The United States joined seven other nations in the Arctic Council on May 11 in calling for greater efforts to combat climate change, which is rapidly warming the polar region.
Despite climate skepticism expressed by many in the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, the group comprising the United States, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden said it was concerned about the rapid rise in Arctic temperatures and pegged it to human activity outside the region.
The Arctic is warming at double the rate of the rest of the planet, with average temperatures up 3.5 degrees Centigrade since the beginning of the 20th century, leading to rapid loss of glacial ice and permafrost.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who hosted the council meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, signed onto the group's call for global action to reduce greenhouse gases, though he cautioned that the White House still has not decided whether it will continue to honor the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
Tillerson, who within the administration has argued for staying in the agreement, told the council the Trump administration will not rush to make a decision.
"We are going to make the right decision for the United States," he said.