Pompeo says shrinking Arctic sea ice presents 'new opportunities for trade'
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the Arctic, a region that has been significantly impacted by climate change, presents "opportunity and abundance" when it comes to economic opportunity.
"The Arctic is at the forefront of opportunity and abundance," Pompeo said at a meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland, according to reports. "It houses 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil, 30 percent of its undiscovered gas, an abundance of uranium, rare earth minerals, gold, diamonds, and millions of square miles of untapped resources, fisheries galore."
Pompeo added that "steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade," noting that the developments could "potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days."
"Arctic sea lanes could become the 21st century Suez and Panama Canals," he stated.
Pompeo's speech mainly focused on the threats the Trump administration believes Russia and China pose in the Arctic. He never mentioned the term "climate change," according to The Associated Press.
Rather, Pompeo said that Trump was committed "to leveraging resources in environmentally responsible ways."
"America is the world's leader in caring for the environment," Pompeo added, pointing to the reduction in energy-related CO2 and black carbon emissions in the U.S.
CNN, citing the U.S. Global Change Research Program, reported that shrinking levels of sea ice cause warmer temperatures throughout the globe, leading to expedited sea ice melting.
Pompeo's remarks also come as scientists issue increasingly dire warnings about the potential threats posed by climate change. The oldest and most robust sea ice in the Arctic began breaking for the first time in reported history last year, according to The Guardian.
Warm winds and a heat wave caused by climate change reportedly caused the ice to break.
“The Arctic is changing fast. Global warming will change the environmental and economic landscapes of the region. New sea routes and easier access to natural resources will become a reality,” Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini told AP. “But climate change will go even further. It may impact the inter-state relations and security in our region. The Arctic countries have a special responsibility - and a possibility - to preserve the Arctic as a region of peace and stability"
Like President Trump, Pompeo has been critical of the international Paris climate agreement and has dismissed its effectiveness in reducing carbon emissions globally. He also said Sunday that he "can't rank" climate change on a list of national security challenges.
It was reported recently that the Trump administration pushed to have references to climate change removed from an international statement on Arctic policy.