U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed his name Thursday to a document that affirms the need for international action against climate change, adding further uncertainty to the direction of climate policy under the Trump administration.
The document, signed by Tillerson and seven foreign ministers from Arctic nations meeting this week in Fairbanks, Alaska, says the participants concluded their meeting “noting the entry into force of the Paris agreement on climate change and its implementation, and reiterating the need for global action to reduce both long-lived greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants.”
Called the Fairbanks Declaration, the document says the leaders signed it “recognizing that activities taking place outside the Arctic region, including activities occurring in Arctic states, are the main contributors to climate change effects and pollution in the Arctic, and underlining the need for action at all levels.”
The Trump administration has been in conflict for months over what to do about U.S. involvement in the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord, which commits nearly 200 nations to establishing goals to reduce emissions that lead to climate change.
Trump has repeatedly questioned climate science, calling climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese and vowing during his campaign to “cancel” the Paris agreement.
His administration has aggressively begun trying to dismantle many of the climate policies created under the Obama administration, including federal rules to phase out coal-fired power plants, increase restrictions on vehicle emissions and limit methane leaks from natural gas production. The administration has announced reviews of Obama’s decisions to limit offshore drilling and is reconsidering national monument designations made over the last two decades.
While some of Trump’s closest aides have urged him to do withdraw from the Paris accord, experts say such a move could stir diplomatic tension with other nations. Tillerson, the former chief executive of Exxon, is among those who have argued that the U.S. should keep its commitment.