As part of a U.S. – Canada statement on climate, energy and Arctic leadership released by the White House and the Prime Minister’s Office on March 10, the following text pertained to the two countries’ commonly expressed position on Arctic issues:
Beyond deepening cooperation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – which will have an outsized impact on the long-term health of the global Arctic – President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau are announcing a new partnership to embrace the opportunities and to confront the challenges in the changing Arctic, with Indigenous and Northern partnerships, and responsible, science-based leadership. Arctic communities rest on the territories of Indigenous peoples, who possess a wealth of knowledge, distinct ways of life, and a richness of cultural diversity. It is home to natural marine, land and air migrations that know no borders. It is also the frontline of climate change. Acting for a shared future, we call on all Arctic nations and those with Arctic interests to embrace a new future for Arctic leadership, with our four objectives:
Conserving Arctic biodiversity through science-based decision making. Canada and the U.S. re-affirm our national goals of protecting at least 17% of land areas and 10% of marine areas by 2020. We will take concrete steps to achieve and substantially surpass these national goals in the coming years. Specifically, we will work directly with Indigenous partners, state, territorial and provincial governments to establish this year a new, ambitious conservation goal for the Arctic based on the best available climate science and knowledge, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. We will also play a leadership role in engaging all Arctic nations to develop a pan-Arctic marine protection area network.
Incorporating Indigenous science and traditional knowledge into decision-making. Canada and the U.S. are committed to collaborating with Indigenous and Arctic governments, leaders, and communities to more broadly and respectfully include Indigenous science and traditional knowledge into decision making, including in environmental assessments, resource management, and advancing our understanding of climate change and how best to manage its effects.
Building a sustainable Arctic economy. We confirm that for commercial activities in the Arctic – including shipping, fishing, and oil and gas exploration and development – we will set a world-class standard by basing development decisions and operations on scientific evidence. Further, commercial activities will occur only when the highest safety and environmental standards are met, including national and global climate and environmental goals, and Indigenous rights and agreements. Canada and the U.S. will work to develop this year a shared and science-based standard for considering the life-cycle impacts of commercial activities in the Arctic.
Low impact shipping corridors: We will work together to establish consistent policies for ships operating in the region, taking into account important ecological and cultural areas, vessel traffic patterns, Indigenous and Northern Arctic input, and increased cooperation of our Coast Guards. The two countries will also work together to share assessments of navigation data quality and capacities for supporting safe and low-impact shipping in the Beaufort Sea. In addition, we will determine with Arctic partners how best to address the risks posed by heavy fuel oil use and black carbon emissions from Arctic shipping.
Abundant Arctic fish: The leaders call for a binding international agreement to prevent the opening of unregulated fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean to preserve living marine resources and promote scientific research in the region. Canada offers to host the next round of negotiations, to continue momentum and build on a precautionary, science-based principle to commercial fishing that both countries have put in place in their Arctic waters.
Science-based approach to oil and gas: If oil and gas development and exploration proceeds, activities must align with science-based standards between the two nations that ensure appropriate preparation for operating in Arctic conditions, including robust and effective well control and emergency response measures.
Supporting strong Arctic communities. We commit to defining new approaches and exchanging best practices to strengthen the resilience of Arctic communities and continuing to support the well-being of Arctic residents, in particular respecting the rights and territory of Indigenous peoples. All Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic are vital to strengthening and supporting U.S. and Canadian sovereignty claims. We commit to working in partnership to implement land claims agreements to realize the social, cultural and economic potential of all Indigenous and Northern communities. With partners, we will develop and share a plan and timeline for deploying innovative renewable energy and efficiency alternatives to diesel and advance community climate change adaptation. We will do this through closer coordination among Indigenous, state, provincial, and territorial governments and the development of innovative options for housing and infrastructure. We also commit to greater action to address the serious challenges of mental wellness, education, Indigenous language, and skill development, particularly among Indigenous youth.
In moving forward, we welcome the upcoming White House Arctic Science Ministerial this fall, which will bring together Science Ministers from nations with Arctic interests, and the twentieth anniversary of the Ottawa Declaration, which established the Arctic Council in 1996. Canada and the U.S. commit to a regular bilateral dialogue to ensure progress towards the realization of these objectives, to continuing their strong cooperation on scientific work and research, and to advancing our shared Arctic leadership model through the Arctic Council.