Futures of shipping in the Arctic until 2050

Erokhin, D., Rovenskaya, E. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2761-3443, & Strelkovskii, N. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6862-1768 (2022). Futures of shipping in the Arctic until 2050. In: 11th International Forum on Shipping, Ports, and Airports, 16 – 20 May 2022, Hong Kong.

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The Arctic sea ice is melting with the magnitude and pace of warming being more than twice than the world average. This increases the potential of global trade to cross the Arctic Ocean. Currently, the Arctic does not have the required infrastructure, and investments into the region are limited. It was estimated that US$1 trillion would need to be invested in the Arctic infrastructure over the next 15 years. These developments imply long planning periods, e.g., it may take more than 10 years to build a brand-new icebreaker. Thus, it is of utmost importance to understand what will be shipped, at what risk, at what cost, and by whom and to whom. Whether raw materials and minerals extraction, fisheries, tourism, transport of manufactured goods, or some other type of activity will prevail on the Arctic routes will determine the kind of infrastructure needed. Will it be shipping from Shanghai all the way down to Rotterdam? Or are these supposed to be short voyages calling at different harbors? Working through these issues with the elaboration of potential scenarios is decisive for evaluating infrastructural investment decisions. Is it economics or geopolitics that will mainly drive the Arctic development? Will it be a kind of economic landscape in which countries compete or collaborate? To help decision-makers deal with this high level of uncertainty in the Arctic, we have launched the “Emerging trade routes between Europe and Asia” scenario building project. In this work, we present the resulting alternative narratives describing plausible futures of shipping in the Arctic until 2050: (i) Arctic as a Global Resource Base, (ii) Arctic as a Global Transportation Route, (iii) Arctic as an Abandoned Land, (iv) Arctic as a Sanctuary, and (v) Arctic as a Shortcut. These cross-scale consistent plausible narratives have been co-created together with representatives of policy, business, and academic communities and correspond to different possible volumes of Arctic shipping: high volume of destination and low volume of transit shipping; high volume of destination and transit shipping; low volume of destination and transit shipping; and low volume of destination and high volume of transit shipping. Key factors that determine these scenarios include infrastructure development, navigation conditions, global and regional governance, regulatory and financial barriers, advanced technologies, and decarbonization. The scenarios can inform the development of short-, medium-, and long-term policy measures aimed at the search of common interests and fostering cooperation in the Arctic for strategic planning of infrastructure projects and shipping operations.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Programs: Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA)
Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) > Cooperation and Transformative Governance (CAT)
Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) > Exploratory Modeling of Human-natural Systems (EM)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2022 08:02
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2022 08:02
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/18222

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