Why cumulative impacts assessments of hydrocarbon activities in the Arctic fail to meet their purpose

Trine Skovgaard Kirkfeldt, Anne Merrild Hansen, Pernille Olsen, Lucia Mortensen, Kamelia Krumova, Alexander Welsch

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The Arctic Region is characterised by vulnerable ecosystems and residing indigenous people, dependent on nature for fishing and hunting. The Arctic also contains a wealth of non-living natural resources such as minerals and hydrocarbons. Synergies between increased access and growing global demand for the Arctic resources influence the level and nature of human activity. Therefore, it is essential to assess and mitigate the impacts from these activities. Environmental Assessment is a common tool applied by the Arctic nations to secure that environmental considerations are included in decision-making when new plans and projects are implemented. However, recent research indicates that the assessment of cumulative impacts in assessments have been characterised by inconsistent and ambiguous practices. The article presents an analysis of the current practice of assessing cumulative impacts in environmental assessments in relation to offshore oil activities in the Arctic. It is found that cumulative assessments are generally lacking in assessments undertaken, which according to practitioners can be explained by a high complexity of the nature of cumulative impacts, lack of financial resources, lack of methodology for assessment of cumulative impacts, knowledge gap of Arctic ecosystems and other.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)725-737
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

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