Stringent policy responses to new ocean threats? Arctic warming, maritime industries, and international environmental regulation

Item Type Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)

The poster studies international regulatory responses to new threats that growing maritime industrial activities in a warming Arctic pose to the ocean environment. Climate change accelerates the melting of Arctic Ocean ice, making the area more accessible to the maritime industries of shipping and offshore oil & gas production. These industrial operations can have negative external effects on this ecologically vulnerable region.

The poster investigates how states have responded to such threats. It assesses and compares the stringency of international environmental regulations of maritime industries in the Arctic from a political science perspective. While some observers are comfortable with recent policy advances such as the IMO Polar Code for shipping and the Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Guidelines, others point to persisting gaps in regulatory stringency.

Theoretically, the poster builds on a novel concept of regulatory stringency. Stringency is defined as the product of the formal tightness and substantive ambition of a regulation. Tightness refers to legality, precision, monitoring and enforcement. Ambition includes changes in scope and in requirement levels from temporal and global perspectives. Stringency is operationalized through a two-tiered, multi-dimensional index.

Empirically, the poster presents a stringency database on all international environmental regulations that have partly or wholly covered the Arctic maritime sector from 1950 to 2017. Regulatory stringency is compared across the shipping and oil & gas industries, international regulators (International Maritime Organization, Arctic Council, OSPAR Commission, etc.), external effects, and time.

The analysis shows that Arctic warming has been accompanied by increased regulatory activity to address environmental impacts of maritime industries. However, the stringency of these regulations is found to vary considerably across regulatory bodies. Regulations developed by the IMO and the OSPAR Commission have generally been more stringent than Arctic Council standards. Moreover, several regulatory gaps persist, including air pollution from ships and operational discharges from offshore oil & gas installations outside the OSPAR region.

These findings can guide future international relations research on drivers of stringent regulation and its effects. They also speak to research in other disciplines, including international law, economics, and environmental sciences. Finally, policymakers from both Arctic and non-Arctic states can use the findings to identify regulatory gaps as well as blueprints for more stringent regulations in a warming and threatened Arctic Ocean.

Authors Hofmann, Benjamin
Language English
Subjects political science
Institute/School ?? Inst IPW JD ??
IPW - Institute for Political Science
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
Date 11 September 2017
Event Title Swiss Polar Institute Conference: High Altitudes meet High Latitudes - Globalizing Polar Issues
Event Location Crans-Montana
Event Dates 11.-12.09.2017
Depositing User Benjamin Hofmann
Date Deposited 11 Sep 2017 12:22
Last Modified 19 Jan 2018 11:56


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Hofmann, Benjamin: Stringent policy responses to new ocean threats? Arctic warming, maritime industries, and international environmental regulation. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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