Arctic Nations to Meet as U.S. Stance on Climate Change Remains in Limbo

In Environment On

If there is to be drama in Fairbanks, it may come in the form of the traditional closing statement, and how much it refers to global warming broadly or specifically to the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord, in which the United States and most other nations agreed to reduce their carbon emissions. Negotiations have been continuing for weeks on the language of the statement, which is approved by consensus.

The meeting comes at a time of rapid and extensive environmental change in the region, which scientists say is largely linked to climate change. Arctic temperatures are rising twice as fast as elsewhere, sea ice is hitting record lows and permafrost is thawing. A new study this week suggests that Alaska’s vast tundra is now releasing more carbon dioxide than it stores, adding to the warming effect in the atmosphere.

The changes in the Arctic have the potential to lead to more economic development amid the region’s fragile ecosystems, and to new security concerns. Already, Russia has announced it will begin shipping natural gas from an Arctic port in Siberia this fall using special icebreaking tankers, and the Russian military recently completed a base on Franz Josef Land in the northern Barents Sea.

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