US Joins Arctic Council In Calling For Action To Curb Climate Change

The Trump administration had not indicated whether it would continue honoring the Paris Climate Agreement, an global accord obligating participating countries into taking concrete steps to reduce their carbon emissions output.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed an global declaration highlighting the importance of the Paris Agreement in tackling climate change Thursday, even as the Trump administration considers withdrawing from the agreement.

The Arctic Council - an worldwide body dedicated to sustaining the Arctic - has concluded its meeting at Fairbanks, Alaska, by signing a treaty that cites climate change in the Arctic and the importance of the Paris Agreement in slowing it. She said she was happy to see a strong recognition of the real impacts climate change is having on the Arctic, but also noted the single mention of the Paris agreement.

Uncertainty over how President Trump's proposed climate policy changes may affect the work of the Arctic Council has hung over the meeting in Fairbanks.

"We strongly believe that without significant, sustained and coordinated approaches to addressing the causes of the warming Arctic, our culture - linked so closely to the Porcupine caribou herd - can not survive", Blake said.

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Freeland would not comment on Tillerson's apparently contradictory remarks following Thursday's summit, when he said the US will not be rushed into formulating its policy on climate change. "We are not going to rush to make a decision", he said. "We're going to work to make the right decision".

The two-year chairmanship that began under former President Barack Obama focused a great deal on climate change, and in the run-up to this week's meeting plenty of uncertainty existed about how the administration of President Donald Trump, who once called climate change a hoax, would cap off the chairmanship. That non-binding global agreement went into effect a year ago and calls for countries to set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Later in the statement, the parties commit a whole section to addressing the impacts of climate change, laying out eleven steps forward.

Still, Mr Tillerson's signing of the document surprised a source close to the State Department.

"The Fairbanks Declaration notes what Paris claims to be", the official emphasized, "it does not obligate the United States to enforce it". "It does not obligate the U.S.to enforce it".

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Tillerson signed the document.

"(The Inuit Circumpolar Council) applauds the Finnish chairmanship's prioritizing the importance of implementing the Paris climate change agreement and United Nations' sustainable development goals", said Canada's Okalik Eegeesiak, worldwide chair of the ICC, which represents Inuit in Russia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. "I know that that took some effort to get there, so thank you very much". Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that the administration will not announce the results until after Trump returns from the G-7 summit at the end of May.

In his remarks at the close of the conference, Tillerson noted that the administration is "reviewing" a variety of USA policies, including on climate change.

The accomplishments of the Council during the U.S. Chairmanship (2015-2017) include projects like the Circumpolar Local Environmental Observer Network, Marine Protected Areas Network Toolbox: Area-based conservation measures and ecological connectivity, and a series of health-related projects aimed at improving the health and mental wellness of indigenous and Arctic communities.

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