In the hands of the Senior Arctic Officials

When the Senior Arctic Officials met in Svartsengi, Iceland, a few weeks after the London Policy Drafting Team meeting, there was no longer any doubt about the US intention to stop the policy process in its present form. Most of the discussions went on behind the scenes. For example, the Permanent Participants prepared a formal statement of protest to be read by the chair of the Indigenous Peoples Secretariat, but this was neither tabled nor voiced because the chair of the Senior Arctic Officials reportedly made a behind the scenes plea to keep things together. An individual present at this discussion said that it was claimed that the Permanent Participants' statement would create too much conflict on the floor.166 The presentations of ACIA's science and policy documents to the Senior Arctic Officials were post-poned while there were informal consultations between the Senior Arctic Officials' chair, the Senior Arctic Officials, and a rep

162 Interview 4.

163 Interview Terry Fenge, May 3, 2004. For a detailed account of the policy procss as seen from the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, see Watt-Cloutier, et al. "Responding to Global Climate Change: The View of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference on the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment."

164 Interview 10.

165 Letter to Sally K. Brandel, Senior Arctic Official, US Department of State from Chuck Greene, ICC Alaska October 17, 2003.

166 Interview 27.

resentative of the Permanent Participants. The outcomes of these meetings were presented to the whole group in very short form and without any discussion.167 In the draft protocol, this is reflected as follows: "The SAO-Chair informed the meeting of ongoing consultations among SAOs and Permanent Participants on the timetable of the policy documents and proposed to put forth a Chair's proposal as to how to take work forward as regards the timelines of the policy document. The Chair's proposal was met with approval."168 According to one Senior Arctic Official, this way of carrying out sensitive discussions outside the formal meeting is in no way unusual for the Arctic Council, "where sensitive issues are not discussed at all at the table or only in coded form."169

Although the document from the United States precipitated the change in process, other countries' policy representatives expressed that change was a necessary move on the part of the Senior Arctic Officials. There was nothing extraordinary about it and the reaction from the United States was in many ways expected to come sooner or later. It was more of a surprise that it had not come earlier. In the words of one policy representative, there was a sensitivity attached to the policy text that could not be addressed by the Policy Drafting Team. Also emphasized during this interview was that it was not uncommon in science-based processes and that there is a certain disconnect between the aspirations of science workers and the reality within which policy makers have to oper-ate.170 Another country's policy representative has said that it was a mistake that the Senior Arctic Officials did not take responsibility for the policy process earlier.171 A third comment was that: "This is a policy paper. Policy is decided in the ministries and at the political level, not at the level of government agencies."172 The shift in responsibility is also in line with comments earlier in the ACIA process of keeping a clear line of separation between science and policy.173

As a result of the decision to discontinue the policy process in the present form, the Senior Arctic Officials' chair wrote a letter to the chairmen of AMAP and CAFF stating that:

Consultation among the SAOs and the Permanent Participants have revealed that there is no longer a common basis for continuing work on the ACIA policy document in accordance with the timetable presented by the AMAP chair. This means that the matter of continuance of the ACIA policy document now reverts back to the SAOs and that further meeting of the Policy Drafting Team, would be called through you only at request of the SAOs.174

167 Interview 11.

168 Draft minutes of the Arctic Council Meeting of Senior Arctic Officials, Svartsengi, 23-24 October 2004 (sic) (in Agenda for Arctic Council Meeting of Senior Arctic Officials, Selfoss, Iceland, May, 2004.

169 Interview 31.

170 Interview 63.

171 Interview 61.

172 Interview 31.

173 Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials Meeting, Fairbanks, Alaska, April 27-28, 2000. Minutes revised 10/12/00. Agenda Item 7.

174 Letter to Mr. Helgi Jensson, Chairman of AMAP and Mr. Kent Wohl, Chairman of CAFF from Gun-nar Palsson, Chairman of Senior Arctic Officials, November 10, 2003.

In addition, the letter requests that the London draft be transmitted to the Senior Arctic Officials' chair. They responded by sending the London draft and stating that all planned meetings of the Policy Drafting Team had been cancelled. Furthermore, the upcoming joint AMAP-CAFF meeting would no longer have the approval of the Policy Document on its agenda, unless the Senior Arctic Officials decided otherwise.175 This letter illustrates how the Senior Arctic Officials used their higher policy positions compared to the AMAP and CAFF co-chairs of the Policy Drafting Team to assert their authority over policy matters. In the case of climate change, it is clearly important to mark the boundaries between science and policy in a more distinct manner than what had been done so far in the ACIA process by creating the Policy Drafting Team separate from scientific assessment group.

