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Tillerson gets earful on climate change from Arctic governments

20 Mai 2017

Finland's Foreign Minister Timo Soini, whose country will chair the council for the next two years, praised USA leadership in the Arctic Council but added that the Paris Agreement is an important tool in fighting climate change.

That's raised concerns among the global crowd gathered in Fairbanks this week.

Officials will most likely approve a measure to improve scientific cooperation in the region, and Mr Tillerson will turn over the rotating chairmanship of the intergovernmental organisation, which the USA has held for two years, to Finland.

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. An Arctic Shipping Traffic Database has been set up over the last two years; an assessment of telecommunications in the region led to the decision to establish a Task Force on Improved Connectivity in the Arctic; and a new Arctic Economic Council is now moving into the operational stage. "I'm grateful for the level of cooperation that the nations and the people of the arctic have demonstrated as they continue to address these challenges".

Were there any missed opportunities under the US chairmanship? Soini said the input in climate affairs by the European Union countries as well as China and India will have a great importance. The arguments focused in part on the special status of indigenous organizations and encouraged a comparable position for northern sub-national actors like Alaska, Greenland, the Canadian territories, Nordic municipalities and Russia's republics.

Delegates plan to continue work on several issues, including climate change, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US will remain a member of the council. "And I think that sounds reasonable to do so".

"We've been fishing thousands of years and we've been hunting for thousands of years in Alaska", he said, expressing concern that future generations will not be able to feed themselves.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson participated in a rare public event this week in Alaska, as he officially handed the reins of the Arctic Council to Finland for the next two years.

"We hope that this declaration is a meaningful step in the evolution of the Trump administration's approach to climate change issue", LeVine said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

He is expected to decide whether Washington will leave the 2015 Paris Agreement, or stay in with reduced commitments, after a Group of Seven summit at the end of this month. "That has remained a very cooperative body".

What will you be watching for as Finland takes over?

Each Arctic nation and indigenous group had three minutes to speak and hardly any let the chance pass without mentioning climate change.

The Trump administration has said little about climate change or climate science, although as a presidential candidate Dnald Trump had ridiculed the Paris agreement, and at one point called climate change a hoax put forward by China.

A second thing to watch for is how Finland really wants to raise its own profile as an Arctic country with Arctic expertise. High-level officials from the world's eight Arctic natio.

The above interview has been edited and condensed. "We the tribes ask you to listen to our land".

Tillerson gets earful on climate change from Arctic governments