US outlines strategy for Arctic Council, puts climate on top

A senior Arctic official for the U.S. unveiled the nation’s priorities this week as it readies to take over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council next year, and climate change is on top.

Julie Gourley laid out Secretary of State John Kerry’s priorities, which put climate change in the top three objectives for the U.S.

The goals: address climate change impacts, organize effective stewardship of the Arctic Ocean, and improve economic and living conditions.

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In a presentation on Thursday in Yellowknife, Canada, before other Arctic nations, Gourley said the U.S. wants to promote reigning in carbon and methane emissions in their home countries.

According to a copy of Gourley’s presentation, U.S. will increase data collection of carbon emissions that affect the Arctic, add more physical monitoring stations and improve the ability to monitor methane releases in the Arctic.

The U.S. wants to also develop a digital elevation model of the Arctic to improve climate modeling, and knowledge of freshwater movements.

The model would help create an “early warning system” that identifies key changes in they physical, biological, social and economic terrain connected to climate impacts in the region.

With the U.S. at the head of the council, Kerry wants to work on information sharing among oil producers that are operating in the Arctic, such as oil spill preparedness, response and pollution control.

Finally, the U.S. will direct other council members toward pushing renewable energy for villages in the Arctic.