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Resource Development and Pollution Prevention in the Russian Arctic

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Document pages: 8 pages

Abstract: Russia accounts for more than half of the Arctic Ocean coastline and thus has sovereign rights for most Arctic offshore petroleum resources. The Northern Sea Route along the Russian coast is projected to become the main shipping lane for the Arctic resources. Russia is the largest gas and second largest oil exporter in the world. Its economy is highly dependent on petroleum exports, as witnessed by the recession following the 2014 oil price drop. With maturing provinces onshore, and over half of Russian State revenue coming from oil and gas development, the industry is turning to the Arctic and Far East. Anthropogenic activities have had negative impacts in the Russian Artic for decades: from top soil and permafrost destruction from industrial development, to mining, pipelines, nuclear testing, and finally – oil and gas exploitation. Most of the pollution in the region originates from anthropogenic activities domestically and from South-East Asia. Additionally, there is substantial ‘legacy’ pollution accumulated over decades of poor environmental policies in the soviet times. This paper briefly outlines the Russian Arctic policy and environmental regulation with a focus on resource development. It then examines the extent of Russia’s participation in international and regional environmental governance. Finally, it considers successes and challenges in pollution prevention in the Russian Arctic.

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