Cablegate: Results of Usg Climate Change Delegation Visit To

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 234320

1. SUMMARY: On September 12, 2003, a delegation of U.S.
government climate change and energy officials, led by Dr.
Harlan Watson, Senior Climate Negotiator and Special
Representative, OES, had a short but full schedule in
Vietnam, including a variety of government meetings and
public diplomacy events. Meetings with Vietnamese
government officials were productive and provided additional
insights regarding strategies for addressing the climate
change issue nationally and in the region. Despite some
criticism concerning the U.S. rejection of the Kyoto
Protocol, the delegation was able to move the conversation
beyond that difference of opinion in order to discuss
positive initiatives of the U.S. government. END SUMMARY

Government Meetings

2. Ministry of Science and Technology: Dr. Watson and the
climate team met with the Vice-Minister of the Ministry of
Science and Technology (MOST) Dr. Bui Manh Hai. Watson and
Hai exchanged views and general information on national
climate change priorities. The Vice-Minister expressed
interest in pursuing joint research and other potential
cooperation opportunities with the US. Watson emphasized
the continuing US commitment to the UN Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC), outlined significant new US
investments in climate science and technology, and
underscored the importance that the US places on
international cooperation in the area of climate change.
With respect to US science initiatives, the Vice-Minister
took particular interest in observation and monitoring. In
that context, he highlighted the beneficial ongoing
cooperation between the US National Weather Service and the
Vietnam Hydrometeorological Service in the fields of
hydrometeorology and weather forecasting. In addition, the
Vice-Minister took note of the upcoming US-GOV Science and
Technology Meeting (November 2003) and suggested that the
subject of climate change be added to the agenda. Dr.
Watson agreed to consider the proposal, concurring that the
S&T meeting might provide an opportune venue for further
discussion of climate change issues and potential areas for

3. Ministry of Industry: The US team met with Mrs. Dang
Phan Thu Huong, Deputy Director, International Cooperation
Department, Ministry of Industry (MOI), as well as with two
other representatives from MOI. Mrs. Huong underscored the
Vietnamese commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, but also
expressed interest in finding other avenues to work together
with the US in areas where our climate interests converge.
Dr. Watson presented an overview of US climate policy,
highlighting USG emissions reductions strategies and the GHG
intensity approach. The conversation and questions focused
largely on a discussion of the US GHG intensity approach.
Ms. Susan Wickwire, US Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), presented information on voluntary programs. Dr.
Rick Bradley, US Department of Energy (DOE), offered a brief
summary of US technology initiatives, concentrating on US-
led international efforts including carbon sequestration and

4. Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment: Dr.
Watson and the climate team engaged in a roundtable
discussion with representatives of the Vietnamese Climate
Change Interagency Working Group (including MONRE, Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, National Centre for Natural Sciences and
Technology, and the Hanoi University of Technology). The
talks were lively and productive, giving both sides a chance
to present and debate certain aspects of their national
climate positions. In his opening presentation, Dr. Watson
provided the group with background on US national
circumstances (from demographics to our energy profile) and
explained President Bush's climate policy. In particular,
Watson emphasized the US commitment to the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), outlined our GHG
intensity approach, and underscored our efforts to advance
the science and technology of climate change - including
significant investments in major S&T and R&D initiatives.
Ms. Wickwire, EPA, presented information on voluntary
programs designed to encourage private sector efforts to
reduce GHG emissions. Dr. Bradley, DOE, outlined USG long-
term climate initiatives with a focus on technology and R&D
activities. He placed particular emphasis on USG efforts in
the areas of hydrogen and carbon sequestration. The GOV
queried the USG at length with respect to the GHG intensity
approach and its connection to Kyoto Protocol targets and
absolute GHG emissions reductions. Following a healthy
debate and elaboration of US national circumstances,
participants agreed that the dialogue had been constructive
and that continued bilateral engagement and promotion of
international cooperation would be a key aspect of
ultimately resolving the global climate change problem.

