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Arctic Council meeting: USA might be confronted by Arctic Nations concerned about climate change

Arctic Nations May Confront U.S. on Climate Change Leaders of the Arctic Council could rebuff U.S. position, Scientific American, By Margaret Kriz HobsonClimateWire on May 10, 2017, FAIRBANKS, Alaska—Diplomats from eight Arctic nations are facing a standoff today over the Trump administration’s efforts to downplay the importance of climate change in an Arctic Council ministerial statement marking the end of the United States’ two-year council chairmanship.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the top foreign ministers from the world’s seven other Arctic nations are due to arrive in Fairbanks today for tomorrow’s Arctic Council ministerial meeting.

During that meeting, the top government officials are scheduled to sign a final statement highlighting the accomplishments of the U.S. chairmanship, as well as Finland’s plans for its upcoming term as head of the council.

But foreign policy staff arriving in Fairbanks early this week said they have not yet signed off on the wording of the ministerial statement proposed by the White House in advance of the meeting. They disagree with Trump administration efforts to weaken the references to climate change and the Paris climate accord.

The officials are meeting with U.S. officials this morning to hammer out the final language of the ministerial statement. Like all Arctic Council actions, that statement must be reached on a consensus basis. Along with the United States, the council is made up of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden.

At issue is the abrupt change in the U.S. position on the Paris Agreement since the November election. Former President Obama made climate change the top issue when the United States took the lead of the Arctic Council in 2015.

President Trump, however, has sidelined Arctic policy issues and largely ignored the Arctic Council climate priorities of his predecessor. Trump has dismissed the science backing climate change and proposed to open the American Arctic to oil and gas drilling. His White House is currently embroiled in debate over whether the United States should continue to participate in the Paris Agreement.

Meanwhile, most of the other members of the Arctic Council have been emphasizing their commitment to reducing greenhouse gases under the Paris agreement.

The five Nordic countries recently issued a statement strongly affirming the Paris accord and vowing to take the lead on climate and energy policies. 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.”…….

May 12, 2017 - Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, politics international

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