The United States managed to remove references to the alarming rate at which Arctic sea ice is being lost from an international declaration, it has been revealed, in one of the first signs that the Trump administration will attempt to water down action on climate change by the rest of the world.
The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental body which represents eight countries with an interest in the region, including the US, Canada, Russia and the Scandinavian states.
Earlier this month it published the ‘Fairbanks Declaration’ which, to the surprise of some, did actually recognise that climate change was happening and twice as fast in the Arctic.
But a draft copy obtained by the Inside Climate News website shows the US suggested a number of last-minute changes which sought to play down global warming and how to reduce it.
While they were not all accepted in their entirety, the US largely got its way.
There is concern that Trump administration will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
But it is also thought some US officials believe it is better to remain a signatory in order to have a seat at the table during further international negotiations – possibly to delay, water down or otherwise obstruct progress.
And so evidence of this tactic in the Arctic Council talks, as exposed by Inside Climate News, has caused some alarm.
The biggest US-proposed change saw the mass deletion of comments noting “with concern that the Arctic Ocean could be largely free of summer ice in two decades, that melt processes in the Arctic may have greater impact on global sea level rise than previously estimated, and that changes in the Arctic may be affecting weather in mid-latitudes”.
This was replaced by a bland statement noting “with concern” the findings of an updated assessment of levels of snow, ice and permafrost in the region.
The draft document also talked about “noting the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate…