only to become the perpetrators of our own undoing. In this age of the Anthropocene, that question looms larger than ever. But for the question to remain not only open, but also urgently felt, is also a basis for hope.



The Wolf Population in Norway: Threats to Population Viability

Erlend Aarsand and Torgeir Brandsar

The Norwegian wolf population has, since its reintroduction into the Norwegian fauna, experienced miniscule growth. The reasons for low growth is investigated here with system dynamics methodology. In short, the problem is: how can a population that is sustainable for 300 years be reached within 10 years? We establish culling as the main limitation to population growth and cause of fluctuations in population size. This is related to perception delay and aggressiveness in the culling policy. The current policy is not robust, and leaves the population vulnerable to low genetic diversity and poaching. The precautionary principle should be applied when designing policies, because of the high sensitivity to, and uncertainty of, heterozygosity and its effect on birth and death rates for pups. A Photo: Tine Marie Hagelin

new policy with a target total population of a hundred is suggested, with culling only used to bring the population down to the target. The analysis shows that this gives a robust population that can survive yearly poaching of up to 15 percent of the population from one year after implementation, even with a low favorable mutation rate. Introduction After nearly two decades of functional extinction1, the wolf (Canis lupus) reappeared in Norway in the early 1980s.2 Since then the population has seen only marginal growth, and consisted in 2010 of 33-35 animals, despite abundant prey and the population thus being far from the carrying capacity.3,4 Concerns are 97

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being raised by scientists, politicians and NGOs about the wolf ’s sustainability in Norway. A decisive, uncontested number for a long term viable population size is not possible to derive from the literature, but numbers often cited are in the range of 200-20005, depending on the assumptions made for genetics and inbreeding depression.6,7 It is desirable to preserve the wolf for reasons such as biologic diversity and balance in ecosystems, but seen from the government’s point of view it is also mandatory through the signing of international conventions.8 An individual based model9 study of the Norwegian wolf population was conducted by Bull, Nilsen, Mysterud and Milner-Gulland in 200910. Their findings were, among others, that the biggest threat to the wolf is unauthorized culling, while the most important factor in sustaining the population is immigration from the Swedish wolf population. The current size of the territory where wolves live, as well as the government’s goal for desired number of breeding animals, were considered unimportant. Nilsson11 on the other hand, argues that very little hunting should be allowed at low population sizes. Genetics is only included in the research to a limited degree. This creates a gap in the knowledge that we attempt to fill. J. Bull, et al. mention the importance of this, but genetics is not included in their model. With a system dynamics approach we explain the lack of growth, identify leverage points in the system, where efforts to improve performance will make the most impact, and show how performance can be improved. In previous research, a viable population is typically defined as a population that can be sustained for a hundred years.12 We take a perspective of 300 years, and show how this goal can be achieved within an arbitrarily chosen time of 10 years. In short, the problem is: how can a population that is sustainable for 300 years be reached within 10 years? 98

Dynamic Problem There seems to be agreement on the vulnerability of the Norwegian wolf population, despite the fact that the minimum size of a viable population is controversial. J. Bull, et al. predict that if the current conditions with regard to mortality and migration remain the same, the population size will remain small and highly variable, and go through a series of extinctions and re-colonizations by wolves from the Swedish population. Furthermore, since there are concerns about the viability of the Scandinavian population as a whole, conserving the Norwegian sub-population is important with regard to the entire Scandinavian population. Field surveys usually divide the wolf population into two stocks, the stationary wolf population and others. We focus here on the stationary population, since it is this population that is involved in the essential processes concerning reproduction and population growth. The category ‘others’ typically includes dispersers/lone wolves, which may be important as an inflow from a larger population to a smaller one, and may keep a small population from extinction,15 however we do not consider the effects of migration between packs, nor details regarding the social dynamics of the packs. Figure 1 compiles the upper estimates of the stationary wolf population in Norway from various sources16,17 and shows that the population is far below the lowest population size necessary to achieve sustainability. Resources are abundant, so the potential for population growth is large, i.e., the natural environment is not what is limiting growth.18,19 As seen in figure 1, the trend since the wolf ’s reappearance is weak linear growth coupled with oscillatory behavior, meaning that the population is increasing with yearly fluctuations around the linear growth trend. To achieve a long term sustainable population (300 years perspective), the stationary population must

