Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 387

387 Arctic Yearbook 2014   prevailing market and regulatory conditions.’ Regulatory frameworks will be set first and foremost by the states in whose jurisdiction the activity occurs. However, the UK will give advice where asked and will press for ‘the highest environmental and drilling standards in the Arctic, as elsewhere’ (an implicit reference to expertise gained in the North Sea). It will support stronger anti-pollution standards for shipping in the Arctic – within the IMO framework – ‘where scientific evidence demonstrates’ a practical need for this. Future Arctic fisheries should be handled on a precautionary principle, with especial prudence where the prospects for a given stock are not clear: decisions should be taken (in the UK’s case, through the EU) on scientific evidence and with a view to sustainability. The section ends with another page of case-studies on British inputs to climate science, mentioning among others UK expertise on ice observation and the study of ocean circulation, and UK leadership in the EU’s forthcoming ICEARC research project. While prosaically expressed without talk of extreme climate scenarios (or indeed, of existing and ongoing environmental damage), this section situates the UK in a responsible European mainstream as regards the mitigation of climate change and concern for biodiversity. It implies support for further regulation of Arctic shipping (a topic currently on the table in the IMO) and for prudent management of new Arctic fisheries, where EU documents have mooted a moratorium.36 Again, there is a marked emphasis on science; but this also implies reservations about more extreme conservationist positions not backed by specific evidence of environmental risk. Critics of the document’s pro-business bias could point, further, to the laisser-faire tone of the reference to business development, which by emphasizing national jurisdiction seems to be coming down against new international rules – even of a business-generated and voluntary nature.37 Commercial Dimension The statement that decisions on business development will be taken by companies themselves, and that regulation will be provided nationally, is repeated twice more on the first page of this section. The UK’s approach is defined as ‘to support legitimate and responsible business activity’, since ‘people in the Arctic, as elsewhere, have a right to pursue economic prosperity’. Companies should be encouraged to discuss the issues themselves with the AC and other stakeholders, and a case-study explains how a UK-based firm has worked with local reindeerherders while developing a mining project on the far North of Finland. The document then identifies energy, shipping, tourism, fisheries, and (more unusually) bioprospecting as key commercial sectors. The energy page reduces to a single argument: that the world, including the UK, will need more gas imports in future, so the UK should support further Norwegian production in the High North (and help finance new infrastructure connections, as necessary). On shipping, the UK strongly supports taking any necessary measures within the IMO and on the basis of UNCLOS, and rejects any ‘fundamental changes to existing regimes’. The UK hopes that its ports, shipping companies and ‘maritime cluster’ can share in any profits from new Arctic shipping routes, and the government will consider whether to do or propose anything particular in this context. As for safety and environmental risks linked with shipping, the UK ‘will play a leading role in the development of the mandatory Polar Code’ – actually scheduled for discussion at the IMO in 2014 – ‘so as to ensure it comprehensively addresses safety and environmental issues, and press for its early adoption’. Here the document does finally The Arctic’s Nearest Neighbour