The World Above 1.5°C: Flooding Disasters from Libya to Hong Kong

Global temperatures have slightly decreased after a  summer with 36 consecutive days above any previous record, a phenomenon not seen in at least 125,000 years. However, the two consecutive months above 1.5C provided a... READ MORE

Polar Tipping Points Hub in WEF Global Collaboration Village

This week, the Polar Tipping Points Hub was launched in the Global Collaboration Village, a metaverse built by the World Economic Forum in partnership with Accenture and Microsoft, with scientific support from Arctic... READ MORE

Arctic Basecamp Plays Significant Role in New Polar Metaverse by World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum (WEF) launched the Polar Tipping Points Hub, a groundbreaking virtual reality experience in collaboration with Accenture and Microsoft, yesterday at UN Climate Week in New York... READ MORE

Mind-blowing alarm bells need to be ringing: Antarctica’s ice remains well-below any previous record

“Almost mind-blowing.” That’s how Walter Meier of the NSIDC describes the records Antarctica has set this year.... READ MORE

A rare northern hurricane continues to make records

Hurricane Lee is preparing to slam into northern New England and the Canadian... READ MORE

COUNTDOWN

CO2 Budget Depletion

UN SUSTAINABILITY DEVELOPMENT GOALS

SDG 16 - PEACE, JUSTICE & STRONG INSTITUTIONS

 

As it is warming 4 times faster than the global average, the Arctic is a new hotspot for geopolitical tension. Global nations are racing to claim the Arctic’s natural resources and territories as access increases due to melt. In this process, those who rely on the resources and lands, such as Sámi reindeer herders and Inuit hunters, are forced to look elsewhere for livelihoods. 

GLOBAL

Arctic change has global ripple effects that disproportionately affect climate-vulnerable regions across the tropics. One example is the melting Arctic glaciers that lead to sea level rise, threatening to permanently inundate Pacific Island nations such as Kiribati and Vanuatu (Earth.org, 2020). Communal and gender-based violence spikes when households and communities are confronted with conflicts caused by limited resources and displacement, both of which can result from climate change. 

ARCTIC

Arctic change amplifies existing conflict and drives geopolitical tension in the region, for example, through increasing competition over access to natural resources and new shipping routes. As the Arctic melts, nations – Arctic and non-Arctic alike – are racing to claim newly accessible natural resources, strategic geographic position, and unclaimed territories (Gross, 2020). Russia and China are deepening their collaboration by establishing a global transport corridor through the Northern Sea Route, which is estimated to be 40 percent faster than the passage via the Suez Canal (Defense News, 2020). The Arctic also contains roughly 13 percent of the world’s unexplored oil resources and 30 percent of its unconfirmed natural gas reserves – “the largest unexplored prospective area for petroleum remaining on earth”, according to Donald Gautier (Gautier et al., 2009; Ferris, 2022). 

Human rights of Arctic Indigenous communities are repeatedly violated, as rights, such as Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), are rarely applied or enforced when external actors engage in new developments on Sámi lands, such as tourism, deforestation, extraction of natural resources, and even renewable energy projects. Since 2013, Sámi in Swedish Sápmi have protested the prospective iron-ore mine in Gállok on the basis of the lands traditionally belonging to them and that mining will endanger their cultural practices and economic wellbeing. Despite repeated criticism from the UN regarding the threat of mining to reindeer migration and ecosystems, in 2022 the Swedish government granted Beowulf permission to mine (Persson, Harnesk and Islar, 2017; OHCHR, 2022). 

Indigenous peoples are bearing the brunt of rapid Arctic warming, while having done little historically and currently to create the climate crisis. This highlights a gross climate injustice. 

BACK TO SDG PAGE

Want to contribute?

  • Do you want to help us make this page more complete? Reach out.
  • Explore our solutions page to find out what you can do.
  • Take action!
  • Stay up to date by subscribing to our monthly newsletter (link in the menu bar at the top of the page)

ARCTIC RISK INDICATORS

The following gauges show up-to-date data regarding key indicators in the Arctic. These indicators clearly point to the crisis at hand.

Greenland rate of ice loss
13 million l/s
on average
13 million tonnes/s
on average
Arctic Sea Ice Extent
2,161,499 km²
below 1981-2010 average on 20-Sep-2023
834,555 mi²
below 1981-2010 average on 20-Sep-2023
Arctic Amplification
4 times
faster than global average
Arctic 66N+ Wildfire emissions
24,864.17 megatonnes CO₂e
CO₂e emissions in 2023 so far
Arctic Air Quality (PM2.5)
4.89 microgram per cubic meter
on 21-Sep-2023
Global mean Sea Level
3.4mm/year
since 1993