US breaks from Arctic consensus on climate change

(EurActiv, 9 May 2019) At a meeting of the Arctic Council, secretary of state Mike Pompeo refused to identify global warming as a threat, instead hailing an oil rush as sea ice melts. EURACTIV’s media partner Climate Home News reports.

The US refused to join other Arctic countries in describing climate change as a key threat to the region, as a two-day meeting of foreign ministers drew to a close on Tuesday in Ravaniemi, Finland.

Founded in 1996, the Arctic Council seeks to encourage cooperation between Arctic countries, especially in the area of environmental protection. Member states include Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States, while six indigenous groups also sit in the negotiations as permanent participants.

Addressing the Council on Monday, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo did not mention climate change once, but instead welcomed the opportunities unlocked by rapidly receding ice sheets.

“The Arctic is at the forefront of opportunity and abundance,” he said. “It houses 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil, 30% of its undiscovered gas, an abundance of uranium, gold, diamonds and millions of square miles of untapped resources, fisheries galore.”

Statement tailored for the US

Such were divisions on climate between the Trump administration and other countries that the Arctic Council issued two separate statements, for the first time in its history.

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EurActiv, 9 May 2019: US breaks from Arctic consensus on climate change