riassunto in italiano
05 March 2004
State's Dobriansky Says U.S. Committed on Climate Change, March 3, 2004
(Vienna statement by under secretary for global affairs)
The United States is "fully committed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and shares its ultimate objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate," the U.S. State Department's Paula Dobriansky told the Federation of Austrian Industry in Vienna March 3.
Dobriansky said the United States is committed to addressing the challenge of climate change in partnership with other nations.
"In our view, addressing environmental challenges will only be successful when governments work in collaboration with business and industry to develop solutions to harness the ingenuity of the private sector and enlist its long-term support," she said.
Dobriansky, the under secretary of state for global affairs, cited three "fundamental pillars" of the U.S. approach: increasing international collaboration in dealing with climate change, improving scientific understanding, and developing breakthrough technologies.
"We also need to balance a broad range of policy objectives including energy security, sustainable development, sustainable economic growth, economic competitiveness and other environmental policy goals," she added.
The United States has sought to increase international collaboration through 13 different bilateral relationships on climate and energy with countries and with regional organizations, she noted.
Discussing the second pillar, scientific understanding, Dobriansky said, "We do not have all of the answers about climate, nor can we precisely predict changes in climate or the degree to which human activity affects that change. Better observations of the environment are essential to this process. "
As for developing breakthrough technologies, the third pillar, Dobriansky cited major U.S. commitments to developing hydrogen-powered fuel cells, carbon sequestration, next-generation nuclear systems, and fusion energy.
"We may need to fundamentally change the way we produce and consume energy," she said. "Deep and sustained cuts in emissions that can find broad support in the international community require entirely new approaches. However, we are eager to work with both developed and developing countries, as well as the private sector, to foster these types of technologies."
Following are Dobriansky's remarks as delivered:
U.S. CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY: WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP TO ADDRESS THE CHALLENGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs
Federation of Austrian Industry
March 3, 2004
Dr. Schenz, first thank you very much for that very kind introduction. I also would like to thank Dr. Oliva very much for the invitation and to both of you for my being here. I also would like to acknowledge the representatives of the Austrian government who are here, in addition to our Ambassador to Austria, Lee Brown, and the many other distinguished guests, including a number of your colleagues who are present here in the audience. It's an honor to address the Federation of Austrian Industry.
Today, I will focus my remarks on the issue of climate change, American policy, and the ways we are working with Europe and the rest of the word on this very issue. I am reminded in coming to the city that hosted the Congress of Vienna nearly two hundred years ago that generating international consensus on contentious issues of the day is never easy or fast. Unlike the Congress of Vienna, however, key decisions on climate change are not limited to four countries sequestered in a palace. They are made everyday, by governments, businesses, scientists, and citizens around the world.
It is hard not to look back with wonder on the technological advances that have taken place over the last two centuries. That is especially true here in Vienna - a city that is synonymous with music, the arts and culture, but also industry, as many of you here can attest-and a city that also has been at the center of so many important events in the past and the present. Our ability to communicate freely with friends in remote and distant places, to travel easily around the world, or to diagnose and treat once fatal diseases, would be awe-inspiring to our predecessors from the early 19th or even the early 20th centuries.
And we ourselves would likely view our own future - I think in due time -with similar awe. One might think our world of today will endure almost indefinitely and that the challenges and constraints we face will also remain. The reality, however, is that the only reliable constant is change itself, and we must keep this in mind when making policies with ramifications that extend decades into the future.
The world is already undergoing a revolution in the way it generates and uses energy, and there is no doubt that this transformation will continue in the time ahead. Working with others to encourage and accelerate this change is an essential goal of U.S. policy in dealing with climate change.
Our approach to this very issue has three fundamental pillars: increasing international collaboration in dealing with climate change, improving scientific understanding, and developing breakthrough technologies. We see those three pillars as underpinning the approach that we pursue. And we also need to balance a broad range of policy objectives including energy security, sustainable development, sustainable economic growth, economic competitiveness and other environmental policy goals.
One cornerstone of this policy is the promotion of partnerships. Last year, Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote in Foreign Affairs that "Partnership is the watchword of U.S. strategy in this Administration. Partnership is not about deferring to others; it is about working with them." This emphasis on partnerships is clear in our action on climate change. Our approach is based on working with other governments and with business and other interested groups both in the United States and elsewhere. In our view, addressing environmental challenges will only be successful when governments work in collaboration with business and industry to develop solutions to harness the ingenuity of the private sector and enlist its long-term support.
In announcing the U.S. strategy for addressing climate change, President Bush stated in June 2001 "we will act, learn, and act again, adjusting our approaches as science advances and technology evolves." And in fact, we have just started taking action. We realize that in the short term we cannot shift immediately to an emission-free economy. Fossil fuels are a core part of America's and most other countries' energy baskets. They are of growing significance to developing countries whose demand for energy will soon exceed that of developed countries. So our immediate goal - as we see it - must be to minimize the impact of fossil fuels until we can find cost-effective alternatives. President Bush has committed the United States to reducing its greenhouse gas intensity - and what this is to define it is the amount of greenhouse gas emitted per unit of economic production. The goal that we have set for ourselves is 18% from 2002 to 2012.
This is an ambitious goal that will require participation from all segments of the U.S. economy. If we are successful in this goal, what this goal will translate into is the elimination essentially of a total of more than 500 million metric tons of emissions. This reduction is equal to taking 70 million cars off the road. That's what the equivalent is, taking 70 million cars of the road.
Toward this end, we have put in place comprehensive voluntary programs to engage business and industry in making the U.S. economy more efficient and decreasing greenhouse gas intensity. And I want to share with you several of the programs that have engaged business and industry. First there is the Climate Leaders program, an industry-government partnership being managed by our Environmental Protection Agency, it encourages individual companies to develop climate change strategies and set goals for greenhouse gas emissions. Since its creation in 2002, some 53 corporate partners have joined the program and many have already committed themselves to specific greenhouse reduction targets.
