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Cablegate: France Takes Note of Asia-Pacific Clean

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

1. (SBU) Summary: Deputy Secretary Zoellick's announcement
of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development caught
France's attention, and helped sustain a slight but
perceptible moderation in French criticism of the U.S.
climate change position. Some of the economic press has
reported on the benefits and logic of the new technologies in
finding a solution to this global problem. Unfortunately,
general public opinion, as indicated in recent mainstream
papers, has not softened, and the U.S. non-accession to the
Kyoto Protocal remains one of our most difficult public
diplomacy and scientific challenges here. However, with at
least a 'foot in the door' on this issue, post has stepped up
its outreach on climate change policy, and we urge continued
Washington help to address French skepticism. End Summary.

French Show Interest

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2. (SBU) The Foreign Ministry Spokesman took a question on
the Asia-Pacific Partnership and the Embassy,s EST Section
exchanged comments with the French agency charged with
inter-ministerial coordination of climate change about the
Partnership. The spokesman referred to the Partnership as
"an interesting regional initiative that demonstrates growing
global interest on the question of (climate) change." A
senior official in the inter-ministerial body charged with
coordinating climate change told EST counselor that "the
impression we get is that this new partnership is a valuable
collaboration program on the full range of clean and low
carbon technologies...that will aim to improve their
diffusion and development." This official also mentioned
that the French approach to climate change similarly includes
heavy doses of energy technology research. Supporting this
research, he noted French participation in U.S.-led
technology partnerships, and gave as instances the
International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy, GEN IV,
and the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum. French
officials seek to learn more about the Asia-Pacific
Partnership in the months ahead.

3. (SBU) Unfortunately, the French official response and the
media at the same time dwelled on whether the U.S. had
designed the Partnership to replace or complement the Kyoto
Protocol, and in either case, remarked that the initiative
does not address the urgency or immediacy of the issue. The
French highlighted their position that technological
solutions alone (i.e., their view of the U.S. view) are
insufficient to meet carbon emission reduction needs. They
say mandatory emissions controls remain necessary to force
the marketplace to undertake meaningful, urgent change. One
liberal French daily noted in its commentary on the
Partnership that the U.S., tired of being regarded as an
eternal skeptic on the subject of climate change, has decided
to take a more active stand in the field. Regrettably, one
of the Partnership's major features - the 'roping in' of two
of the largest producers of greenhouse gases India and China
into a scheme, even a voluntary one -- received scant
treatment in either the official or media commentary.

Spreading the Word

4. (SBU) The Embassy has intensified its efforts to blunt
criticism of U.S. climate policies. CEQ's Jim Connaughton,
DOE's Bob Marlay and a number of other U.S. officials over
the past year personally supported this campaign. When U.S.
climate officials visit Paris to participate in international
events, the Embassy seeks their participation in press events
or roundtables on U.S. climate policy. Embassy, Consulate and
American Presence Post officers are also on the climate
change march. Ambassadorial Op-Ed pieces have received
prominent placement, and Post will be placing a new OpEd on
the Partnership. We also urge continued or stepped up visits
by U.S. officials in the coming months that will include a
significant program of public affairs outreach. We have
invited Bob Marlay to return to Paris in early December to
brief senior officials and influential opinion-makers on the
U.S. Climate Technology Program at the annual Passages Forum,
the would-be 'Davos' for sustainable development that this
year will focus on energy and climate. The Paris-based
French-American Foundation/Comite Francais has proposed a
yearlong series of seminars on Global Warming and Energy
starting in the fall, which the Mission will support with a
Public Diplomacy grant. U.S. speakers will be welcomed to
participate on a variety of policy and technical topics.
Another event, the Michelin Bibendum Challenge (an exposition
and symposium on the latest automobile technologies that not
only improve road safety but also protect the environment)
will be held in Paris in June 2006. These are but a few of
the many international events at which the U.S. can advance
understanding of its climate policies.

Messages that Work; Messages that Don,t

5. (SBU) In France, aside from a handful of government
officials and researchers, there remains a fundamental lack
of understanding of the U.S. perspective on climate change.
While thanks in large part to the publicity associated with
the G-8 many in France understand that the U.S. acknowledges
anthropogenic effects on the climate, the French do not
believe the U.S. Government considers the climate "urgent" or
"a priority." Despite Embassy efforts, many French continue,
however, to think that the U.S. remains "out-of-step" with
the rest of the world on climate questions. As the U.S. is
perceived as a wealthy society, U.S. arguments that
implementing Kyoto would negatively affect our economy fall
on deaf ears. In fact, we,re seen as concerned only about
our bottom line, not the global problem of climate change.
(In France, the logic, used to explain U.S. non-acceptance
of Kyoto is often given as economic greed and environmental

6. (SBU) Emphasis on and more detailed examples of climate
friendly work we are doing and accomplishing now, such as
those outlined by Connaughton during his recent DVC with
posts, are useful for the Embassy to bring to the attention
of the French public. Pictures of actual transformational
energy projects (such as 'FutureGen' or 'FreedomCar')with
accompanying text would be helpful for placement and use in
presentations. The picture of the President inaugurating the
hydrogen gas station in Washington last year is a
particularly potent image. Similarly, illustrations of
examples of the many areas where the U.S. is succeeding in
cutting back emissions would graphically demonstrate our
successes. As we understand that the U.S. maintains certain
mandatory controls on emissions in certain industrial
sectors, we believe elaboration of these would prove
informative to the French public. As regards the new
Asia-Pacific Partnership, we should focus attention on the
fact that it brings in the two largest GHG emitters in the
developing world without whose cooperation no climate
strategy will be effective. We should keep interest in the
Partnership alive by publicizing its milestones.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: The stereotype image of the U.S. has
become that we are "the great polluter." This image can be
changed and is in fact changing. We think French officials
and media will continue to be receptive to U.S. presentations
and information on U.S. climate policies and efforts to
develop transformational energy technologies. Efforts to
'publicize' U.S. policies before, during, and after the G-8
were welcomed, if not published immediately. Last week's
announcement of the Asia-Pacific Partnership took French
officials and the media by surprise, but they certainly took
note of it. We think we are on the right track and seek
Washington's continued assistance in the follow-through. We
especially welcome U.S. policymakers (Dobriansky,
Connaughton, Watson, Marlay, et alia) to help us press home
our brief. End Comment.

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