Tillerson: US Reviewing Climate Policies, Will Not Be Rushed into Decision

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"The Arctic region has been facing unprecedented change and challenges", Tillerson said.

She highlighted Canada's recent investments on protecting the Arctic environment, including its $1.5-billion investment to protect oceans and $400 million to wean communities off using diesel. Lisa Murkowski, seated left, speak with representatives of Alaska Native groups at an Arctic Council event in Fairbanks, Alaska. "We are pleased to work with our neighbours and partners - the other Arctic countries and indigenous peoples in the Arctic".

Finland's Foreign Minister Timo Soini, whose country will chair the council for the next two years, commended USA leadership in the Arctic Council, but went on to emphasise the Paris Agreement as an important tool in fighting climate change.

Several speakers on Thursday noted the peace the Arctic has enjoyed relative to other parts of the world, though participants have also expressed concerns that security could be threatened by Russia's assertive pursuit of oil and gas development in the region.

The United State chaired the council for the last two years and turned the chairmanship over to Finland on Thursday.

The U.S. will be handing over its two-year chairmanship of the council to Finland at Thursday's meeting.

On climate change, Tillerson said the Trump administration is not yet ready to reveal its long-term policy, but he said it will put US interests ahead of all others. "We are going to make the right decision for the United States".

In her comments, the Canadian representative thanked the United States and said that, despite hard negotiations, the council "came to a really good place with [its] statement".

"Anybody who spent time in or studying the Arctic knows that the region is warming, that climate change is a real issue here, and the Arctic Council has certainly been paying attention to it", he said.

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Climate change was the biggest issue at the biennial meeting of the Arctic Council in Fairbanks, which was overshadowed by the uncertainties over Mr Trump's policy.

Rather than continuing to appeal for USA support for climate change and sustainable development initiatives at the ministerial level, it may prove more effective to engage subnational actors on these important issues in the years to come.

"The Arctic is warming at more than twice the rate of the global average, note with concern that the pace and scale of continuing Arctic warming will depend on future emissions of greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants", according to the declaration.

While the council only has the power to issue advisories, the language in the statement signed by Tillerson comes in stark contrast to statements and promises made by President Trump about climate change.

Finance chiefs from the G7 begin a two-day meeting in Italy today (12 May), with Europe, Japan and Canada hoping to come away with a clearer picture of US President Donald Trump's direction on important policies that he has yet to spell out.

Trump has said little about Arctic policy, but he has taken steps to put US Arctic Ocean waters back in play for petroleum drilling.

They signed an agreement which stated there was a need for urgent global action.

Sure, there's plenty to disagree about, says one Canadian official speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of those issues.

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

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