Lands and Environment Politics

PM Trudeau and President Obama Release Joint Statement on Arctic

Ahead of a joint press conference in Washington later this morning, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Barack Obama released a joint statement on climate, energy, and Arctic policy.

In their statement, the two heads of government committed to sign and implement the Paris Agreement “as soon as feasible.” The leaders agreed to coordinate domestic climate action, including the regulation of existing sources of methane emissions in the oil and gas sector. Finally, Trudeau and Obama pledged to cooperate on clean energy initiatives, such as integrating renewable sources of energy into their interconnected power grids.

Of most interest to Northern audiences, however, were the strong statements made on the rights of Indigenous peoples in the Arctic. In a departure from the previous Canadian government’s position, the leaders agreed to work together on conserving the Arctic environment “through science-based decision making”, as well as by incorporating Indigenous science and traditional-knowledge into decision making processes.

Trudeau and Obama pledged to build a sustainable Arctic economy, basing policy decisions about commercial activities in the Arctic on scientific evidence. For example, the two countries will work together on establishing “low impact” shipping corridors – a commitment that could have implications for commercial access to the Northwest Passage, an ongoing minor disagreement between the two countries.

In unusually strong language for a US president, the joint statement vowed that both countries would support strong Arctic communities and the rights of Indigenous peoples. The statement goes on to say:

All Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic are vital to strengthening and supporting U.S. and Canadian sovereignty claims. We commit to working in partnership to implement land claims agreements to realize the social, cultural and economic potential of all Indigenous and Northern communities.

The leaders will work with provincial/territorial, state, and Indigenous governments to implement this Arctic strategy.

A joint press conference will be held at 11:40 AM Eastern Time.

You can read the full statement here.


Photo credit: istockphoto/spaceliner, “Hubbard Glacier, Alaska.”

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