An Evaluation of Oil Pollution Prevention Strategies in the Arctic
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Climate change is profoundly impacting the Arctic and increasing accessibility to new resources and uses. Average temperatures in the region continue to rise and observations of sea ice loss through 2012 outstripped the most pessimistic scientific projections (Snow and Ice Data Center, 2013). If the current rate of sea ice loss is sustained, the Arctic could experience an “ice free” summer within the 21st century (Laidre, et al., 2015). The Arctic is often described as a cohesive region of states, however there is great regime diversity among them. Given this reality, what explains regime diversity in the Arctic? How is rapid climate change influencing emerging approaches to environmental governance and management? Recognizing the Arctic regime as the intersection of many overlapping governance systems, this research compares two national approaches: the Northwest Passage region of Canada and the Bering Strait region of the United States. The paper explores the similarities and differences between the two governance regimes' pollution prevention and response mechanisms and investigates the relationship between prevention and response exhibited in each regime especially in regard to adaptation to threats posed by climate change. Findings characterize the Canadian regime as more preventative and the U.S. regime as more responsive. Findings illustrate that states with greater legal authority and sovereign rights are able to exceed generally accepted international standards and offer a more preventative framework. Likewise, states that strongly tie regional and national identities to unique environments may be more likely to enact measures that will protect those environments from degradation.
- Marine affairs