U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed an agreement recognizing the landmark Paris climate accord at a meeting of Arctic nations in Alaska on Thursday, but said President Donald Trump was not rushing to decide whether to leave or weaken U.S. commitments to the pact.
Trump’s efforts to dilute U.S. climate policies have made the country an outlier on the issue and put Tillerson in an awkward position at a meeting of the Arctic Council.
The council meets every two years to tackle climate change and other problems facing the North. The Arctic is warming at a faster pace than any other part of the world, forcing native villagers on coasts and rivers in the region to move to higher ground as permafrost and glaciers melt and seas rise.
Global warming also puts stress on wildlife such as walruses and polar bears as they lose their habitat areas.
The Arctic agreement Tillerson signed with foreign ministers from the other seven nations of the council, including Russia, Canada and Norway, made only a passing reference to the Paris pact. It noted “entry into force” of the pact and its implementation and called for global action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.