International Climate Change Negotiations
Paula J. Dobriansky
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
Oral Statement Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
November 13, 2007
International Climate Change Negotiations
Mr. Chairman, thank you. I am submitting a longer testimony for the record.
Climate change is a serious problem, and humans are contributing to it. We are at a critical moment. Addressing this global challenge requires substantial global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. And we are committed to doing our part.
At this December's climate conference in Bali, we will work with our partners to launch a new phase in climate diplomacy. We seek a "Bali Roadmap" that will advance negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and develop a post-2012 framework that effectively addresses climate change and strengthens our energy security. The United States is committed to concluding this effort by 2009.
I recently attended a meeting of key heads of delegation in Bogor, Indonesia to prepare the way for a successful meeting in Bali. I was encouraged to hear broad support for a Bali Roadmap and for a 2009 end date. At the Bogor meeting, ministers identified four key elements that a Bali Roadmap will need to address: mitigation, adaptation to the impacts of climate change, finance, and technology.
Key Considerations in Developing a Post-2012 Framework
We enter the Bali meeting with an open mind, prepared to consider ideas proposed by our negotiating partners, in pursuit of a post-2012 framework that successfully rises to the scale and scope of this challenge. Our deliberations will be guided by two considerations: a post-2012 framework must be environmentally effective and economically sustainable.
Emissions are global and the solution, to be effective, will need to be global. We want the world's largest emitters, including the United States, to be part of a global agreement. An approach in which only some are acting is not environmentally effective.
A future framework must be flexible and accommodate a diverse range of national circumstances. A future framework must also be cost effective and economically sustainable. We must develop and bring to market clean energy technologies at a cost that countries can justify to their citizens.
Major Economies Process
The Major Economies process launched by President Bush in May 2007 is intended to contribute to progress toward a global agreement under the UNFCCC. Our aim is to find a formula that can work for all major economies and achieve consensus next year on key elements for a post-2012 framework.
The September 27-28 Major Economies Meeting here in Washington marked an excellent start. We brought together 17 economies, representing some 80% of the world's economy, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions. UN representatives were also at the table with us. The Major Economies agreed that we would convene again in the new year, informed by our deliberations in Bali.
We believe the Major Economies process will make a positive contribution to efforts under the UNFCCC by focusing on certain key elements of a future global framework. We can work together to develop a long-term global goal for emissions reductions. We can identify national plans that will put us on the path toward this global goal, with each country designing its own mix of binding, market-based, and voluntary measures. We can identify technology development and deployment strategies for key sectors - such as advanced coal technologies and second-generation biofuels - working with the private sector, civil society, and international partners. We can explore ways to improve our measurement and accounting systems. We can discuss options for financing and eliminating barriers to trade in clean energy goods and services. And we can address forestry, adaptation, and technology access.
Forests, Adaptation, and Technology
Let me highlight these last three issues -- forestry, adaptation, and technology access -- because they will be critical to our discussions in the UNFCCC and the Major Economies .
Avoided deforestation is a priority for Indonesia and many other developing countries, and it will be a focus of discussions in Bali. The United States is an international leader in promoting forest conservation. For example:
Under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, we have concluded with 12 countries debt-for-nature agreements that are generating $163 million to help conserve up to 20 million hectares of important tropical forests around the world.
We are combating illegal logging and the export of illegally harvested forest products in Africa, Asia, and Latin America through the President's Initiative Against Illegal Logging.
Through the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, we have contributed $68 million to better manage 80 million hectares - an area the size of Texas - in the world's second largest tropical forest.
Adaptation is an increasing priority both at home and internationally, and we are promoting effective planning as part of broader development strategies. The United States is leading efforts such as the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), which gives communities early warning of natural disasters, and improves decision-making for agriculture, coastal development and other economic sectors that are affected by climate variability and change .
And, to accelerate the uptake of clean energy technologies around the world, President Bush has proposed a new international clean technology fund. Secretary Paulson is working with international partners in developing a new approach for spurring investments in the global energy infrastructure that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Another Administration initiative that is engaging key economies in dealing with climate change is the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP), a public private partnership to promote economic growth, enhance energy security, and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
Under this partnership, countries that account for some 50% of the global economy, emissions, and energy use are putting clean technologies into widespread use. Canada just joined China, India, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and the United States in this partnership.
Through the APP, American Electric Power, the Southern Company and other leading U.S. firms have been working with Chinese electricity producers to move them toward U.S. levels of efficiency, which reduces emissions and toxic air pollution - and fosters new trade relationships.
The APP has brought to India state-of-the-art U.S. technologies for mining and preparing coal in ways that reduce sulfur dioxide emissions, cut greenhouse gas emissions and increase mine safety.
And throughout APP countries, we are fostering best practices in the cement, aluminum, and steel sectors that save money, reduce emissions, and increase international investment.
Advanced coal technologies are a particular focus within and beyond the APP. The United States has invested more than $2.5 billion to research and develop clean coal since 2001.
In conclusion, the scale of the climate challenge calls for comprehensive, international action for generations to come. We are engaged, serious, pragmatic, and committed to continued leadership internationally.
Finally, I'd like to introduce Dan Reifsnyder, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science at the State Department, who was Deputy Negotiator of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1989, and has participated in almost every Conference of the Parties. He will be with us in Bali. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Released on November 13, 2007