Addressing International Implications of Adverse Climate Impacts in the Arctic: A Case Study Analysis on the Challenge of Hazardous Waste Reintroduction due to Ice Melt at Camp Century, Greenland
Buried under ice and snow in Greenland, the abandoned Camp Century holds the remnants of a Danish-American Cold War-era operation left to achieve final disposal beneath a tomb of ice. Nearly 50 years later, climate projections hypothesize that snowmelt will exceed snowfall in 2090—releasing the trapped hazardous wastes at Camp Century. This thesis examines the mechanisms through which the international community is able to remediate climate change impacts on Camp Century wastes. The wastes are characterized and examined as either a problem of transboundary pollution, as an issue of military accountability, or as an issue of climate change policy. As revealed, the wastes are unable to be classified as transboundary pollutants. Though classified as a point-source transboundary risk, they are neither a traded or public risk. Furthermore, no international or domestic transboundary pollution agreements incorporate provisions encompassing the specific attributes of Camp Century’s waste. Camp Century is also not an issue of military accountability as U.S. base cleanup laws and environmental regulations do not apply abroad and as the original bilateral agreement governing the site is insufficient in addressing potential ice melt. Finally, as examined through institutions such as the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, Camp Century is, again, unable to be incorporated in current frameworks such as adaptation as adaption efforts are concentrated on developing nations. This thesis reveals the inability of current frameworks, institutions, and agreements to effectively remediate Camp Century wastes which is a case utilized as a microcosm through which to examine international capacity in addressing climate-change induced impacts.