Erlend Aarsand and Torgeir Brandsar

increase considerably. Otherwise there is a risk that the population may collapse as a result of genetic depression or other threats that are normally faced by small populations.20 The essence of the problem, then, is how to find and implement a policy that ensures the sustainability of the wolf population in Norway. The specifications for a sustainable wildlife management policy depend on a set of variables and the structural relationships between them. Hypothesis for the Dynamic Problem The model consists of three sub-models; i) the demographic and sociobiologic sub-model, ii) the genetic sub-model, and iii) the human interference sub-model. The two first submodels are concerned with the social structure of wolves, genetics, and reproduction. The last one concerns interference by human society. To understand why population growth has been small, one first has to understand how the system works. We shall therefore begin by looking into the demographic sub-model. The genetic sub-model needs to be explained in terms of the demographic one. The human interference submodel will be presented lastly. The population is divided into three social positions: young wolves, sub-dominant, and dominant. All are first young wolves (young wolves and pups are used synonymously throughout the paper). Those that don’t die become sub-dominant after two years. The limitations on becoming dominant are represented by the time it takes to find a mate and the maximum number of dominant wolves that can exist in the wolf area. In Scandinavia the average pack size has been around 6 animals, with an average territory that has varied between 4841894 km2 per pack.21 Usually only one couple within the pack, known as the alpha-couple, reproduce.22 Because wolves are monogamous23 and only dominant wolves reproduce, the number of breeding wolves in a large population will be small relative to the total mature population.

Figure 1: Stationary wolf population in Norway

Wolves that wander alone (no pack or territory) are called dispersers. Dispersers who subsequently become dominant and reproduce play an important role in the forming of new packs and increasing genetic diversity. Immigrating dispersers are what caused the wolf to reappear in Norway in the 1980s. In the model, dispersers are part of the sub-dominant stock. Genetic diversity is important because genetic drift may put small populations under additional stress. Genetic diversity can increase through immigration and favorable mutations, and decrease through genetic drift. Genetic drift is random fluctuation in the allelic frequency that arises from the fact that the parental alleles are distributed among a finite number of offspring. Some allelic diversity is lost through random events. In small populations this effect is stronger than the forces that increase the allelic diversity in the population. Low genetic diversity is associated with a series of problems in small populations, causing accumulation of unfavorable alleles, a reduced amount of beneficial alleles and an overall decrease of fitness, which in turn cause the fractional death rate to increase and fertility to decrease. These are possible consequences of low heterozygosity (presence of different alleles) in small populations.24 The government goal is to have three breeding pairs. Packs formed above the goal will be broken up by culling the dominant pair.25 The gap between the goal and the perceived condition is closed within a year. Culling increases the 99

The Wolf Population in Norway: Threats to Population Viability

Figure 2: Causal Loop Diagram showing important feedback loops in the system

death rate for dominant wolves, which can lead to a series of chain events in other parts of the system. A

causal loop diagram of the


wolf population

Figure 2 shows important feedback loops in the system. Reinforcing loop R1 is the loop responsible for population growth and can be simplified to mean “more wolves lead to more births; more births lead to more wolves�. As the dominant wolves become more numerous, loop B5 will start to dominate the system, which means that the environment limits further growth. However, historically, B4 has been the growth limiting loop, meaning that human interference has limited growth to an artificially low level. Loops R2 and R3 are concerned with the genetic sub-model. An increase in the dominant stock will lead to less random genetic drift and therefore higher genetic diversity, which causes an increase in the birth rate and a decrease in the death rate for young wolves. Over time, this will result in an increase in the number of dominant wolves because there are more wolves that can form pairs. To achieve population growth, the human interference loop, B4, should be weakened, and 100

