April 20, 2018

Fairbanks meeting participants to adopt declaration on Arctic peace commitment

20 May 2017, 11:32 | Kevin Scott

"The Arctic Council is so valuable to all of us, and very much for Canada, [because] it's where we, the Arctic nations, can set aside issues outside the Arctic and appreciate that we have shared stewardship of this region", said Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland.

"Anybody who spent time in or studying the Arctic knows that the region is warming, that climate change is a real issue here", Balton said in separate comments to the New York Times.

Trump campaigned for office warning that he may pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris accord and he has already launched a review of Washington's policy towards climate change.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the governments and peoples of the Arctic on Thursday that President Donald Trump will put America first when it comes to climate change.

The former head of Exxon Mobil Corp. said the US would continue to be an active member of the eight-member Arctic Council, which also includes Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.

The U.S. - Russian Federation initiative will make it easier to move equipment, samples and data across borders in the North and facilitate scientific collaboration and sharing.

On the campaign trail, he said he would "cancel" USA participation in the accord. It will cover both environmental protection and economic development - including oil exploration and shipping made possible by retreating ice.

The council adopted a nine-page "Fairbanks Declaration 2017", which noted that the Arctic is warming at more than twice the rate of the global average.

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Tillerson, a former ExxonMobile CEO, spoke to the plenary session about USA policy on climate change going forward.

"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". "We're going to work to make the right decision for the United States".

Tillerson says the United States appreciates that the other countries have important points of view and will take time to understand their concerns.

Freeland also said Indigenous peoples will continue to be a priority for Canada, and she praised a fur collar that Okalik Eegeesiak, the global chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, wore with her dress. "And of course messaging to the administration in this country, I believe, that the other seven have recognized the importance of the Paris agreement". Whatever other differences may exist between the United States, Russia, and other members of the Arctic Council and Russia relating to other parts of the world, don't manifest themselves in the work of the Arctic Council.

But not, it would seem, if they are meeting at the Arctic Council.

On this, Eegeesiak suggested that the Arctic Council's programs should integrate more traditional knowledge into its science programs from the beginning.

Among the outcomes of this meeting, chaired by the USA, was the signing of a binding agreement to facilitate cooperation on scientific research in the region, which ensures that scientists, their equipment and data can flow more freely across worldwide boundaries within the Arctic.

According to the roadmap, Finland is prepared to organize an Arctic Summit if "the worldwide situation allows it" and if a sufficiently heavy agenda can be agreed for the summit.

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