As Ms. Stephen says, there are 8 reasons why Arctic trading, and consequently shipping, will be limited in the future:

  1. Arctic routes are not always shorter: For connecting northern Europe and East Asia the Arctic makes sense, but for example to trade goods from or to south-Asia, South America, Africa or the Middle East, the Arctic is not shorter.
  2. Seasonality: Ice melting is occurring in the Arctic, as the routes are still seasonal. This means that they open in spring and freeze again in autumn.
  3. Unreliability: Bad weather and floating ice can make it very hard for seafarers to stick to tight timetables that the container ships must meet.
  4. Warmer weather might lead to worse weather conditions: Warm weather forms loose ice in form of ice floes and icebergs, which can be more dangerous for ships than thin but fast ice.
  5. "Ice-free" still means ice: Icebergs can always be around.
  6. Shallow water: Big heavy ships can go through, since they would run aground.
  7. Extension of Panama Canal: The new Panama Canal doubled the cargo capacity of the waterway and made it possible for even larger ships, which cannot pass through the Arctic.
  8. Mainly Arctic resources: People living on the Arctic do not benefit from ships just passing by.


A limited Arctic trading however can be good, mainly for two reasons:

  • Environmental impact: The Arctic environment is fragile. Oil spills and air pollution from ships can damage it.
  • Climate change: Using the Arctic will make it harder to comply with stricter environmental regulations.