M-RCBG Associate Working Paper No. 57

Arctic 2030: Planning For an Uncertain Future

Katie Burkhart, Theodora Skeadas and Christopher Wichmann



Rapid and unprecedented changes in the Arctic bring both opportunities and risks to Germany. Opportunities include increased access to abundant natural resources resulting from the melting of the polar ice cap and land-based ice sheets. Additionally, the opening of new shipping lanes through the Arctic reduces the transit time substantially from Germany to Asia. Conversely, developments in the Arctic could endanger human health, wildlife, lead to regional instability and destroy fragile ecosystems. These opportunities and risks impact Germany and necessitate its involvement, given Germany’s role as a political leader for climate change within Europe.

This project predicts four possible scenarios in the Arctic in 2030 that Germany might face: Managed Boom, Isolated Arctic, Polar Lows, and Free for All. The scenarios are derived from two critical uncertainties, global oil price and Arctic governance, as well as global driving trends including globalization and optimization of trade, melting ice and warmer temperatures, and increased security concerns.

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