Arctic footprints

With a warming rate that is twice that of the global average, the Arctic is often referred to as a bellwether for climate change with predictions of further increases leading to substantial loss of Arctic sea ice and large-scale thawing of the permafrost.

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The Arctic has also been a bellwether for the impact of long-range transboundary air pollution where persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals (e.g. mercury) are transported long distances and deposited in the high North where is accumulate through the food chain. The region itself contributes little to the causes of climate change and production of pollutants.

The EU Arctic Footprint and Policy Assessment Project (EU Arctic Footprint) is a first attempt at calculating Europe's contribution to the impact on the Arctic environment and inhabitants.

The project also examines the effectiveness of EU policies in mitigating Arctic impacts. Both of these assessments will be considered in relation to possible future scenarios. The overall goal is to improve the effectiveness of EU environmental policies with respect to the Arctic region, especially as relates to the implementation of existing policies and a new Arctic Policy for the EU.

Arctic Footprint is funded by the European Commission (DG Environment) and is being led by four institutes: Ecologic Institute (Germany; Project Co-ordinator), Arctic Centre (Finland), Stockholm Environment Institute (Sweden), and Sustainable Europe Research Institute (Austria).

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