British interest in the Arctic has returned to heights not seen since the end of the Cold War; concerns about climate change, resources, trade, and national security are all being impacted by profound environmental and geopolitical changes happening in the Arctic. In this book, I explore why it has taken so long for Britain - once an 'Arctic state' itself - to notice how close it is to these changes, what its contemporary interests in the region are, and whether the British Government's response in the arenas of science, defence, and commerce has been enough. I also investigate the increasing geopolitical significance of the Arctic, and provide an overview of Britain's historical connections to the region. 

The book should be of interest to both academics and practitioners seeking to understand contemporary British interest and activity in the Arctic.

Further information is available here.


“The global gaze is hardening on the Arctic. Climate change is transforming the region, sovereignty issues and resource development are provoking geopolitical debate on its future, and indigenous peoples are asserting their rights and demanding greater involvement in decisions that affect their lives and lands. Meanwhile, a number of non-Arctic states are shaping their own approaches to the high latitudes. Depledge traces Britain’s efforts to establish its own role in the Arctic; history, science, trade, conservation and national security are entangled with narratives about claims for a powerful presence in northern affairs. Erudite, incisive and original, this book is a vital contribution to scholarship on the contemporary Arctic and to our understanding of how the region is being redefined and contested by an array of interests.”

Mark Nuttall, Professor and Henry Marshall Tory Chair, University of Alberta

“This thought-provoking book considers the power-geometries of the Arctic Council and the exclusionary politics through which Arctic states attempt to deprive non-Arctic states of a say in regional affairs. Britain is the illustrative case, but the analysis is universally valid and applicable to other states as well. This makes the book a most important contribution also in the looming debate on how to improve on the legitimacy of Arctic decision-making in the future. For scholars and policy makers - Arctic and non-Arctic - this book is a MUST read.”

Willy Østreng, President of the Norwegian Scientific Academy for Polar Research, 2012-2017

“The idea that Britain is a ‘forgotten’ Arctic state surprises at first, but Depledge’s explanation – close connections between the English and the Norsemen in the Viking Age, English fleets searching for northern sea routes to Asia, mass-scale whaling off Svalbard, Canadian Arctic territories under British rule, radioactive waste from Sellafield in the Barents Sea, the presence of British submarines in the Arctic Ocean, British funding of Arctic research – makes clear Britain’s past and present proximity to the region.” 

Lassi Heininen, Professor and Leader of the Thematic Network on Geopolitics and Security and co-founder of the GlobalArctic Project, University of Lapland