Center for American Progress

RELEASE: As U.S. Chairing of Arctic Council Expires, Tillerson Has Chance to Protect U.S. Economic and Security Interests
Press Release

RELEASE: As U.S. Chairing of Arctic Council Expires, Tillerson Has Chance to Protect U.S. Economic and Security Interests

Washington, D.C. — The Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting this week marks the end of the United States’ chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the U.S. representative on the council, is expected to chair the meeting where the U.S. has an opportunity to reaffirm long-standing commitments to safeguard the Arctic from the effects of climate change.

In an issue brief released today, the Center for American Progress argues that it is critical that the U.S. maintain these commitments and for the Trump administration to buck their current trend of ignoring the extreme threats facing the Arctic and reach a binding agreement to strengthen international science cooperation and deepen understanding of rapid Arctic warming and its consequences.

“No place on Earth is warming as fast as the Arctic and few places on Earth have such a wide-ranging effect on the rest of the planet,” said Cathleen Kelly, CAP Senior Fellow and co-author of the issue brief. “Secretary Tillerson will cap the United States’ chairing of the Arctic Council next week, where it is critical that he broker commitments to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change on this vulnerable area. A melting Arctic is an economic and security nightmare, one which the United States should be leading the charge to avoid. Contrary to the Trump administration’s efforts to date, they should not let this opportunity slip by to make real strides in protecting the Arctic.”

Arctic warming is estimated to cause damage to infrastructure, homes, communities, and businesses as global sea levels rise and extreme weather continues to proliferate. One report estimates that the cost of this damage could climb to $90 trillion by 2100. It poses a significant national security risk, as these same threats could affect military assets and resources as well as disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. Efforts to combat these threats in the Arctic will require the kind of diplomatic interest and acumen the Trump administration has yet to show. Secretary Tillerson has an opportunity to advance U.S. and global interests by solidifying commitments to protect the Arctic. It is imperative he do so.

Click here to read the issue brief.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.