photo-U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo participates in the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland, on May 7. State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha
For the first time since it was founded in 1996, the Arctic Council didn't release a joint declaration outlining its priorities after a summit in Rovaniemi, Finland Monday and Tuesday. The reason? The insistence by the U.S. that the statement not mention climate change or the Paris agreement designed to combat it, The New York Times reported.
The U.S. objections come as the Arctic just experienced its five warmest years on record, and is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world.
"The others felt they could not water down climate change sentences," Finnish delegate Timo Koivurova told BBC News.
Instead, the council, which consists of eight Arctic nations, as well as indigenous communities in the region, issued a brief statement pledging its "commitment to maintain peace, stability and constructive co-operation in the Arctic," as Time reported.
The council, whose members include the U.S., Canada, Russia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland, meets every two years to discuss environmental and economic issues in the region, BBC News explained. Its statements are agreed to by consensus, which means any member country can block them, according to The New York Times.
Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini, whose country has chaired the council for the last two years with a focus on climate change, told the press he didn't want to "name and blame anybody" and called the summit's outcome "good enough," according to Time. However, in other statements he made it clear that the U.S. was isolated in its climate denial.