Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 415

415 Arctic Yearbook 2015 issue. The Paris Conference is thus the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (“COP-21”), all previous conferences having resulted in their share of decisions – the most significant being the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 which set emissions target for a limited set of industrialized countries. While the Arctic has become the most prominent icon of ongoing climate impacts, the region has not been directly addressed during these two decades of international negotiations (Doelle 2009; Duyck 2012). Indeed, the review of the legal instruments and political decisions adopted at each annual conference reveals a complete absence of reference to the region. Several elements contribute to explain why the UN negotiations have remained seemingly oblivious to the implications of climate change in the Arctic. Firstly, the international nature of this process limits the opportunity to address regional specificities. The political decisions resulting from the annual climate conference do not refer to specific geographic regions. References to Africa constitute the only notable exception to this principle, the continent being referred to as “the region suffering the most from the combined impacts of climate change and poverty,” a reference meant to highlight the need to channel specific resources to support the climate policies of African countries. Secondly, the strong distinction established in the Climate Convention between industrialized and developing countries has limited the opportunity for the climate negotiations to address climate impacts in the Arctic. Building on these differentiated roles, the UN addresses the vulnerabilities and adaptation needs of developing countries, those of industrialized nations being primarily considered as a matter for domestic policies. As all circumpolar states fall under the second category, issues related to adaptation to climate impacts in the Arctic have fallen outside of the scope of discussions taking place under the UNFCCC. Thirdly, the eight Arctic states (Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, S vVFV