Adapting to a Changing World: The United States, Climate Change, and the Arctic Maritime Commons   [open pdf - 3MB]

"Driven by climate change in the Arctic a new maritime commons is emerging. The summer of 2007 brought the opening of the fabled Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Islands and accessibility to non-ice hardened ships. Within the next 20 years, the entire Arctic will likely be entirely ice free during the summer, opening new ocean transport routes and access to potentially 25 percent of the world's remaining undiscovered oil and natural gas reserves. These changes will reshape both the global transport system and the world energy market, raising the specter of tension and conflict in the Arctic. With the Arctic region opening, nations are rushing to lay claim to its maritime energy resources. […]. The contest for resources and flow of trade will require that the United States, in conjunction with its allies, act to ensure access and security in the Arctic region. The present arrangement of three combatant commanders having responsibility in the Arctic will not promote efficient operations in the region in response to a re-emerging Russia. To maintain its leadership position, the United States must adapt to changes in the Arctic and the political contest it brings. It must participate in pivotal international treaties and ratify UNCLOS. To facilitate responsive operations in the Arctic, the United States must create a unique inter-agency command and control structure that will provide presence, serve as a credible deterrent against Russia and ensure the uninterrupted flow of goods and oil."

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