the population growth loop, R1, strengthened. It is important to prevent the genetic diversity loops, R2 and R3, from creating a vicious cycle, something that can happen if the dominant stock becomes too small. To see why, consider the following. A sharp decrease in dominant wolves would cause a decrease in genetic diversity. That would again decrease births and increase the death rate for pups, which in turn will cause further decrease in the dominant stock over time. The circular causality highlights the fact that if this process is started, it is likely to repeat and amplify itself over and over again. One dramatic event could be enough to offset a series of events that eventually lead to extinction. When the population is growing however, loops R2 and R3 can potentially generate a virtuous cycle instead. B4 can cause oscillations in the system due to the delay in perceiving the number of dominant wolves, and the short adjustment time (time to close the gap). The culling decision depends on a delayed perception of the dominant wolf stock based on annual reports, and may therefore continue to cull, unaware of the full effect until the next report is received. The model The stock and flow26 structure to the left in figure 3 shows the genetic sub-model. The three stocks of social positions make up the demographic sub-model. As seen from figure 3, the genetic sub-model influences the death rate for young wolves and the average number of pups per dominant wolf. Assuming that pups with unfavorable genes die, only wolves with favorable genes move further up the aging chain. Genetic diversity is affected back by the dominant stock and migration, thus closing the loop. When the stock of dominant wolves is perceived as too large by the government, the death rate is increased by means of culling, thus decreasing the stock.

Erlend Aarsand and Torgeir Brandsar

Figure 3: SFD of the model. ▥ represents stock variables, ==> represents flow/rate variables, o represents auxiliary variables and o→o represents causality between two variables.

Model Analysis The simulated total population in figure 4 (gray line) shows behavior that is close to the actual data for the population (black line). The peaks of the oscillations correspond somewhat to the actual population data. In the beginning, the simulated population is higher than the reference mode, and after 1996 it is too low. The amplitude of oscillations after 1996 is smaller than the amplitude in reference mode. There also seems to be a phase shift between the two lines, and the frequency of oscillations is too low. The trend is correct, but part of this is caused by increases in the government goal, modeled as an exogenous factor. Even so, the model reproduces the historical data appropriately. With an R2 of 0.7, the model replicates the main aspects of the reference mode, indicating that the results of the simulation fit the observed data well. Hence the model should be useful in studying the viability of the Norwegian wolf population. When running a laboratory experiment, external validity is essential. Likewise, when using a model to analyze environmental problems, it is essential that we can trust the model to represent

the system realistically. A major benefit of using a simulation model is the ability to vary uncertain parameters and scrutinize the effects. Some parameters are not known with great certainty in the biologic and ecologic literature. These must be allowed to vary over their full range of uncertainty before conclusions are drawn. The model was run repeatedly with different parameter values in the beginning of every simulation run. The values were chosen randomly from an interval of likely upper and lower values of each parameter. These tests increased confidence in the model. The only exception is the great uncertainty related to favorable mutation rates, which makes it necessary to consider multiple scenarios where this parameter is assumed to take on high and low values. We return to this later. Model

boundaries and level of


Several variables and mechanisms are not included in the model, and some are only represented exogenously. It is important to keep these limitations in mind because the model cannot be used to explore any problems related to variables or mechanisms that were excluded. For example predator-prey dynamics, poaching, 101

The Wolf Population in Norway: Threats to Population Viability

Figure 4: comparison of reference- and simulated populations

evolution, natural selection and change in human attitudes are beyond the boundaries of this model. Policy Design and Implementation Before considering policies, a set of minimum viable population sizes must be defined. Different conditions and assumptions yield different results for what can be considered viable populations. A population viability analysis should not only consider if a population is viable under present conditions, but also how robust this viability is. This means that one takes uncertainty about the future into account.27 The population should be viable not only under current conditions, but also if additional stress on the population appears. Two scenarios were tested. In both scenarios, a high poaching magnitude is assumed. The difference between scenario one and two is the favorable mutation probability (since this is the wild card of the model). Favorable mutation rate was set to 0.06% per birth in scenario one, and to 0.03% in scenario two. Hence the heterozygosity increases respectively with 0.06% and 0.03% per birth in the two scenarios. Poaching magnitude refers to the percentage of the population that is killed as a result of poaching. A low magnitude means no poaching, and a high magnitude means that 15% of the population is killed every year. Line one in figure 5 shows scenario one, and line two shows scenario two. Poaching starts from 2013. The population survives scenario 102

