US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced on Thursday that Washington will take its time in reviewing its climate change policy in wake of Arctic nation's renewed calls for the world to address climate warming.
The Trump administration has not come out with a decision on whether the USA will pull out of the Paris Climate accord signed under President Obama.
Environmental campaigners were given some hope that the USA may stick to its commitments under the Paris climate change treaty when Rex Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state, signed a commitment to protect the Arctic and extend scientific co-operation.
"Ocean Conservancy urges President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to join these Arctic States in honoring and implementing the landmark agreement to tackle global climate change", says Jones.
"On certain issues we have different points of view", Freeland, a fierce critic of Russia's actions in Ukraine and Crimea, said in Russian, while looking directly at the Russian delegation. Eegeesiak shared, "We need to take a moment to step back and observe where we have come from, where we are now, and where we want to go", she said.
Delegates plan to continue work on several issues, including climate change, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US will remain a member of the council.
Trump and some of his top administration officials have expressed deep skepticism in climate change, despite overwhelming agreement among scientists that it is real and caused by humans.
The worst-case scenario feared by some would be that Tillerson used this gathering to announce the US would withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
Signing on to the Arctic Council declaration is, in some ways, a remarkable example of the State Department's contradictory position in the Trump administration.
It puts them in opposition to Nordic countries, which last week emphasised their commitment to the Paris Agreement and noted "with grave concern" the rapid pace of change in the Arctic. Tillerson, a former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, is one of Trump's advisers who supports staying in the agreement.
Climate change was the elephant in the room Thursday as the US handed over chairmanship of the Arctic Council to Finland. The declaration claims that the Arctic is getting warmer twice as fast as the rest of the world and blames climate change as the primary threat to Arctic biodiversity.
The treatment of climate change in the meeting's final declaration is expected to draw particular scrutiny.
In addition to the USA and Sweden, the other council nations are Russia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland.
"We are here to say something about ourselves", Gilbert said, reminding his audience that his people have lived within the state that is now called Alaska for thousands of years.
Several of the foreign ministers said their goal remains to strike a balance between protecting the fragile Arctic environment while preserving and creating more jobs.
David Balton, a deputy assistant secretary of State, said other accomplishments included an agreement for scientific cooperation among Arctic nations, an assessment of improvements needed for better telecommunications, and implementation of a database of ships passing through the Arctic.
Finland's Foreign Minister Timo Soini, whose country will chair the council for the next two years, praised United States leadership in the Arctic Council but added that the Paris Agreement is an important tool in fighting climate change.