John Kerry thanks Canada for Arctic Council leadership

The United States assumed leadership of the Arctic Council on Friday and made it clear that the attention of the eight countries that ring the North Pole has shifted from economic development to climate change.

IQALUIT, Nunavut — The United States assumed leadership of the Arctic Council on Friday and made it clear that the attention of the eight countries that ring the North Pole has shifted from economic development to climate change.

“This is not a future challenge,” Secretary of State John Kerry told council members, who met in the chamber of the Nunavut legislature.

“This is happening right now.”

Kerry thanked Canada for its two-year term as council chair.

“It’s been a very important part of the council’s 20-year history and it has given all of us a strong platform on which to build.”

He promised to continue key Canadian initiatives, such as the creation of the Arctic Economic Forum, self-selecting northern businesses that meet to discuss opportunities and best practices. The U.S. will also continue Canada’s work to reduce black carbon, light-absorbing particulate matter that is a significant contributor to sea-ice melt.

But Kerry left no doubt that the primary focus of the U.S. leadership term will be dealing with the impact of Arctic climate change, which he pointed out affects the entire world. He said the U.S. will also seek to improve environmental protection in the region, including the creation of marine protected areas.

Kerry promised more work on ocean acidification, another result of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The fight against black carbon will include a search for energy alternatives to diesel for northern communities.

“We understand this is ambitious. We have to be ambitious.”

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq spoke of the pride she felt in being the first Inuk to lead the council.

“It was a great honour for me, as an Inuk, to be the first Arctic indigenous person to serve as chair of the Arctic Council,” Aglukkaq told the meeting.

She said the council, which co-ordinates international co-operation and research in the increasingly busy and contested region, must continue to include the concerns and expertise of northerners to inform its work.

“No one knows better than the people who live here how to survive and thrive in the Arctic environment — this land of intense cold, strong winds, and darkness we face much of the year.”

This northern meeting is taking place under a slight diplomatic chill.

Council members have viewed with some alarm recent Russian activities in the Arctic, which have included large military exercises involving tens of thousands of troops — far more than any other Arctic nation has or could mobilize in the North.

Canadian Defence Minister Jason Kenney has called those actions aggressive.

As well, Aglukkaq has promised to take up Russia’s activities in Ukraine with that country’s representative.

Russia did not send Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Environment Minister Sergei Donskoi was attending instead.

Just Posted

Scares and chills await at haunted house in Red Deer

Zed Haunted House helps raise money for Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer District

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

Queens raised $12,035 for the Central Alberta Cancer Centre.

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Turkey to reveal details of probe into Khashoggi’s killing

ISTANBUL — In a sign of growing pressure on Saudi Arabia, Turkey… Continue reading

Utah truck driver is jailed without bond after crash kills 6

HEBER, Utah — A man suspected of driving under the influence remained… Continue reading

A ragged, growing army of migrants resumes march toward US

TAPACHULA, Mexico — A ragged army of Honduran migrants streamed through southern… Continue reading

Postal workers to begin strikes in 4 Canadian cities Monday if deal not reached

OTTAWA — The union representing 50,000 Canada Post employees says it will… Continue reading

Migrant caravan swells to 5,000, resumes advance toward US

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the… Continue reading

“I don’t feel real”: Mental stress mounting after Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Amy Cross has a hard time explaining the… Continue reading

Toronto residents set to vote Monday on the next four years of civic leaders

Toronto’s municipal election campaign, marked by unprecedented provincial interference, ends Monday when… Continue reading

Former PQ minister Lise Payette remembered as role model for female politicians

MONTREAL — Members from across Quebec’s political spectrum gathered at a downtown… Continue reading

Most Read