one, but goes extinct with the lower mutation rate in scenario two. These two graphs demonstrate how the viability of the population under today’s culling policy depends on the mutation rate. There is great uncertainty connected to the mutation rate, and if it is smaller than the assumed 0.06%, the population can face extinction. The population is able to survive culling of up to 18% with the high mutation rate. In conclusion, the Norwegian wolf population is only viable under the current policy regime with a high favorable mutation rate and limited poaching. A more viable population can be achieved by strengthening the growth loop and weakening the anthropogenic response loop, in addition to making sure R2 and R3 work to the population’s advantage rather than disadvantage. We do not control mutation rates, and increasing the genetic diversity through artificially increasing immigration (importing wolves) would be costly and unnecessary. Nor do we control birth rates, fractional death rates, maturing time or matching time. Instead, all the desired developments laid out above can be achieved through managing the outflow from the dominant stock by way of reducing culling, thus strengthening R1- R3 and weakening B4. A control mechanism that stops or reduces culling can take the form of a threshold; if the total population is smaller than for example 100, no culling is used, thus fulfilling the suggestion made by Nilsson that hunting should be limited at low population sizes. It should be made sure that culling is not used to reduce the population below the selected threshold. Genetics (loops R2 and R3) could also be incorporated into the policy as a threshold, e.g., one could carefully choose a threshold value of heterozygosity below which no culling is permitted. However, it would not be realistic to base a policy on measuring genetic diversity. This would require great resources and include

Erlend Aarsand and Torgeir Brandsar

great uncertainty in measuring. Instead, we suggest moving away from the number of dominant wolves, basing the policy on the total population, and letting culling affect only sub-dominant wolves. Culling sub-dominants will not impede growth to the same extent as culling dominant wolves does. Culling sub-dominant wolves would result in smaller packs, rather than broken packs, which is favorable. Shooting dominant wolves will be particularly harmful to the population’s overall fitness since these are likely to be the genetically strongest individuals. The less fit the population is, the larger it needs to be if sustainability is to be achieved. By shooting the genetically weaker individuals on the other hand, fitness is kept at a higher level, making sustainability possible at smaller population sizes. The policy recommendation of this paper is to base culling decisions on the total population instead of the number of dominant wolves, and to shoot only sub-dominant wolves. The target value for the total population must be sustainable. No culling should be allowed below the target population. When the population is above the target, culling can reduce the population down to the target number. The policy was tested using the two scenarios in table 3 with the policy coming into effect in 2013, and the old one being deactivated the same year. The two first scenarios show similar development patterns as the current policy, but less rapid extinction under scenario two. In opposition to the current policy, the new policy gives a sustainable population with both mutation rates, assuming low magnitude poaching. Thus the new policy is not as sensitive to the mutation rate. If no poaching happens before 2014, the population is sustainable with a low mutation rate and high-magnitude poaching under the new policy, whereas it goes extinct under the old one. Hence a population sustainable in a 300 year perspective is reached within one year. The most sensitive period is the first year

Figure 5: scenarios one and two

that the policy is in use. In reality, some poaching could happen during this year. The new policy can handle up to 14% poaching the first year and is therefore quite robust. The suggested policy is illustrated in Figure 6. The model shows that immigration can have a large impact on viability. Even very little immigration can increase genetic diversity enough to save the population from extinction under scenario two. This is consistent with the findings of Vila, et al.28 and J. Bull, et al. However, this should be interpreted with caution because of the simplifications of genetics in the model. The smallest population that can survive with the new policy under the assumptions of low mutation and high-magnitude poaching starting in 2014, with everything else unchanged, is 26 wolves. This is the absolutely smallest number at which the population can persist. This should be considered a property of the model rather than a starting point for a new policy because of the uncertainty of parameter values, and the vulnerability of the population at this small size. Economically, the policy is almost free to implement; there are no specific economic costs tied directly to killing less wolves, but it might be indirectly expensive. We estimated the cumulative costs of policy implementation in terms of monetary compensation for killed sheep, based on a rough calculation of average number of sheep killed per wolf in 2010, and the amount compensated per sheep. By the time the system reaches a steady state, the yearly compensations will be more than 8.5 million NOK higher with 103

