Saturday, April 25, 2015

Arctic Nations to Fight Climate Change Despite Russia Tensions

A polar bear near the North Pole. "The Arctic is warming faster than any other region on Earth,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in assuming eadership of the eight-nation Arctic Council. (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
The eight Arctic Council nations pledged on Friday to do more to combat climate change that is shrinking the vast frigid region, with countries trying to put aside disputes over issues like Russia's intervention in Ukraine.

Meeting in the Canadian town of Iqaluit, 300 km (200 miles) south of the Arctic Circle, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States pledged to work to address emissions of black carbon and methane.

Both are seen as particularly harmful to the Arctic, whose sea ice this year was the smallest in winter since satellite records began in 1979, according to U.S. data.

The region is warming at twice the rate of other parts of the globe, which both threatens traditional communities even as it opens up new sea lanes and vast oil and mineral resources.
Leona Aglukkaq, the Canadian environment minister and host, did not mention Ukraine during the day's talks but told a closing news conference that she raised it in a private with the Russian natural resources minister, Sergei Donskoi.

"I did have a brief discussion ... to state again that we condemn the actions of Russia with Ukraine and that was it," she said, saying she did not expect Russian military exercises to harm work in the Council, which does not deal with security.
At a closing news conference, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he had "very directly" challenged Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a telephone call this week about the presence of Russian military personnel and equipment in Ukraine.
However, he said Lavrov, who did not attend the Arctic talks, "made it crystal clear to me that Russia wants the Council to be successful ... and that it’s their intent to cooperate to us on the protection of the environment."

The most tangible result of the Council meeting was a fresh nonbinding pledge to do more to fight black carbon and methane.

Read more at Arctic Nations to Fight Climate Change Despite Russia Tensions

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