Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 96

96 Arctic Yearbook 2015 Young (2013: 147) notes that in subsequent years since the U.S. became “a laggard in the realm of environmental governance … [and] has emerged as a stumbling block for those working to enhance environmental governance.” The U.S. has not ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea nor the Kyoto Protocol. On the other hand, it would appear that as Young (2013: 162) suggests, “Increasingly, success in the creation and administration of these regimes will require the cultivation of coalitions among the public sector, private sector, and civil society,” a trend that has gained significant momentum in light of numerous economic reports such as the 2006 Stern Report, that provided an unsettling account of the costs of climate change. “The solution for our energy problems is going to be corporate America, that is actually private enterprise,” said Tom Steyer, founder and former CEO of the hedge fund Farallon Capital Management, “that’s when we get the policy framework right the people in that sphere will come up with creative, imaginative and innovative solutions that will blow our mind.” Steyer has invested $65 million to launch renewable energy centers at Yale and Stanford (Bloomberg 2014). The market would seem to concur. Where cheap oil is thought to be a threat to renewable energies Citibank reports, “Fundamental factors—increasing economic competitiveness, energy security, and environmental goals—all remain potent forces driving ever more rapid adoption of renewable energy globally” (Parkinson 2015). Reporting on the 2015 Bloomberg New Energy Finance summit Bloomberg business said “The question is no longer if the world will transition to cleaner energy, but how long it will take” (Randall 2015). These examples and others suggest that global markets are undergoing a transformational shift, redirecting capital toward the development and consumption of sustainable renewable heating and power sources. Still, the pace at which renewables are developed will depend on numerous factors. In 2013, for example, lower system costs and policy uncertainty precipitated a decline in investment. Yet “new financing structures provided low-cost financing through capital markets” and net investment into added renewable power capacity continued to trend upward outpacing fossil fuels (Renewable Energy 2014: 25). In 2012, renewable energy was an estimated 19% of global consumption, 9% of which was traditional biomass (Renewable Energy 2014: 21), 40% of which utilizes modern bioenergy technology and methods. Conclusion The extent to which environmental protection of the Arctic region has evolved is often a condition of extreme circumstance. Emerging from the Cold War years was a glum picture of how extreme geopolitical differences could wreak havoc on a region whose people had no part in the destruction of the environment. Likewise, today the visual depictions of a melting cryosphere has brought heightened awareness to the Arctic as a region where the human race has once again debased the environment, this time as a condition of industrialization. Black carbon is but one of the vast number of issues that government must address in order to make progress toward an environmental sustainability future. In this regard, the Arctic Council has set the stage through scientific evidence and guiding principles, but institutional limitations preclude enforceable procedures. Consequently, the capacity for effectiveness relies on the desire of nations, writ large, to provide the strategy and structure capable of promoting and supporting a transition to environmentally friendly practices. Arctic Council Environmental Initiatives