Accepted Paper:

Responsibility to drill or not to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean? The translation of techno-scientific uncertainty into political power, then and now  


Justiina Dahl (KTH Royal institute of Technology)

Paper short abstract:

The 21st century has witnessed the rise of an expectation of increase in human activity in the Arctic. This presentation illustrates how this horizon of expectation consists of two incompatible interpretations of the relationship between science, technology and the environment in global governance.

Paper long abstract:

Techno-scientific development, increased natural resource use and the progress of human induced global warming have led to the expectation of increased human activity in the Arctic in the future. This growth in international interest to future opportunities and challenges in the North has been complimented with a discussion of the feasibility of the existing governance structure to respond to these new pressures. This discussion has taken place thought the adoption of new national Arctic policies as well as public and academic debates. In these materials two competing narrative horizons of expectation for the expanded human activity in and materiality of the Arctic in the future have emerged. One reviews the progress of anthropogenic global warming as positive for the region because it opens up new opportunities for oil and gas exploration as well as shipping in the region. The other highlights how new problems for already existing human activity and settlement in the region are bound to arise from climate change. Unlike the first one, this narration does not discuss the spatial and climatic changes in the Arctic in separation from those in the rest of the globe. This paper studies the experts, sciences and technologies used in the construction of these horizons of expectation in the new Arctic policies of Norway, Russia and Canada in the light of historical developments. It uses these cases to forward a new analytical distinction and argument between 'international system conserving' and 'international system reforming' epistemic communities in multilateral global governance.

Panel D01
Politicizing futures. When conflicting visions meet