Meeting today in Washington, President Obama together with leaders of the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland Norway, and Sweden made some important commitments to Arctic conservation. Together these countries make up the majority of the Arctic Council.
In keeping with their recognition of climate change as a key international threat, the leaders committed to extend their influence over policy and finance to promote renewable energy and decrease carbon footprints.
They also made several commitments that were specific to the Arctic.
“We were particularly pleased to see the leaders commit to science-based protection and conservation of ecologically important habitats,” said Alexander Shestakov, Director of WWF’s Global Arctic Programme. “They had already committed to developing a network of marine protection through the Arctic Council, but this adds commitment to conservation of freshwater and land too, and it will take into account ecological resilience.”
The leaders also made commitments to exercising highest standards, best practices and the precautionary approach to new and existing commercial activities in the Arctic, including oil and gas.
WWF looks forward to these commitments being nailed down in national legislation and policy, along with other commitments jointly made through the Arctic Council. We also look forward to the commitments being carried further through the Arctic Council’s work, as Finland and Iceland follow the US as next two chairs on the Council.
After months of bad northern climate-change news — Canada’s Arctic warming at three times the global rate, permafrost melting 70 years ahead of predictions, the worst polar wildfire season on record — plans have now moved forward to protect Tuvaijuittuq.
Arctic Foreign Ministers meeting today did not release a Declaration because they could not agree to collective action on climate change.