Sustainable Development

  • It is also important to remember that Arctic states such as Russia, Norway, Denmark, Canada and the U.S. are not ignorant to the commercial opportunities that climate change in the region brings with it. The idea of ‘sustainable development’ is also a very active and pursued policy. Along with environmental protection, energy (mostly oil and gas), natural resources such as fish, and commercial shipping are also on the Arctic states’ top agenda.
  • Countries such as Norway and Russia depend heavily on revenues from their large oil and gas sectors, which include exploration and production activities in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, both on and off shore. According to Statistics Norway, oil and gas is the country’s largest export market, worth more than USD$60.5 billion annually.
  • In 2012, the petroleum sector represented more than 23 per cent of the country’s total value creation, crucial for its sovereign wealth fund, which is the largest of its kind and valued at almost $900 billion. While countries such as Norway may not be big consumers of oil themselves and, in fact, are pioneers in renewable energy, a significant portion of their wealth is still based on the sale of hydrocarbon products.
  • The Copenhagen summit’s failure gave countries such as India the option of developing Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), or, in other words, voluntary national targets for controlling carbon emissions. These are rumoured to be only legally binding for developed nations, and not the developing. This allows Delhi to attempt to reach targets on CO{-2}emissions that it can set itself, giving it control, and allowing it perhaps to rely more on realism, navigating the big moral pressures of national climate change policies.
  • While the acceptance of INDCs is a much-criticised policy by Europe, it offers India security. India needs to control the fate of its developing economy, which, for example, has challenges such as providing more than 300 million people with electricity.
  • The INDC route, probably more importantly, allows India time to build systems at home to implement a legally binding climate framework in the future, systems it currently does not have. Unless such systems are first developed, an international legally binding climate treaty could become hugely problematic for the country’s economy.