Fairbanks meeting participants to adopt declaration on Arctic peace commitment

Erika Turner
May 12, 2017

"This ministerial is convening as the Arctic is unravelling at an accelerating rate", said Mr Rafe Pomerance, a State Department official in the Clinton administration and the chairman of Arctic 21, an advocacy group. US Deputy Assistant Secretary David Balton noted talking to Kommersant that, in spite of disagreements on other issues, the United States believes cooperation with Russian Federation in the Arctic region has been productive.

And it also said U.S. President Donald Trump's "general criticism and disparaging attitude to climate change issues" could cripple U.S. work at the Arctic Council, which focuses largely on climate change and how to minimize its impact and foster adaption in the Arctic. At the same time, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau supported the Paris Agreement on the floor of the Parliament in Ottawa, Ontario, and called climate action "particularly important amongst Arctic nations".

At the meeting in Fairbanks, the eight nations released a joint statement that cites the Paris accord and calls for global action to reduce greenhouse gases.

For Canada and Nordic countries deeply concerned about climate change, the Arctic Council meeting is a chance to lobby Tillerson at a moment when the US decision is at a "stalemate", said Andrew Light, a climate specialist with the World Resources Institute.

The Obama administration had emphasized climate change and scientific research during the two-year US chairmanship.

Alaska U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan will attend the Arctic Council as observers alongside Tillerson.

Today US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Fairbanks, Alaska to attend the Arctic Council's tenth ministerial meeting.

U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan added, "All eyes will be on Fairbanks this week as it hosts dignitaries from not only the eight Arctic nations, but from around the world for the 10th Arctic Council Ministerial..."

"We're not going to rush to make a decision".

By including regional governments in Arctic Council meetings and empowering them to implement Arctic Council initiatives outside of the direct management of national governments, progress on climate change could be maintained despite a lack of commitment from national governments.

Protesters greeted Tillerson Wednesday afternoon in Fairbanks with a sign that said, "Welcome to the frontline of climate change". "The Clinton administration, the Bush administration, the Obama administration all developed their own version of Arctic policy".

Christina-Alexa Liakos of Greenpeace USA, said her group will watch the meeting with an eye toward US policy on broader environmental issues, such as the Paris Climate Agreement.

Nordic countries, including Finland, which takes over leadership of the Arctic Council from the United States, this month issued a statement affirming the Paris agreement and pledging continued leadership on climate issues.

The worst-case scenario feared by some would be that Tillerson used this gathering to announce the US would withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Soini said Arctic resources and transportation routes may attract interest.

Tillerson spoke Thursday in Fairbanks, Alaska, at a meeting of the Arctic Council, made up of the eight Arctic nations and indigenous groups.

And Arctic cooperation is familiar ground for Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil chief executive who once negotiated oil deals in northern waters with Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

Other reports by Insurance News

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