5. The climate team also called on MONRE Vice-Minister Dr.
Nguyen Cong Thanh. The Vice-Minister underscored Vietnam's
interest in climate change and welcomed the USG's effort to
exchange information. He considered Vietnam vulnerable to
climate change and expressly encouraged the advancement of
all joint US-GOV work on both mitigation and adaptation.
The USG welcomed recent efforts within the UNFCCC to
increase the focus on adaptation. Both sides agreed that it
was important to continue to exchange information as well as
to increase international attention to adaptation issues.
Watson highlighted the importance of finding ways to cope
with climate change that would allow for economic growth,
especially in developing countries. In particular, he
discussed the USG emphasis on advancing the science and
technology of climate change. Watson suggested that an
increased focus on technology be incorporated into the
UNFCCC process. He highlighted the importance of going
beyond short-term approaches to think ahead about longer-
term efforts to resolve climate change. Dr. Bradley, DOE,
provided the Vice-Minister with a very brief explanation of
major US technology initiatives, including US interest in
promoting long-term international cooperation in the areas
of sequestration and hydrogen. Ms. Wickwire, EPA, explained
the US voluntary program approach as trying to harness the
power of the marketplace to achieve environmental
objectives, including the reduction of GHG emissions.

Public Diplomacy Events

6. The Embassy Public Affairs Office convened a press event
for 13 media representatives from local and wire services,
including Reuters-Hanoi. Some of the questions were off-
topic, including a question concerning Agent Orange, but the
majority of the discussion focused on issues such as (i)
determining the U.S. climate mission's purpose, including
whether the U.S. was trying to convince Southeast Asia of an
alternative path to the Kyoto Protocol, (ii) a discussion of
the GHG intensity approach vs. the Kyoto Protocol approach,
and (iii) a number of questions about U.S. initiatives and
programs. Once again, we found that there was little
accurate information about U.S. climate policies and that
this event was a good first step in explaining to Southeast
Asian audiences the robust series of U.S. climate programs.

7. Public Affairs Officer Tom Carmichael hosted a reception
at his home for key players in the Vietnam climate
community. The reception was well-attended by a good cross-
section of government and NGO representatives, providing a
valuable opportunity to further communicate President Bush's
climate policy message and allowing the U.S. technical
experts an additional opportunity to talk more in-depth
about their program activity with their Vietnamese

--------------------------------------------- ----
EPA's Side Meetings ON Energy Efficiency Projects
--------------------------------------------- ----

8. EPA official Susan Wickwire met her counterparts at the
Vietnam Energy Conservation Program (VECP) and the Vietnam
Cleaner Production Center (VCPC) to discuss potential follow-
on activities to the successful joint EPA-Vietnam
Climate/Ozone Office workshop held in September 2002 to
promote energy efficiency (EE) and ozone protection. One
promising project would address improving the efficiency of
coal-fired boilers in textile plants. VECP is affiliated
with the Ministry of Science and Technology and is
responsible for overseeing a Global Environment Facility
(GEF) project that relates to small and medium enterprises.
The textile sector has been identified as one of the primary
targets for EE improvements under the project. VCPC has
worked with the textile sector through an ongoing UNEP-
funded program. Discussions with both organizations yielded
new insights into the priorities of textile manufacturers
(primarily VINATEX, the state-owned major player) and into
the ways in which similar projects have been implemented in
Vietnam. Next steps will include follow-up communications
to determine whether there is a clear basis for cooperation
with VECP and to a lesser extent, VCPC. EPA will work
closely with the Embassy, USAEP, and officials at the
Climate/Ozone office (Ministry of Natural Resources and
Environment) to ensure that activities are coordinated with
other environmental projects in Vietnam.


9. As the last leg of a three-country Southeast Asian tour
(including earlier visits to Thailand and Malaysia), the
discussions held in Vietnam concluded a regional outreach
effort by the climate delegation. The extremely positive
dialogue, the level of interest, and the overall
constructive engagement experienced in each of the three
countries confirmed the importance of expanding U.S.
outreach efforts on climate to the broader developing
country community. As part of a multi-track approach the
U.S. has been working to establish formal bilateral climate
partnerships with 14 priority countries, including both
developed and developing countries, which together with the
U.S. represent 75% of current GHG emissions. However, in
addition to a focus on these priority partnerships, the U.S.
has become increasingly cognizant of the need to expand its
efforts to get the President's climate policy message out to
all countries. There is clearly a continuing public
diplomacy need to explain that the U.S. is committed to a
robust series of programs and a serious climate policy,
outside the context of the Kyoto Protocol. Given the
President's direction on long-term climate policy objectives
and investments, this visit to SE Asia served to confirm the
importance of working proactively to expand the policy
dialogue to countries with growing emissions, especially to
those who either can or potentially could play an important
role in future multilateral negotiations.

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