US Ends Arctic Council Chairmanship By Signing Treaty on Carbon Emissions
- Author: Leroy Wright May 25, 2017,
May 25, 2017, 20:24
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.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will host foreign ministers from Arctic nations at a summit in Alaska on Thursday, where President Donald Trump's reluctance to fight climate change will likely cast a shadow over talks.
"The U.S. will remain engaged in the work that the Arctic Council does on climate change throughout".
European Union and USA sanctions and Russian Federation, and the Trump administration's plan to cut spending on climate change and environmental protection programmes, have cast a shadow over the council's work.
The Arctic Council's goals are sustainable development and environmental protection of the Arctic.
"The US-Russia initiative will make it easier to move equipment, samples and data across borders in the north and facilitate scientific collaboration and sharing". "And of course messaging to the administration in this country, I believe, that the other seven have recognized the importance of the Paris agreement".
Tillerson told the meeting of the Arctic Council in Fairbanks, Alaska that the region's views would be taken into account, but that Washington's policy will be based on USA interests.
The Arctic Council meeting begins at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 11th, at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks.
To the Arctic Council, her message was "let's have the courage to make it even better".
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will represent the Russian delegation.
Protesters gathered in a city park nearby to denounce the presence of Tillerson, who is the former president of Exxon Mobil Corp.
Before he left Washington on Wednesday, Tillerson had met with Lavrov and taken him to see Trump at the White House-a victory for Russia's efforts to resist diplomatic isolation. "This place is handsome, and this place is delicate, and what already is happening in the Arctic will affect the rest of the Earth. And that is science". "And I don't think they were shy about underscoring their commitment to recognizing and dealing with climate change".
Tillerson tackled the issue head-on during his opening statement.
"And the United States will remain engaged in the work that the Arctic Council does on climate change throughout", he added.
"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.
After the rally, the protesters marched behind a sign reading, "Welcome to the frontline of climate change", to the building where the Arctic Council welcoming celebration was being held.
The Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum set up in 1996, consists of Russia, Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States. The document also recommends close and coordinated global monitoring of the Arctic's changing climate, a priority that will be enhanced by a legally binding agreement that would ease Arctic research.
President Obama also became the first sitting president to travel above the Arctic Circle when he went to the largely Inupiat community of Kotzebue.
The U.S. will be handing over its two-year chairmanship of the council to Finland at Thursday's meeting.
"You need a rapid implementation of this Paris Agreement".
Under the Obama administration, the USA urged Arctic Council members to participate in the Paris agreement, but now, President Trump has indicated the US may pull out of the commitment to reduce global greenhouse gasses.
At issue is the abrupt change in the USA position on the Paris Agreement since the November election.
But in Fairbanks, the newly minted American envoy may come under more pressure from traditional allies like Canada and Finland than from Moscow, this time over climate change.