The Wolf Population in Norway: Threats to Population Viability

Figure 6: CLD of the new policy

the new policy, assuming that the number of sheep killed per wolf is constant. These numbers are debatable, but clearly indicate that the policy can be expensive in the long run. The policy should be organizationally feasible and require no special facilitation like new laws or constitutional amendments, but might meet some political resistance; it can be perceived as unfair to people living close to wolf areas, to sheep-owners, hunters and owners of hunting dogs. There is already resistance against wolf presence, and there is a tendency in the rural population to feel that the wolf is something that is forced upon them by decision-makers and the urban population.29 Limitations Here a more direct account for the limitations is presented. Predator-prey dynamics are not included; neither has modeling effort been dedicated to other problems that may arise in large populations. In general, one can say that the model is most useful for small populations and not appropriate for large populations. Genetics are included in a very general manner, modeled only as heterozygote advantages. This has been criticized for not allowing for a decrease of heterozygosity as a result of purging of disadvantageous alleles.30 In reality, a reduction in heterozygosity can be both favorable and unfavorable, because both favorable and unfavorable alleles are removed. However, in the model, all reductions in heterozygosity are 104

assumed to be disadvantageous. A more precise representation of the genetics can be achieved by modeling a series of co-flows with the population groups, keeping track of different kinds of genes. This would allow for incorporation of selection effects in the model, and reduce the uncertainty regarding genetics. Road kills, poaching, wolf shyness, advanced social dynamics31 and many Allee effects32 have not been included in the model. Conclusion The growth trend since the wolf reappeared in Norway has been weak, close to linear growth. By making a system dynamics model to explain the background for this problem, we found that the main reason for the weak growth is the current culling policy. The model showed that the current policy does not facilitate a robust viable population, because when tested for poaching and lower favorable mutation probability, the population went extinct. Immigration had a strong positive effect on population viability, and a small amount of immigration was enough to save the population from extinction. This is consistent with the findings of previous research. We suggest an alternative policy that will make the population more robust. We consider this reasonable because of the uncertainty of variables like favorable mutation probability, immigration, poaching and the effect of heterozygosity on the fractional birth rate. Based on the model, the following policy recommendations are made. The current culling policy should be rejected. Instead, the culling policy should: i) be based on a target total population, and ii) only cull if the total population is greater than the target total population and iii) only cull sub-dominant wolves. J. Bull, et al. arrived at similar policy recommendations with regard to culling. Potential implementation obstacles are political resistance and costs with regard to compensation for killed live-stock.

Erlend Aarsand and Torgeir Brandsar


1 Functional extinction means no reproducing population. 2 Wabakken, P., Sand, H., Liberg, O. and Bjärvall, A. (2001): “The recovery, distribution and population dynamics of wolves on the Scandinavian peninsula, 1978–1998.” Canadian Journal of Zoology 79. 3 Ibid. 4 Bull, J, E. B. Nilsen, A. Mysterud and Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2009): “Survival on the Border: A Population Model to Evaluate Management Options for Norway’s Wolves Canis Lupus.” Wildlife Biology: 412-42 5 See Liberg et al. (2005) for extreme cases where the population is founded by two individuals. 6 Wabakken, P. et al. (2001). 7 Bull, J. et al. (2009). 8 The Nature Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats (Council of Europe 2011) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (Convention on Biological Diversity 2011). 9 A model that focus on the behavior of each individual, each atom of the system rather than its aggregated sizes. 10 Bull, J. et al. 11 Nilsson, T. (2003): “Integrating effects of hunting policy, catastrophic events, and inbreeding depression, in PVA simulation: the Scandinavian wolf population as an example.” Biological Conservation 115: 227-239. 12 Shaffer, M. (1987): “Minimum viable populations: coping with uncertainty”. In Viable Population for Conservation. Cambridge University Press. 13 Courchamp, F., Berec, L. and Gascoigne, J. (2008): Allee effects in ecology and conservation. Oxford University Press. 14 Wabakken, P. et al. (2001). 15 Rovdata. Årsrapport vinteren 2000/2001, 2001/2002, 2002/2003, 2003/2004, 2004/2005, 2005/2006, 2006/2007, 2007/2008, 2008/2009, 2009/2010. (2011). 16 Wabakken, P. et al. (2001). 17 Bull, J. et al. (2009). 18 Courchamp, F. et al. (2008). 19 Pedersen, H. C. et al. (2005): “Severe inbreeding depression in a wild wolf (Canis lupus) population.” Biological letters 17-20 20 Zimen, E. (1975) “Social Dynamics of the Wolf pack” in M.W.Fox (ed.): The wild canids, their systematics, Behavioral ecology and evolution. Litton Educational Publishing. 21 Diane B Chepko-Sade & Halpin, Z. T. (1987) Mammalian dispersal patterns: the effects of social structure on population genetics. 22 Courchamp, F. et al. (2008). 23 Bull, J. et al. (2009) 24 A stock is a state variable that accumulates over time, and can only change through its inflows and outflows. A flow is a rate of change per time unit, e.g., wolves per year. 25 Shaffer, M. et al. (1987). 26 Vila, C. et al. (2002) “Rescue of a severely bottlenecked wolf (Canis lupus) population by a single immigrant.” Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 270: 91-97. 27 For discussions on human attitudes towards wolves, see Skogen (2001,) Karlsson and Sjöström (2007,) Bisi et al. (2007) and Ericsson and Heberlein (2002). Also political parties and organizations take interest in the matter, see The Norwegian Farmer’s Union (2010), Venstre (2011) and Hatlevik (2011). 28 Nilsson, T. et al. (2003). 29 Social dynamics and how this affects population viability is included in a very limited way. We know that shooting the dominant couple entails an 80% chance that the pack splits up (Bull et al. 2009). Splitting up packs will lead to a higher number of dispersers which could result in more pair formation. 30 A series of unfavorable effects that occur at small population sizes.



