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Finland Sets Arctic Council Chairmanship Goals, Urges Continued Cooperation

Finland pledges Arctic cooperation … 

President Trump announced Thursday he’ll begin withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord adopted by his predecessor and leaders of 194 other nations in 2015. But the U.S. administration apparently intends to continue participating in another multinational effort by eight Arctic nations.

Credit U.S. State Department video screengrab
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told fellow Arctic Council foreign ministers at the May 11 Fairbanks Ministerial that America would continue to participate in the council. But, he added, "We’re going to work to make the right decision for the United States."

“The Arctic Council, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, has proven to be an indispensable forum in which we can pursue cooperation,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last month at the Arctic Council’s 10th ministerial meeting in Fairbanks.

“I want to affirm that the United States will continue to be an active member in this council,” he saidin introductory remarks before relinquishing the two-year council chairmanship to Finland.

Credit Finnish Meteorological Institute
Juhani Damski, director general of the Finnish Meteorological Institute: "It’s quite clear that we wouldn’t be here without cooperation with all the other Arctic countries ..."

Finland’s delegation to the Fairbanks Ministerial emphasized the need for cooperation and participation in pursuit of the four goalsthe nation has set for its term as council chair. Those include protecting the Arctic environment; expanding high-speed internet connectivity in the region; improving educational opportunities for the people who live or want to study here; and greater cooperation on meteorological observation and forecasting around the region. 

“It’s quite clear that we wouldn’t be here without cooperation with all the other Arctic countries, as well as all the other countries in the whole world,” said Juhani Damski, director general of the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Credit Finnish Meteorological Institute
The Finnish Meteorological Institute's network of sensors produces many different kinds of reports for its citizens and Arctic partners, including a variety of reports on sea-ice conditions to help ships navigate the busy waters of the Baltic Sea.

Damski said in a talkduring the ministerial that institute staff has gathered extensive weather and climate data since it was founded in 1828.

“So we have been doing measurements in Finland for 180 years already,” he said.

Damski said those years of observations will give researchers a larger data set that’ll help researchers develop a more complete picture of the region’s climate.

“This is a legacy that has been given to us,” he said, adding Finland will share that legacy with its Arctic Council partners. It’ll also offer its expertise on weather forecasting that’s based mainly on a network of satellite-based sensors. He says the network will help Arctic nations monitor sea ice, oil spills, wildfires and volcanic eruptions.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.