Obama's upcoming visit to Anchorage: A little bit climate, a little bit Arctic

WASHINGTON -- The Aug. 31 conference that will bring President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and a slew of foreign ministers to Anchorage will be an Arctic-climate hybrid event, according to the State Department.

The so-called "GLACIER" conference isn't an official event of the Arctic Council, and it's "not directly related" to the ongoing United Nations climate change negotiations, which the White House hopes will result in an international climate change agreement in Paris in December, the State Department said.

Its aim is somewhere in the middle.

"This conference will, however, help to focus attention on the challenges and opportunities that the Arctic Council intends to address and highlight how a region vulnerable to climate change is experiencing and responding to these impacts, helping to drive political will for ambitious action at" the Paris meetings later this year, the State Department said in a statement.

The meeting's agenda is still under development by the State Department, the White House and other agencies "with Arctic responsibilities," the department said.

It won't just be Obama, Kerry and high-level foreign ministers -- the conference is said to include scientists, policymakers and Alaska and Arctic residents.

Other as-yet-unnamed U.S. Cabinet secretaries will be in attendance, the State Department said. The U.S. invited foreign ministers from Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Union.


The conference "will discuss individual and collective action to address climate change in the Arctic; raise the visibility of climate impacts in the Arctic as a harbinger for the world, and the Arctic's unique role in global climate change; identify ways that Arctic innovators are responding to these critical challenges; and share opportunities to prepare and respond to other issues in the changing Arctic," the State Department said. Some sessions and panels will be open to the public.

Other topics at hand will include emergency response, unregulated Arctic fisheries and community health.

Erica Martinson

Erica Martinson is Alaska Dispatch News' Washington, DC reporter, and she covers the legislation, regulation and litigation that impact the Last Frontier.  Erica came to ADN after years as a reporter covering energy at POLITICO. Before that, she covered environmental policy at a DC trade publication and worked at several New York dailies.