WASHINGTON (CN) – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed a declaration Thursday acknowledging the threat climate change poses to arctic and the need to scale back its potential damage, but he stopped short of committing the US to any specific role in addressing it.
The former ExxonMobil CEO signed the Fairbanks Declaration during a meeting of the Arctic Council, which he chairs.
But it comes at a time when the Trump administration has yet to declare its intentions regarding continued US participation in the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.
The accord, signed by nearly 200 countries, commits participants to taking definitive steps to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are seen as contributing to an acceleration of climate change.
President Donald Trump has expressed skepticism about both climate change and the accord, and has said he’ll decide whether the United States remains part of the deal before he heads to Europe later this month.
A meeting on accord — and the future role of the United States in it — was to have been the subject of a White House meeting Tuesday afternoon. That meeting was abruptly cancelled.
The Arctic Council is comprised of several indigenous groups and eight countries whose territories intersect in the arctic.
As he signed the document, Tillerson said it is clear the region faces a serious threat from climate change.
But he was quick to add that the US will take its time to understand the full range of concerns in the region, and that his signature should not be interpreted as a promise of any specific action by the Trump administration.
“We’re not going to rush to make a decision. We’re going to make the right decision for the United States,” Tillerson said.