Trump's climate stance looms over Arctic meeting

Adjust Comment Print

The move cones as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hands over the Arctic Council Chairmanship to Finland in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Thursday.

Freeland also praised the work of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the two days of Alaska meetings, which wrapped up Thursday night, in getting a consensus on recognizing the Paris accord.

The U.S. began chairing the council two years ago.

"While Secretary of State Tillerson will participate in the Ministerial Meeting in Fairbanks, there is skepticism that his presence will translate to sustained interest in the region and to Finland's goal of implementing the Paris Agreement".

The document noted the importance of reducing soot and methane emissions and said climate change is the most serious threat to Arctic biodiversity.

"The Arctic region has been facing unprecedented change and challenges", Tillerson said.

Some global warming advocates had predicted that Tillerson would use the Alaskan summit to announce America's rejection of the Paris Accord.

"In the United States, we are now reviewing several important policies, including how the Trump administration will approach the issue of climate change", he said.

While President Trump has talked tough in the past about his skeptical views on climate change, his administration appears to be taking a more cautious approach to the issue on the world stage in the early days of his presidency.

His White House is now embroiled in debate over whether the United States should continue to participate in the Paris Agreement.

The Arctic Council is an advisory body that promotes cooperation among member nations and Indigenous groups.

Tillerson tackled the issue head-on during his opening statement.

This story is posted on Independent Barents Observer as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.

It's not clear whether Canada and the Nordic countries are likely to issue a joint informal statement on Paris if Tillerson and Trump insist on dropping it from the formal declaration.

Whatever other differences the various members may have, they "don't manifest themselves in the work of the Arctic Council", he said.

The meeting comes at a time of rapid and extensive environmental change in the region, which scientists say is largely linked to climate change.

Balton, a career diplomat who has served as the chairman of the council's senior Arctic official, has been careful to downplay any conflicts between the Trump administration's Arctic policies and those of past presidents.

The Fairbanks meeting of the Council came after the White House said this week that Trump will not decide on climate change policy until after a trip to Europe later this month.

The changes in the Arctic have the potential to lead to more economic development amid the region's fragile ecosystems, and to new security concerns. But they're mostly similar. Join us in a conversation about world events, the newsgathering process or whatever aspect of the news universe you find interesting or important. "But my own feeling is that USA interests in the Arctic are long-term and enduring, and they have a lot to do with the state of Alaska".

The Finnish business daily Kauppalehti reported this week, however, that attitudes in the Finnish maritime industry cluster differ somewhat from the emphasis on climate change and sustainability.