Executive Summary for May 5th

We review the latest Arctic news, including what’s expected at the upcoming Arctic Council meeting in Fairbanks, a review of past Arctic Council leadership styles, and a look at Donald Trump’s efforts to allow offshore oil drilling in U.S. Arctic waters.

Published on May 5, 2017 Read time Approx. 2 minutes

Finland Prepares to Lead Arctic Council

In one week’s time, the Arctic Council will hold its ministerial meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, where the U.S. will pass the chairmanship on to Finland.

One big outcome expected from the meeting is the signing of an agreement on scientific cooperation. As the Fairbanks News Miner reports, this could make it significantly easier for Arctic researchers to conduct studies across national boundaries.

One big question remains over how the U.S. will behave at the Arctic Council under the Trump administration, which has expressed skepticism about climate change. As Alaska Dispatch News reports, the council makes decisions by consensus, so U.S. dissent could hamper the council’s ability to adopt positions involving climate change’s impacts on the region.

Some Lessons in Arctic Council Leadership

As the Arctic Council prepares for a new chairman, a review of leadership styles of the council’s past chairs may be instructive.

That’s why the Arctic Journal has republished a commentary on this subject, which originally ran in the Arctic Yearbook. It describes how Sweden saw itself as an “honest broker” and sought to find a common vision that Arctic nations could agree upon. Canada, in contrast, tried to impose its own will on the council, leading one observer to note, “The Canadian chairmanship featured lots of leadership – but saw few followers.”

The U.S., meanwhile, managed to find some kind of middle ground: They had their own clear objectives driven by national interests, but they succeeded where Canada at times failed in bridging differences.

Trump Tries to Undo Arctic Drilling Ban

U.S. President Donald Trump kicked off a process late last week to attempt to overturn his predecessor’s decision to ban offshore oil drilling in most of his country’s Arctic waters. But don’t expect any meaningful impact any time soon.

As the Washington Post reports, this move is expected to trigger a year of legal wrangling as conservationists challenge the decision in court. And Trump’s promise that allowing greater offshore oil production will produce thousands of jobs may be at odds with the drop in oil prices in recent years, as the BBC reports.

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