Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 94

94 Arctic Yearbook 2015 I have cited within, strongly suggest that an ongoing cycle of fossil fuel dependency is the bane of sustainable environmental protection. That said the limits of the Arctic Council, as well as national and international bodies are not inconsequential. Although I have not addressed the specific needs of Arctic indigenous peoples, the desire for economic development through responsible non-renewable resource development may be without recourse if suitable options are not available. To avail ourselves of a broad understanding of environmental governance potential, Young (2013: 2) comments that the human-environmental interaction is key. The environment is not governed, but rather “What we can aspire to manage, or more generally, govern are human beings.” In this examination of environmental governance solving for complexity – collective action problems, multilevel and cross-sector interactions, and governance for times of turbulence – demonstrates the sheer breadth of multi-level engagement required to overcome the challenges of global climate change embedded with the rapid acceleration of Arctic change. At all levels, from the local to the global, the process is highly political fraught with impediments from policy inaction, a disconnect between those that create environmental problems and those most affected, to matters of compliance. Knowing this, solving for what is viewed as particularly daunting – “climate change presents a stiff problem” – Young (2013: 153) makes the case for identifying specific features and “devising regimes that fit the essential features of the problems at hand, thereby maximizing the chances of success in problem solving.” Specific to how Arctic governance functions, Koivurova (2012: 31) notes that the AC “has mainly served as a platform for Arctic actors to discuss Arctic policy issues, with occasional soft-guidance documents adopted… Overall, however, the AC was developed for a region that requires a minimum of governance.” Yet, Arctic warming and increased economic interest have compelled AC member states to develop initiatives that take on aspects of regulatory frameworks including the legally-binding Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic (2011), and Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution, Preparedness and Response in the Arctic (2013). As Koivurova (2014) remarks “This view of the importance of treaties is, of course, very comforting for international lawyers: when things get serious, international legal instruments, treaties, are needed.” On the other hand, because the AC is a non-treaty-based forum it has allowed for “soft-law cooperation [that] enables better participation by the region’s actors,” and decision making ultimately guided by the eight sovereign nation-states. Thus, to understand how the human-environmental interaction will be governed for future developments we need to consider inter-state cooperation and the role of individual state members (Koivurova 2014). On the part of the U.S., climate change, the role of renewable energy development and black carbon emission reductions are a priority of the U.S. Arctic Council chairmanship, as well as a national imperative. Concurrently, The Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region (2015) upholds its interests in national energy security, which includes development of non-renewable energy sources, and underscores the importance of Alaska as a strategic partner in fulfilling the Arctic agenda. Given the duality of governing for the present and accounting for the future, it may be necessary to understand U.S. initiatives in this light. At the same time, Young (2013: 147) notes that the U.S. “has emerged as a stumbling block for those working to enhance environmental governance” at the UN. These are the breadth of issues that must be considered when assessing U.S. intentions. Arctic Council Environmental Initiatives