Climate Change, Environmental Threats and Cybersecurity in the European High North

Journal Article January, 2020

This paper – “Climate Change, Environmental Threats and Cybersecurity in the European High North”, appears as a chapter in a wider study entitled “Enablement Besides Constraints: Human Security and a Cyber Multi-Disciplinary Framework in the European High North”, published by Juridica Lapponica 47, Arctic Centre, Lapland – Rovaniemi 2019

Executive Summary

This chapter establishes the interconnection between existing environmental global governance systems and cyberspace/cybersecurity as well as the first ever parallel between the environmental (liability) regime and the nascent cybersecurity regime. Understanding the interconnections between these and the role of law, policies and practices in the European High North (EHN) is critical to understanding the variables affecting both climate change and cyberspace. Although climate change and cyberspace are different phenomena, the risks associated with both of them are anthropogenic and can affect the same critical equities, including key sectors such as water, food and energy infrastructures. The aim of this study is to better grasp the development of cyberspace and its revolutionary impact on human behaviour and human security. This chapter examines and addresses four core ideas: (1) the linkage between climate change, environmental threats and  cybersecurity in the EHN; (2) how the interconnectedness of environmental threats and cybersecurity can be identified, managed and regulated, including aspects of governance for cybersecurity and cyber resilience in the EHN; (3) how cyberthreats and their related risk assessments can be incorporated into regulatory frameworks in order to create proactive rather than reactive law by
exploring which is the best regulatory framework (or possible combination) applicable among different areas of law; and (4) the current cyberthreats, for example, in the energy industry and specifically to critical infrastructures (CIs) of the energy system, which will advise on the need to design a future agreement incorporating the notion of human security.

This approach is based on Elinor Ostrom’s (2012) legal framework applied to cyberspace, which can help to conceptualize the connection between cyberspace and environmental regimes. Through this method, institutional analysis design and socio-ecological systems (Ostrom, 2012) complement legal theories based on legal pluralism and polycentrism.

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