At Fairbanks Arctic Council meeting, the big question mark is climate change

The joint declaration adopted by the eight-nation Arctic Council simply noted "the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change and its implementation".

But Washington will not shut down participation in climate science on the Arctic, which is facing the fastest rate of global warming in the world.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the welcoming ceremony to kick off Arctic Council events in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Nor does it explicitly state that human activity is causing climate change.

The same day, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that President Trump would not reach a decision on whether to stay or go until after the Group of Seven meeting in late May, because the president "wants to make sure that he has an opportunity to continue to meet with his team to create the best strategy for this country going forward".

Mr Trump is to decide whether the U.S. will leave or reduce its commitments to the Paris agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which was negotiated by around 200 nations and signed in 2015.

The United States chaired the council for the last two years.

After two years of chairing the council, the USA handed the gavel off to Finland.

The officials are meeting with US officials this morning to hammer out the final language of the ministerial statement.

Mr 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.

As the eight Arctic states reflect on the US Chairmanship and welcome the incoming Finnish Chair, Jim Stotts ICC Alaska President offered, "We must note that the results of all of the work done during the USA chairmanship would have benefitted greatly from an earlier involvement of the Permanent Participants during project planning stages and through the use of Indigenous Knowledge".

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Prior to departing from Washington, D.C., our U.S. Senators offered the following statements regarding this year's Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, taking place tomorrow, May 11th. It will cover both environmental protection and economic development - including oil exploration and shipping made possible by retreating ice.

In addition to the USA and Sweden, the other council nations are Russia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland.

Timo Soini, the foreign minister of Finland, said the eight member countries need to work to keep the Arctic free of tensions.

Today US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Fairbanks, Alaska to attend the Arctic Council's tenth ministerial meeting.

After signing the declaration, Tillerson told the council that his administration was still determining its approach to combatting climate change.

The focus will remain on climate change during Finland's two-year chairmanship.

Environment groups praised its support for reducing soot (called black carbon) and methane from diesel, oil and gas emissions.

If the United States, by most measures the world's second-biggest polluter, were to pull out or reduce its goals, efforts to reduce the global temperature increase might fail.

"We are focused on ensuring that decisions are not taken at these meetings that would prejudice our future policy, undermine the competitiveness of USA businesses, or hamper our broader objective of advancing USA economic growth and prosperity", a State Department official said.

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