In respect of the Paris climate agreement, the international community should engage with the United States on obligations it may partially commit to instead of attacking the US for its decision to quit the accord, the foreign minister said on Thursday.
The international community must accept the US decision “as a given”, Péter Szijjártó told MTI by phone from Oulu ahead of a high-level European Union Arctic conference.
“Notwithstanding the torrent of criticism, the US president will not back down from his decision,” Szijjártó said. “We now have to approach the situation pragmatically and realistically, and ask ourselves how we can achieve the best possible result in connection with the Paris climate deal,” the minister added.
“Therefore we urge the international community to also take note of the second part of the US president’s reasoning behind quitting the agreement, namely that the US is pulling out of the accord but it is ready to renegotiate the obligations it imposes,” he said.
He argued that talks need to be started with the US on obligations they are willing to comply with because “it is far more preferable to have the US at least partially honour its existing commitments … than to have them quit the agreement altogether”.
Outlining his address to the conference, Szijjártó said he would speak about the economic, security and environmental effects the melting ice in the Arctic has on Europe. Citing scientific estimates, he said it was not out of the question that the entire Arctic ice cap could disappear within 20-40 years, leading to a re-drawing of global trade routes.
The disappearance of the Arctic ice cap would allow goods from the Far East to be shipped to Europe via the Arctic Ocean along the northern coasts of Russia, a far shorter route than the current one going through the Suez Canal, Szijjártó said.
The disappearance of Arctic ice could also allow for the exploitation of oil and gas reserves in the region, Szijjártó said, noting that the Arctic holds 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil resources and around 30 percent of its natural gas resources. The exploitation of these resources would no doubt fundamentally change Europe’s energy security situation, he said.
Szijjártó said Arctic oil and gas was the likely reason behind recent territorial disputes in the region.