The EU: “Champion of Peace” and Land Grab Facilitator

Mikael Bergius

Despite being perceived by the Nobel Committee as a “champion of peace” which pursues global stability, the European Union (EU) is, through its policies, a major cause of instability around the world. On its website, the EU states that to promote development and maintain peace one must address the fundamental causes of conflict, such as poverty and food insecurity. Under the heading ‘land policy’, it underlines, among other things, that secure land rights and protection against land grabbing are important components to address these fundamental causes of conflict.1 The paradox however is that as a direct consequence of EU directives the causes of conflict are not resolved, but amplified through the process of land grabbing. Photo: Mikael Bergius

To reduce its impact on climate change the EU in 2006 set a target which aims at a mandatory 10% proportion of the energy mix in the transportation sector to come from renewable sources (read agrofuels)2 by 2020.3 This move ensured a guaranteed market for agrofuels in Europe, and was a direct incentive for multinational companies and private financial institutions to secure access to land. Investments in land have traditionally been unattractive because of political instability in many recipient countries and low short-term returns. However, as a direct consequence of EU directives and various economic incentives on both the production and consumption sides, this has changed, and land has become a strategically important field 107

EU: “Champion of Peace” and Land Grab Facilitator

for agrofuel investors. This is especially the case in Africa, where according to The Land Matrix we find approximately 62% of all international land deals. These deals cover a total area of about 56.2 million hectares.4 Add to this the fact that approximately 70% of the population in SubSaharan Africa live in rural areas and depend directly on access to land for their livelihoods, and it becomes easy to see that large-scale land

other words, land, which at first glance appears to be idle, forms an important component of local livelihoods and food security. Furthermore, although investments may not be in direct conflict with food production, food security may still be an issue as local small-scale farmers reprioritize their labor. Instead of producing food on their own farms, many go to work on the plantations established in the area in the search

Investors turn towards the African continent to fuel European needs for climate friendly energy.

investments in these areas will have a direct, often severely negative impact on the rural population. Meanwhile, legitimized through climate change policies, the EU is directly pushing for such investments. Due to lack of available agricultural land in Europe, investors turn towards the African continent to fuel European needs for climate friendly energy. This turn is based on perceptions of an African continent with vast amounts of idle land open for investments. However, such perceptions paint an incomplete picture of Africa, and demonstrate a limited understanding of local resource use. Research in recent years confirms that rural communities are at great risk from large-scale land investments for agrofuel production.5 The “development dream” suddenly turns into a nightmare when countries and rural communities hand over the responsibility for their future prosperity and development to foreign companies. In one investment project by the British firm Sun Biofuels in Tanzania, people living in villages surrounding the investment area ended up with fewer resources, more expenses, and lost access to essential common goods such as water, grass, and forest products. In the hope of improving their livelihoods, poor communities were convinced by Sun Biofuels to give up their land, only to find themselves with a tremendous loss some time into the project.6 In 108