The Permanent Participants were less than happy with these developments and decided to turn the statement of protest, that was not read at the Svartsengi meeting, into a formal letter signed by the political leaders of all six Permanent Participants. The letter makes reference back to ACIA's mandate as it was adopted by the Barrow Ministerial: "Given that the mandate of this work comes from the Ministers of the Arctic Council countries, we have no option but to continue until that mandate is formally altered."176 With reference to the Arctic Council Rules of Procedure and the value, both in substance and symbol, of having indigenous peoples involved in both the science and policy of the Arctic Council they stressed that "the Permanent Participants should continue to be involved in finalizing this important work and reviewing the potential proposals for changing how this work is to be carried out."177 From their perspective, there was not just a policy document in danger, but also at stake was the model of cooperation in the Arctic region, i.e. the political legitimacy of the Arctic Council for the indigenous peoples in the region. This perspective became very clear in an interview with a representative of one of the Permanent Participants, who discussed how Permanent Participants, on several occasions, felt that the spirit of cooperation between member states and indigenous peoples was compromised, for example by situations that gave them less access to meetings because the meeting room was too small or that there were not enough seats booked on a flight. Formally they were only allowed one representative each while each member state was allowed two. The following quote illustrates his perception of the dynamics: "We were ill treated during the negotiation. It was obvious that it was more important that the seven other states had an opportunity to discuss with the United States. If we had something to add, it was seen as monkey wrenching."178 The

175 Letter to Mr. Gunnar Pálsson, Chairman of the Senior Arctic Officials from Helgi Jensson, AMAP Chair and Kent Wohl, CAFF Chair, December 2, 2003.

176 Letter to Ambassador Gunnar Pálsson, Chair, Senior Arctic Officials from Michael Zacharof, President Aleut International Association, Joe Linklater, Chair Gwich'in Council International, Pavel Suly-andziga, Vice-President RAIPON, Cindy Dickson, Executive Director Arctic Athabascan Council, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, International Chair Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and Geir Tommy Pedersen, President Saami Council, 8 December 2003.

177 Letter to Ambassador Gunnar Pálsson, Chair, Senior Arctic Officials from Michael Zacharof, President Aleut International Association, Joe Linklater, Chair Gwich'in Council International, Pavel Suly-andziga, Vice-President RAIPON, Cindy Dickson, Executive Director Arctic Athabascan Council, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, International Chair Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and Geir Tommy Pedersen, President Saami Council, 8 December 2003.

178 Interview 69. A similar picture comes out in interview 34.

high priority to keep the discussion with the United States going was confirmed in an interview with one of the Nordic Senior Arctic Officials, who has said that this was one reason it was easy to sacrifice the Policy Drafting Team.179 The chair of the Senior Arctic Officials saw the critique from the Permanent Participants as misguided. Asked to comment on the critique about unequal representation in parts of the policy process, he has said: "I cannot share the view, if that is what is being argued, that Permanent Participants should have a status in the Arctic Council equal to that of sovereign member states."180

The Arctic Council records are rather silent about what happened in the policy process after the Senior Arctic Officials took over. However, the US position became public in the Washington-based newsletter Inside EPA, which reported that "some foreign officials and Native American groups suspect the Bush administration is seeking the delay to avoid addressing the politically tricky issue a month before the 2004 presidential election." Moreover, it asserted that US State Department representatives privately asked fellow members of the Arctic Council to delay drafting a policy of global warming in the Arctic until the following fall.181 It is impossible for me to judge to what extent this reporting actually reflects dynamics within the US State Department. A review comment called the information into question. However, one of my interviews support a picture of US internal politics at play.182

In January 2004, the chair of the Senior Arctic Official sent a letter to the member states and the Permanent Participants suggesting that it was now "the prerogative of the SAOs [Senior Arctic Officials] to decide how the policy-work of the ACIA will be carried forward" including determining the form to be given to the recommendations.183 To the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, this indicated a backing away from the principle of policy recommendations as had been agreed upon in the Barrow Declaration.184

Meanwhile, the Danes had been discussing ways to get the process moving again by inviting the Senior Arctic Officials and Permanent Participants to an informal meet-ing.185 Also discussions about major messages in the ACIA were becoming more and more public. For example, The US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation organized a congressional hearing on climate change that featured ACIA's chair Robert Corell.186

By March of the same year, the plans for an informal meeting took a more definitive form as an "ACIA Workshop to be held in Nuuk, Greenland, on 20-22 April at the invi

179 Interview 31.

180 Interview Gunnar Pálsson, January 17, 2005.

181 "US Seeks Delay of Key Arctic Climate Report Until After 2004 Election," Inside EPA 24, no. 45 (2003).

182 Interview 11.

183 Letter from Gunnar Pálsson, chair of the Senior Arctic Officials to Senior Arctic Officials and Permanent Participants of the Arctic Councilas January 13, 2004, quoted in Watt-Cloutier, et al. "Responding to Global Climate Change: The View of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference on the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment," 63.

