The policy document

The final policy document is a fairly short text - a total of eight pages including the cover page. It starts with a short description of what the Arctic Council is and its role in relation to climate change. This is followed by the parts of the Ministerial Declaration connected to the ACIA and a backgrounder that is extracted from the Senior Arctic Officials' Report to the Ministers. At the onset, the text is placed in relation to the UNFCCC and previous Arctic Council ministerial declarations rather than other multilateral agreements or international regimes:

The Arctic Council Member States are committed to exercising leadership within the Arctic and globally to address the sources and multiple Arctic impacts and consequences of climate change and ultraviolet radiation, in accordance with the UNFCCC, as well as the Barrow and Inari Arctic Council Ministerial declara-tions.215

As a negotiated policy text, the style is quite different from the other two documents from the ACIA process but it is similar to earlier Arctic Council Ministerial declara

209 Interviews 10 and 64.

210 Interview 29.

211 Interviews 59, 61, and 71 and the US Statement on Policy Document, distributed at the Policy Drafting Group Meeting in London October 2003, with copies distributed at the Assessment Integrations Team meeting October, 14, 2003.

212 Interviews 61, 63, and 64.

213 Several interview accounts point to the importance to not go below what had been achieved at the global level or to try to push the global agenda forward (e.g. 63 and 64)

214 Interview 59.

215 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Policy Document. Issued by the Fourth Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting Reykjavik 24 November 2004.

tions. For example, it states that the ministers "Welcome with appreciation the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) and the scientific work completed in evaluating and synthesizing knowledge on climate variability and change and increased ultraviolet radiation in the Arctic." The document clearly separates science and policy. For example, the background text stresses that responsibility for the final synthesis and scientific documents is with the authors. Moreover, the Ministerial Declaration emphasizes that the scientific findings are only part of what makes policy, as illustrated by the following statement:

Note the findings of the ACIA with respect to climate change and acknowledge that such findings, as well as the underlying scientific assessment, will help inform governments as they implement and consider future policies on global climate change,

Thus there is an expressed distancing that sets limits on the degree that scientific knowledge can influence policy decisions. Such boundary work illustrates how political actors assert their authority over the policy sphere and needed to do so explicitly. This provides an interesting contrast to the calls for more scientific knowledge before political decisions can be made.

The ministers make no specific commitments other than to promote global, national, and local awareness of the ACIA and any follow-up activities through appropriate outreach activities. Thus, they only "[a]cknowledge the need to consider the findings ... in implementing their commitments under the UNFCCC and other agreements, including through adoption of climate change mitigation strategies across relevant sectors." Moreover, rather than agreeing to any specific action in relation to adaptation, the ministers "[e]ncourage member States to adapt and manage the environmental, economic and social impacts ." In spite of the overall declaration of exercising leadership, this indicates that the Arctic Council was not ready to commit to an active role of its own in either adaptation or mitigation but placed the authority over these issues to the national level and with other international bodies as more appropriate arenas.

The background text extends a few more words on mitigation but the basic message is the same; placing responsibility with the member states and their commitments under the UNFCCC and other agreements. The Kyoto Protocol is not mentioned. On a general level, the text raises the issue that "there are important mitigation efforts in the region that would contribute to sustainable development and global emission reduction efforts." The text also alludes to the member states' disproportionate share of the total global greenhouse gas emissions in a stage-setting paragraph for recommendations on mitigation efforts. The mitigation efforts mentioned include US initiatives on the International Partnership for Hydrogen Economy as well as carbon sinks. In spite of these references to on-going efforts, the commitment is much weaker than in earlier Ministerial declarations relating to other environmental issues, which features language such as "we are committed to deal with," "we therefore fully support," "we call for full implementation, and "we agree to work vigorously for early completion and implementation of a protocol on the elimination and reduction of persistent organic pollutants .. ,"216

216 Quotes from Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy Alta Ministerial Declaration June 13, 1997.

A key question for a scientific assessment is whether it will become part of an on-going process or whether it will be a one-time effort. At the joint meeting of the AMAP Working Group and CAFF Working Group in April 2004, the ACIA chair wanted to discuss the continuation of the ACIA but this was met with reluctance because of the political sensitivities that had surfaced during the policy process.217 Within the Ministerial Declaration the commitment to continue is weak. The ministers merely "[e]ncourage relevant national and international research bodies and sponsors to take into account the ACIA science recommendations in planning, development and implementation of their programmes." The report from the Senior Arctic Officials goes a bit further by stressing the importance to intensify research on impacts and adaptation and by recommending that the ministers "[s]eek to expand and link circumpolar research and monitoring networks" and to "[r]ecognize the need to consider how to conduct further studies of climate change" including specific highlights on variability, socioeconomic impacts, vulnerabilities, modeling and the use of long-term data. There are also directives to Arctic Council working groups to "keep under review the need for an updated assessment" and to the Senior Arctic Officials to nominate a focal point to be responsible for ACIA follow-up.

During the policy process, the Permanent Participants pushed for the inclusion of text that would highlight the special role of the Arctic and the vulnerability of indigenous peoples in a global policy context, similar to the preamble to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.218 The ACIA final policy document does not go as far but does recognize "that the Arctic climate is a critical component of the global climate system with worldwide implications."

The policy document does not emphasize the role of indigenous people as much as the scientific and overview reports. Rather it often refers to Arctic residents, which one could see as a shift in emphasis. In a word count, the proportion of indigenous to residents is 1.2:1 in the policy document compared to 4.7:1 in the scientific report and 9:1 in the overview document and in the London draft it was 1.6:1. The word peoples in the policy document is accompanied by a footnote indicating that "[t]he United States notes that the use of the term 'peoples' shall not be construed as having any implications as regards to the rights which may attach to the term under international law." This further emphasizes the assumption from the negotiators of the document that the member states are the appropriate actors.

To summarize, in the policy document member states assert their authority over climate policy, while the role of the Arctic Council is downplayed in relation to the UNFCCC. The only solid commitment made is to promote awareness.

217 Minutes of the 18th Meeting of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) Working Group. Oslo, Norway, 14-16 April 2004, including Annex 7: Minutes of the 3rd Joint AMAP/CAFF meeting, Oslo, Norway, 15-16 April 2004. AMAP Report 2004:1; Powerpoint presentation by Robert Corell: Status, Progress, and Next Steps For the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA). Oslo, Norway April 14-16, 2004; Interview 26.

218 E.g. "Acknowledging that the Arctic ecosystem and indigenous communities are particularly at risk because of biomagnification of persistent organic pollutants and that contamination of their traditional foods is a public health issue." Extract from Preamble of Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

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