Institute for World Society Studies
"Polar (Geo-) Politics:
How does Global Environmental Change (GEC) cause a transformation of political relationships between and within the circumpolar Argentina, Canada, Chile and the U.S.?"
Project Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Mathias Albert
Doctoral Researcher: Dorothea Wehrmann
Funded by: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung
Environmental change caused by continuing global warming and the melting of sea ice has precipitated growing political interest on the part of various state and non-state stakeholders in the polar regions. With new access to formerly ice-covered areas, economic opportunities (particularly the prospect of resource extraction and the use of new seaways) have arisen. This has put policy makers in a double bind: While, on the one hand, collective measures are needed to protect the environment; on the other hand, the exploitation of valuable and limited resources serves national economic interests.
Against this background the research project deals with the question of whether this political challenge is leading to more cooperation between pivotal political actors in the Arctic and in the Antarctic region or supports the return to and/or development of stronger national “Polar identities” in four selected countries.
In a first step, the main political actors involved in polar politics will be identified. Due to their geographic proximity to both regions, the project focuses on actors from Argentina, Chile, Canada, and the USA that are particularly affected by the impact of global warming and on developments in the Arctic and the Antarctic. In a next step follows the examination of their positions as explicated in official documents (laws, strategy and policy papers, campaigns). The comparison of their diverse national interests (also considering assumed legitimations) will reveal if political actors are envisaging cooperation in the polar regions or not. Moreover, comments on far-reaching governmental decisions by important national print media will be examined in order to, first, clarify the perception of polar politics in the media and, second, to compare how specific mental images are used by political actors and the media with regard to polar politics.