184 Watt-Cloutier, et al. "Responding to Global Climate Change: The View of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference on the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment," 63.

185 Interviews 11 and 64.

186 US Senate, "Climate Change," Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, 108th Cong, 3 March 2004).

tation of the Kingdom of Denmark."187 This is a visible result of a number of informal meetings that were held to start the process moving.188 The focus at Nuuk was the scientific aspects of the ACIA with an opportunity to address ACIA's policy aspects informally at the margins of the meeting. At the meeting, the letter from the leaders of the six Permanent Participants was placed conspicuously on the table as a reminder of the political stakes the indigenous peoples had put into the process. "If they made a decision to get rid of the policy report, it would have turned into real politics of protest because of the PPs [Permanent Participants]," the Inuit Circumpolar Conference representative at the meeting has said in an interview.189

The policy discussion was put off until the last two hours of the meeting. According to several accounts, each state was given an opportunity to voice their opinion about the policy process, with the United States at the end, because of the common alphabetical seating arrangement in Arctic Council meetings. Each state made it clear that they wanted a policy process and that the London document would be a reasonable starting point leaving the United States to voice its opinion and to come on board with the consensus without explicitly endorsing it.190 According to one source, the Unites States never intended to completely stall the policy document, but felt that as a matter of principle that the science document must come first to follow the process and the format in the IPCC. The effort was to get the process harmonized with the way climate was handled internationally, with the Nuuk meeting providing an opportunity to review the science in its fullness. From the US perspective, the Nuuk meeting, in combination with a number of informal exchanges and meetings, helped loosen things up as it made people realize that the United States had the ambition to come up with something for the November ministerial meeting.191 Another perspective came forth during an interview with a Nordic climate negotiator: "We shouldn't underestimate what happened in the media ... It really came out strong in the media and put the US in a very difficult position."192

The policy process was thus running again, now with the Senior Arctic Officials' chair as its formal leader. What eventually got started was a round of negotiations that took the London document as the starting point.193 One meeting was held in the Haag in August 2004. The negotiations were not moving forward, however, and there was a mounting frustration among the Permanent Participants. In September, the international chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference Sheila Watt-Cloutier testified before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. After connecting observations of Inuit hunters falling through the "depleting and unpredictable sea-ice" to "cars we drive, the industries we rely on, and the disposable world that we have become," she not only asked committee members for solutions to the global debate on climate change but also to look closely at the role of the US State Department. Referring to the ACIA, she said: ". the Department is minimizing and undermining the ef

187 Letter to Senior Arctic Officials and Permanents Participants from Gunnar Pâlsson Chairman of Senior Arctic Officials, 8 March 2004.

188 Interviews 25, 61, 64, and 71.

189 Interview Terry Fenge May 3, 2004.

190 Interviews 27 and 64.

191 Interview 25.

192 Interview 64.

193 Interviews 63, 64, 71.

fectiveness of this assessment process by refusing to allow policy recommendations to be published in a stand alone form just like the assessment itself."194 The publicity led to "press guidance" by the US State Department assuring the press that the United States was not keeping the ACIA report under wraps, which in turn prompted three US senators to write US Secretary of State Colin Powell urging him to assure them that the United States had operated within decisions in the Barrow Declaration.195 As a result of the hearing and the publicity it generated, pressure increased on the United States to come to some agreement in the policy negotiations.

The lack of progress in the policy negotiations was based on fundamental differences of opinion, not only with respect to what needed to be done to address the challenges posed by climate change, but also regarding the relation between science and policy. For example, according to one interview account, there was an unwillingness of one of the parties to paraphrase or draw in any way from the scientific results as it would be an interpretation that had not been done by the experts.196 This is in contrast to the preference expressed by the Inuit Circumpolar Conference for a document that combined explanations of the impact of climate change based on the scientific assessment with clear policy recommendations.197 Another disagreement was on the form that any policy recommendations should take, i.e. should they be in a stand-alone document.198 The disagreements in principle and the public airing of them appears to have created a very tense atmosphere as exemplified by a letter from the chair of the Senior Arctic Officials that pointed out that the public disclosure of the closed meeting between Senior Arctic Officials and the Permanent Participants were fundamentally at odds with the practices in the Arctic Council. The response from the Inuit Circumpolar Conference chair was that her comments had been limited to "defending the integrity of the process."199

Negotiations continued in October in Iceland. On October 30, 2004, the New York Times revealed the findings from the ACIA scientific process in a front-page article with the headline "Big Arctic Peril Seen in Warming," apparently based on a leak of the overview document.200

Just a few days before the ministerial meeting and after several meetings, the Senior Arctic Officials, most of them accompanied by the respective country's chief climate

194 The Testimony of Ms. Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Chair, Inuit Circumpolar Conference given at the Full Committee Hearing: Impact of Climate Change, Wednesday September 15, 2004. SR253. US Senate, "Impacts of Climate Change," Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, 108th Cong. 15 September 2004).

