News / Americas

US Calls Arctic Council Meeting 'Historic'

Ice covering the ocean surface at lower Baffin Island, area around Hudson Strait and the Labrador Sea (2008 file photo)
Ice covering the ocean surface at lower Baffin Island, area around Hudson Strait and the Labrador Sea (2008 file photo)
TEXT SIZE - +

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to join fellow foreign ministers from the eight-nation Arctic Council on Thursday in Greenland's capital, Nuuk, for a meeting on polar region issues, including the receding Arctic ice cap.  The meeting follows the release of a council report that Arctic warming and the resulting rise in sea levels might be much greater than previous forecasts.

It will be the seventh ministerial-level meeting of the Arctic Council, made up of the countries surrounding the Arctic Ocean.

But Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg says the Greenland session will be historic, in that the grouping will create a permanent secretariat, and sign its first legally-binding common agreement, on Arctic search and rescue operations.

At a preview seminar at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, Steinberg said the Greenland meeting will strengthen the Arctic Council's role as the preeminent world body for Arctic affairs and underline cooperation on regional environmental and maritime issues.

"In the broadest terms, we want to send a strong message that in the post-Cold War world, the Arctic is a region of cooperation, not conflict," said Steinberg.  "And by working together to ensure the safety of human life in a newly-emerging region of human activity, we can show in particular that Russia and the United States are key actors in helping to propel cooperation on important issues."

In addition to the United States and Russia, the Arctic Council includes Canada, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, which is in the grouping because of its administration of Greenland.

Indigenous communities from around the Arctic region are also represented.  Countries not bordering the Arctic Ocean, but with interests in the region, have criticized the notion of a permanent structure for the Arctic Council.

The State Department's James Steinberg said another key objective of this week's meeting will be to agree on criteria for observer status for other interested countries and organizations.

The deputy secretary said data suggest that the Arctic region is warming two to three times faster than the rest of the world, and that council members will discuss new steps to curb emissions of black carbon, methane and other gases linked to climate change.

A study conducted under Arctic Council auspices and released last week in Copenhagen said Arctic warming and resultant melting of polar ice could raise sea levels by as much as 1.6 meters by 2100, almost three times more than forecast in a landmark United Nations study five years ago.

Charles Ebinger, an Arctic expert at Washington's Brookings Institution, says the world has not yet come to grips with the enormity of problems that would be posed by such change.

"When you starting talking about sea levels rising nine-and-a-half feet, I think the number was, by 2100, that's a staggering rise in the sea levels and would have potential catastrophic implications for certainly New York, Boston and Washington perhaps.  And I just don't think it's in peoples' mindset," noted Ebinger.

Ebinger said he hopes the Arctic Council agrees on a transparent observer mechanism that opens its deliberations to other countries with interests in the region, including China and South Korea.

Steinberg said Arctic and climate issues figured in Secretary of State Clinton's meetings with senior Chinese officials on Monday at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Clinton, who will be the first U.S. secretary of state to attend an Arctic Council meeting, will lead a team including Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is also expected to attend.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Audit Finds US Housing Aid Program in Haiti Falls Short

Results show post-earthquake USAID program has delivered only a quarter of planned number of homes at nearly twice the budgeted cost
More

Mourning, Memories in Garcia Marquez's Languid Hometown

Nobel Prize-winning author's early years in Aracataca inspired characters, tales for major novel
More

Powerful Earthquake Rattles Mexico

US Geological Survey says quake measuring 7.5 on Richter scale, was centered in the western state of Guerrero, north of Acapulco beach resort
More

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support
More

Colombian Novelist Garcia Marquez Dies at 87

Author of 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' won Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982
More

Salsa Legend Cheo Feliciano Dies in Car Crash

Police say singer was alone in his jaguar when he hit a post before sunrise Thursday
More