of a more secure and predictable future. However, with low wages and increased expenditures on food and other products that farmers previously could get from their land, the experience instead suggests increased poverty and vulnerability.7 Food insecurity is not about production levels, but rather distribution mechanisms for food, and the means of production.8 Social instability thus manifests itself through insecure access to food and to means of production, such as land. This was evidently observed in the wake of the food crisis in 2007-2008, when protests and riots broke out in 48 different countries, or during the record-high food prices in early 2011, which was one of the driving forces for the wave of protests in North Africa and the Middle East. We will probably not see similar riots as a consequence of the current land grabbing trend in Africa, simply because the people most heavily affected are often the poorest of the poor, and are forced to spend their time differently. Nevertheless, we witness growing dissatisfaction and anger towards private European investors’ behavior in rural Africa, and internal conflicts grow as a result of what is described as the reincarnation of the colonial economy. 9 In this the EU’s role is central. Agrofuels are promoted by the EU as an important element towards a “greener” and more

Mikael Bergius

sustainable future.10 Yet, research indicates that the current expansion of agrofuels in Africa is likely to intensify climate change. Taking the whole production chain into account, production of agrofuels is estimated to increase rather than decrease greenhouse gas emissions.11 Thus, despite being touted as an element of sustainable development by the EU, agrofuels are a false solution to climate change and are in fact only providing a “green cover” for the current destabilizing land grabs in Africa.12 An agrofuel-subsidizing Europe is hiding behind a misguided win-win-win rhetoric. Within this, private investors make money and the environment is saved, while modern development is “brought” to African communities. The eco-

logical crisis has, in other words, through EU directives been turned into a new frontier for profit seeking investors in which environmentally friendly development is perceived to be an automatic appendage. However, in reality, we witness a win-lose-lose project where investors earn their profits, while benefits to the environment and local populations fail to materialize. The current trend of grabbing the most valuable resource from the rural poor is producing poverty and food insecurity, and thus enhances the fundamental causes of conflict highlighted by the EU itself. Instead of acting as a global “champion of peace”, the EU is planting the seeds of more unjust and unstable societies in the future.


1 European Commission, Intervention Areas, index_en.htm (accessed October 27, 2012) 2 The term refers to fuels produced from food and oil crops produced in large-scale industrial plantations. 3 European Commission (2006): “Communication from the Commission to the council and the European Parliament. Renewable Energy Road Map. Renewable Energies in the 21st Century: building a more sustainable future.” Brussels: COM. 4 Anseeuw, W. et al. (2012): “Transnational Land Deals for Agriculture in the Global South – Analytical Report based on the Land Matrix Database.” Bern/Montpellier/Hamburg: CDE/CIRAD/GIGA. 5 See for instance: Prosper B. Matondi, Kjell Havnevik, and Atakilte Beyene, (eds.) (2011): Biofuels, Land Grabbing and Food Security in Africa. Uppsala/London/New York: Zed Books; Mousseau, F. et al. (2011): “Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa – Country Report: Tanzania.” The Oakland Institute or Sulle, E. (2009): “Biofuels, Land Access and Rural Livelihoods in Tanzania.” IIED. 6 Bergius, M. (2012): “Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa – Tanzanian Villagers Pay For Sun Biofuels Investment Disaster.” The Oakland Institute. 7 Ibid. 8 See for instance: Sen, A. (1983): Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 9 Bergius, M. (2012): “Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa – Tanzanian Villagers Pay For Sun Biofuels Investment Disaster.” The Oakland Institute. 10 European Commission. (2006): “Communication from the Commission to the council and the European Parliament. Renewable Energy Road Map. Renewable Energies in the 21st Century: building a more sustainable future.” Brussels: COM. 11 See for instance: Fargione, J et al. (2008): “Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt.” Science. 319(5867): 1235-1238 and Romijn, H. A. (2012): “Land clearing and greenhouse gas emissions from Jatropha biofuels on African Miombo Woodlands.” Energy Policy. 39” 5751-5762. 12 The Oakland Institute (2011): “Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa – The Role of False Climate Change Solutions.” The Oakland Institute. 109

About the Contributors Erlend Aarsand is majoring in Systems Dynamics at the University of Bergen, specializing in natural resource management. He has a background in comparative politics and in-depth studies of environmental issues. Mikael Bergius pursues a Masters degree in International Environmental Studies at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) in Ås, and has a background in development studies from the University of Agder in Norway and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. He is also a fellow of the Oakland Institute. Contact: Nils Harley Boisen er WWF-Norges rådgiver for Arktis og nordområdene. Han har mastergrad i økologi og naturforvaltning fra universitetet for miljø og biovitenskap (UMB). Nils brenner for miljø og bevaring av biologisk mangfold, økosystemtjenester, og bemyndiggjøring av lokalsamfunn som er direkte avhengige av naturens ressurser. Nils har blant annet jobbet i Tanzania og Alaska. Torgeir Brandsar is majoring in System Dynamics at the University of Bergen, with a specialization in natural resource management. He has previously studied agent-based modeling. Lawrence Buell is Powell M. Cabot Research Professor of American Literature at Harvard University. His books include The Environmental Imagination (1995), Writing for an Endangered World (2001), Emerson (2003), and The Future of Environmental Criticism (2005). Elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2008, he has held fellowships from the Mellon and Guggenheim Foundations and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2007 he received the Modern Language Association’s Jay Hubbell Award for lifetime contributions to American Literature scholarship. Sari Cunningham is a Master’s student in Ecology at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, where she is researching area use of the female Eurasian kestrel (Falco tinnunculus).  She has taken coursework at the University Centre in Svalbard, and currently works as a language consultant. She can be contacted at Ragnhild Freng Dale is an anthropology graduate from University College London, currently planning to carry out fieldwork on resource extraction and environmental change in the Canadian Arctic. Her theatre company, Iodine teater, makes work centred on environmental change through physical theatre and storytelling. She is also a member of The Occupied Times of London’s editorial team. Sébastien Duyck, LL.M., is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Northern Institute of Environmental and Minority Law, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland.


David Pettersen Eidsvoll has a MSc in Toxicology from 2011, studying the impact of oil exposure on the marine environment; he is currently a student at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. He can be contacted at Lena Gross is a research fellow and PhD candidate at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. In her PhD project she looks into the local articulations of the financial, social and environmental crises in the Alberta oil sands industry, Canada. Her research is a part of the ‘Overheating’ research project led by professor T.H. Eriksen. Leif Christian Jensen is a Research Fellow at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI). He is a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Tromsø. He submitted his doctoral thesis, a socially oriented discourse analysis of Norwegian foreign policy in the European Arctic in summer 2012. Leif Christian Jensen has published peer reviewed books and articles on Norwegian domestic and foreign policy discourses. Kathrin Keil is currently a PhD Candidate at the Berlin Graduate School for Transnational Studies (BTS) at Freie Universität Berlin. She is writing her dissertation on the international politics of the Arctic, with a focus on international regimes and institutions in the areas of energy, shipping and fishing. Kathrin is also the Europe Director of the Arctic Institute, an international network of scholars providing interdisciplinary information and in-depth analysis about the developments in the Arctic region. Berit Kristoffersen is a research fellow and PhD-candidate in political science at University of Tromsø. Her research project is on environmental security debates in Norway, in the context of state and industry strategies for petroleum development in Arctic territories. She focuses especially on the ongoing negotiation of whether to open Lofoten and Vesterålen for petroleum development. Hanna E. Marcussen is national spokesperson for the Norwegian Green Party - Miljøpartiet De Grønne. Aubrey Jane Roberts is a Master’s student in Evolutionary Biology at University of Oslo Natural History Museum. Her thesis is on a new species of ichthyosaur from the Upper Jurassic of Spitsbergen. She took her Bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Oslo and the University Center in Svalbard (UNIS). Eivind Trædal is a Master’s student in the Culture, Environment and Sustainability program at SUM and a member of the Tvergastein Board of Editors. Rasmus Sandvoll Weschke is a MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He was a student fellow at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in the summer of 2012.


Tvergastein is grateful for all the help and support of

The Arne NĂŚss Chair

and LEVE

Tvergastein - Issue #2 ‘The Opening of the Arctic’  

In this edition we focus on ‘The Opening of the Arctic’ with a diverse range of articles addressing many questions that are seldom talked ab...

Tvergastein - Issue #2 ‘The Opening of the Arctic’  

In this edition we focus on ‘The Opening of the Arctic’ with a diverse range of articles addressing many questions that are seldom talked ab...