Trump's climate stance casts shadow over Arctic meeting

Russia arctic forum

Russia arctic forum

"We are now reviewing several important policies, including how the Trump administration will approach the issue of climate change", Tillerson said Thursday at the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska.

This binds Tillerson's hands as he tries to find appropriate words to express solidarity with fellow Arctic nations, without knowing where Trump will finally come down on the issue.

Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting participants will adopt a declaration on the commitment of all Arctic states to peace, stability and cooperation in the Arctic, RIA Novosti reports, quoting the Russian Foreign Ministry's Information and Press Department.

Mr Aleksi Harkonen, Finland's senior Arctic official, said that during negotiations the USA had demanded there be no mention of the Paris agreement in the Fairbanks Declaration, as the final statement of the Arctic Council meeting will be known.

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

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will lead the session, but he won't have many answers for his fellow foreign ministers.

The Arctic Council is the main forum for worldwide cooperation in the Arctic, and the meeting has drawn foreign ministers from across the North, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Tillerson is hosting the Arctic Council, where many delegates from some of the countries most affected by global warming were hoping for a renewed United States commitment to reduce emissions. "We're going to work to make the right decision for the United States".

"Climate change has been an ongoing topic of interest for the Arctic Council for many chairmanships going back in time and I foresee that it will continue to be one of the things the Arctic Council focuses on", he said.

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Tillerson signed the document.

According to the office of the Prime Minister, Finland plans to emphasise environmental protection, connectivity, meteorology and education during its term at the helm, with the Paris Agreement to combat climate change front and centre.

It's an important trip for Finland, which takes over the rotating two-year chairmanship of the council at a delicate time in global politics.

He has since launched a review of USA participation in the deal, but the White House revealed this week that no decision will be made until Trump returns from Europe on May 27.

Whatever other differences the various members may have, they "don't manifest themselves in the work of the Arctic Council", he said. On the website outlining their chairmanship priorities, they say they want to emphasize the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change in the first sentence, which is making a strong point from the get-go.

At issue is the abrupt change in the USA position on the Paris Agreement since the November election.

Arctic warming is thawing permafrost and melting sea ice, causing damage to infrastructure but also opening up new oil reserves, shipping routes and access to fisheries - intensifying a decades-long race for Arctic resources.

No formal discussions were set in Alaska but key issues such as climate change, development and drilling will provide a backdrop as the chairmanship of the council passes from the U.S.to Finland.

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.