The Arctic Council and US domestic policymaking

NUPI Policy Brief

One widely recognized achievement of the Arctic Council and its various working groups has been the production of collectively generated assessments on Arctic problems. Assessment reports such as the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) provide an important baseline of shared knowledge for making collective circumpolar policy recommendations. But how does the knowledge produced through Arctic Council working groups figure into the policymaking of the Arctic states? This is an important question for understanding Arctic politics and the relationship between national decisionmaking and international relations more generally. Much of what the Arctic Council produces is in the form of recommendations, declarations of intent, and commitments to "best practices" in areas of shared interest and activity. While in recent years the Council has produced three binding agreements covering specific functional areas—search and rescue (2011), oil pollution preparedness and response (2013),and science cooperation (2017)—much ongoing Arctic collaborative work falls outside of these areas. This policy brief explores how science/policy outputs of and discussions at the Arctic Council fit into the Arctic political discourse of the USA, with an emphasis on key actors within the executive branch: the White House, the Department of the Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency.