The Arctic Policy Framework and Beyond: The UK as a Polar Actor

Peer Reviewed

Dodds K, & Powell RC

RUSI Newsbrief, 2013

In October, the UK government released its Arctic Policy Framework after more than a year of considerable parliamentary examination of UK policies, both existing and future. At the heart of this scrutiny was the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), chaired by Labour MP Joan Walley, which has overseen a series of investigations into the relationship between commercial exploitation in the Arctic region and plans to limit global climate change to an increase in temperature of 2°C. In July, the EAC accused the government of ‘failing to grasp the urgency of protecting the Arctic’ and committee hearings were punctuated by sharp exchanges between Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Mark Simmonds and parliamentary members of the EAC. The chair of the committee was even quoted as noting that, ‘What happens in the Arctic will affect the UK, impacting our weather systems and biodiversity. Yet this Government is complacently standing by and watching new oil and gas drilling even though companies like Shell cannot prove they can drill safely in such harsh conditions’.

Keywords: Polar geopolitics, United Kingdom
Categories: Arctic, Social Science