The Arctic has received increased attention in the past decade, not at last due to new estimates about the region's vast natural resource deposits. The common interest of the Arctic states in developing these resources becomes visible in both their respective national Arctic strategies as well as through declarations of the main forum for intergovernmental cooperation in the region—the Arctic Council—where mass-scale natural resource extraction may be one way to move toward a sustainable future. This paper analyzes whether the promotion of hydrocarbon development can contribute to sustainable human development in the Arctic. This paper argues that, while some regions may be affected positively, the Arctic population at large will likely not benefit from hydrocarbon development. Following approaches from political ecology, this paper suggests that there are indications that hydrocarbon development is more in the interest of global elites—based in the economic and political centers in the south of the Arctic—rather than an agenda for meaningful human development of the Arctic population. Thus, this paper concludes that hydrocarbon development is not a suitable approach to develop the Arctic's societies in an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable manner for current and future generations.