At several points in the past, Arctic native groups including the Inuit have been effectively involved in the development of international regimes for environmental protection. Perhaps most significant was the role of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in the development of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Studies done on the human health impact of Arctic POPs on the Inuit provided a big part of the scientific basis for the agreement. Arctic native groups were also effective at pressing their moral claim: chemicals being manufactured elsewhere were poisoning their environment and threatening their way of life.
A similar claim can be made about climate change, though the probable outcome is a lot more negative for Arctic native groups. Relatively few states and companies manufactured the bulk of POPs and, in most cases, less harmful chemicals can be used in their place. The economic costs of phasing out POPs were relatively modest. While the costs of dealing with climate change are a lot lower than the costs that will be incurred through inaction, they are nonetheless many orders of magnitude greater than the costs associated with abatement of POP use.
The threat posed to the Inuit by climate change is also quite a bit more far-reaching. It is entirely possible that the whole Arctic icecap will be gone within twenty years, or even sooner. 2007 was by far the worst year ever recorded for Arctic sea ice. Without summer sea ice, the Arctic ecosystem seems certain to change profoundly. Given the reliance of traditional Inuit lifestyles upon hunting terrestrial and marine mammals, it seems like such conditions would make it impossible to live as the Inuit have lived for millenia. This isn’t even a matter of worst-case scenarios. Even without significant new feedback effects, summer Arctic sea ice is likely to vanish by mid century. Increasing recognition of this partly explains the ongoing scramble to claim Arctic sub-sea mineral rights.
As with small island states, there doesn’t seem to be enormously much hope for avoiding fundamental and perhaps irreversible change in the Arctic.