195 Watt-Cloutier, et al. "Responding to Global Climate Change: The View of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference on the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment," 64.

196 Interview 63

197 Watt-Cloutier, et al. "Responding to Global Climate Change: The View of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference on the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment."

198 Interview 61,63, and 64.

199 Letter from Gunnar Pálsson, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials to Senior Arctic Officials and Permanent Participants, October 1, 2004, and Letter from Shiela Watt-Cloutier, Chair Inuit Cicurmpolar Conference to Gunnar Pálsson, Chairman of Senior Arctic Officials to the Arctic Council, October 19, 2004; both as quoted in Watt-Cloutier, et al. "Responding to Global Climate Change: The View of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference on the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment," 65.

200 Andrew C. Revkin, "Big Arctic peril seen in warming," New York Times Page 1, Column 1, October 30, 2004).

negotiator, were able to agree on a text. This became part of the Reykjavik Declaration and the Senior Arctic Officials' Report and was also extracted into a separate document, which was presented publicly at the Arctic Council ministerial meeting in Reykjavik November 24, 2004. There was a collective sigh of relief. To summarize the many informal comments I received at the ministerial meeting, the document had less substance than had been hoped for but was nevertheless something that showed consensus about the importance of climate change for the Arctic and for the future of the Arctic Council.

The final negotiations of the ACIA policy document went on behind closed doors, but several people who participated in the process were willing to share their analysis of its dynamics in interviews. Based on the interviews, most of which were conducted in direct connection with the ministerial meeting, several patterns became apparent.

A dynamic that comes out very clearly is that pressure on the United States, because the contentious nature of the negotiations had come out in the media along side the high visibility of indigenous peoples in the media.201 Added to this public pressure was the fact that the United States had no natural allies in the Arctic Council. The other seven countries and the Permanent Participants all wanted a policy outcome.202 It was difficult to push it too far, however. Potentially, they could have walked away from the negotiations and left the Unites States on its own, as was done in the Kyoto Protocol negotiations at the global level. However building consensus, as a way of working in the Arctic Council, was an important value to the actors involved in the process, making it important to find some kind of compromise.203 Also, a small enough group allowed for frank discussions. This, in combination with informal contacts, helped move the process forward in a way that may have been more difficult in the global setting.204

The negotiations brought out two fundamental conflicts. One of them was the relationship between science and policy documents and the other was the relationship between the regional arena and the global climate policy scene, where the US position was that the Arctic Council was not an appropriate forum for making climate policy.205

Some of the toughest negotiations concerned the language to be used in referring to the findings of the scientific report. For example, should it "recognize concern" or "express concern," and should it "recognize global implications?"206 Negotiation of the final wording surrounding such issues continued until late the last night of negotiations and still required high-level policy approval before the United States could agree.207 A stumbling block earlier in the negotiations was that the United States was not represented at a high enough level in relation to climate policy, which made it difficult to move politically sensitive issues forward.208

201 Interview 59, 64, and 73.

202 Interview 61, 64, and 73.

203 Interviews 59, 61, 63, and 64.

204 Interviews 61, 63, and 64.

205 Interview 59.

206 Interview 64.

207 The final text of the policy document is available at The Ministers of the Arctic Council meeting "Welcome with appreciation the scientific work," "Note with concern the impact throughout the region," and "Recognize that the Arctic climate is a critical component of the global climate system with worldwide implications." An analysis of the text is presented later in this chapter.

208 Interviews 59, 63, 64, and 73.

The political dynamics of the global climate arena played a major role in the ACIA policy process. Some countries brought in climate negotiators from the start and wanted to use the Arctic as a way of getting somewhere in climate policy that had not been possible at the global level.209 Others described it as a way to keep the dialogue with the United States open in a way that had been difficult at the global level.210 The attempts to use the Arctic Council to push a global agenda was not appreciated by the United States, who saw climate policy as an issue that should appropriately be dealt with in the global climate negotiations.211 The United States was not alone in viewing the UNFCCC as the proper arena for climate policy negotiations, but it appears to have been the only actor who actively challenged using the Arctic Council in this context.212 The final high level negotiations with climate policy experts present also indicate that dynamics of the UNFCCC set the tone of negotiations.213 One interviewee's account describes the final negotiations: "In the Arctic Council, ... we don't wait until the 11th hour. We work things out because we work on the basis of consensus ... But if you are in a competitive environment, the rules of the games are different, . like this was like absolutely business as usual."214

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