The Climate Vision program also takes a similar approach to addressing entire sectors of the U.S. economy. The Climate Vision program involves 12 major industrial sectors as well as the membership of the Business Roundtable, a major American business association, and they have committed themselves to reducing their greenhouse emissions over the coming decade. So there is the Climate Leaders Program, which is been put forth by our Environmental Protection Agency. Actually the number that I have cited, this has increased in terms of one of EPA's recent updates. In terms of the commitments there have been some 53 countries but there are several hundred companies that have participated in this not all which have yet committed to targets.
And then the Climate Vision program is a program that has been launched by our Department of Energy, which involves as I have said the 12 major industrial sectors.
One sector - transportation - is particularly important and sometimes it is overlooked in discussions on climate change. Last January the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled the SmartWay Transport Partnership, an effort that brings together the EPA and various freight movers to establish incentives for fuel efficiency improvements and emissions reductions. Forty-two freight carriers and 11 freight shippers from around the United States have already signed up, and we are looking for others to do so.
Finally, the Bush Administration is encouraging action by providing financial incentives to business and individuals to support greenhouse gas reductions. The incentives include substantial tax credits for renewable energy like solar and wind and for energy efficient technologies like hybrid vehicles and combined heat and power cogeneration. The United States continues to have the largest research and development program for renewable energy in the world - over half a billion dollars - part of the more than $4 billion we are spending annually on climate-related science and technology research. So a very significant portion of our efforts have gone toward renewable energy and provide tax incentives and incentives particularly to business and industry to pursue those areas. The Administration has also finalized regulations requiring an increase in the fuel economy of light trucks, the first such increase since 1996.
I have given you background in terms of our national program and in terms of the interaction with the community in the United States. But our efforts at partnership are not confined to the United States. America has forged some fully 13 different bilateral relationships on climate and energy with countries and with regional organizations, like the European Union. Together, these bilateral arrangements account for over 70% of the greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. These partnerships include, by the way, developed countries and developing countries, some of the countries support the Kyoto protocol, and some of the countries don't support the Kyoto protocol. The partnerships with the various countries of the 13 have resulted in joint projects on climate change science; on clean and advanced energy technologies; as well as carbon capture, storage, and sequestration. Also in some initiatives with some of the countries we have focused on assisting developing countries. For example Japan is one of the countries we have a partnership with and we have agreed to not only collaborate on science modeling and on market mechanisms but also on helping developing countries. Some of the other countries, by the way, that are part of these arrangements include New Zealand, China, India, I mentioned the European Union, Australia, and Italy, and there are a number of them.
Our effort on climate change is also based on the premise that we must significantly improve our understanding of the climate system. As President Bush said, we need to learn. We do not have all of the answers about climate, nor can we precisely predict changes in climate or the degree to which human activity affects that change.
Better observations of the environment are essential to this process. The United States hosted the first-ever Earth Observation Summit last July to generate international support for an initiative to link thousands of individual technological assets around the globe in a coordinated and comprehensive global Earth observation system. Why? Because there is a need for a standardization. If you have better information then you will be able to take more targeted and early action. The system will substantially improve our ability to identify and address environmental concerns. More than thirty countries-both developed and developing-and twenty international organizations participated in the Summit.
And there will be a follow-up meeting, which will be held in Japan. Japan stepped forward and will be chairing the next gathering of the Earth observation summit. Improving our science will greatly improve our ability to make sound and effective policy. However, cutting edge energy technologies will also be critical to addressing greenhouse gas emissions without placing restraints on the economic development necessary to resolve so many of our world's other challenges, such as poverty eradication. Our efforts to increase energy efficiency are only one part of a long-term integrated strategy to increase energy security-for everyone-while reducing emissions. We may need to fundamentally change the way we produce and consume energy. Deep and sustained cuts in emissions that can find broad support in the international community require entirely new approaches. However, we are eager to work with both developed and developing countries, as well as the private sector, to foster these types of technologies.
The Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum is one of our key initiatives in stabilizing and reducing greenhouse gas levels over the longer term. It focuses on developing technologies to capture and store carbon and prevent it from entering the atmosphere. The Forum has been a useful means to compare approaches and identify new ways of collaboration.
Last summer, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and I hosted ministers from fourteen countries and the European Commission during the inaugural meeting of the Leadership Forum which was held just outside of Washington DC. One of the things that struck me most was the broad range of projects and the research that countries had been undertaking to capture and store carbon. I was particularly impressed by the presentation that was made by Norway. The Norwegians made a formal presentation what is known as the Sleipner project - which is the world's first commercial-scale storage of carbon dioxide. All of us sitting in the room had a lot to benefit from already the work that they have done in this area. But many of us had not heard actually that information presented in such a multilateral forum before.
FutureGen is another interesting component of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum. Through this initiative, the U.S. and international partners in the public and private sectors are developing a $1 billion, 10-year demonstration project to create the world's first coal-based, zero-emissions electricity and hydrogen power plant. Once developed, the plant will produce energy, separate and capture carbon and produce hydrogen.
Our collaborative vision extends into the longer term as well, as we seek to make changes in the fuel we use to power our economies.
Our flagship effort in this area is the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy. The Partnership provides a mechanism to research and implement multinational programs that advance the transition to a hydrogen economy. It allows billions of dollars in government funding to leverage tens of billions in private sector investments.
The Partnership will also help to address the technological, financial and institutional barriers to a cost-competitive, standardized, widely accessible, and safe hydrogen economy. The United States is working with fourteen partner countries and the European Commission on this initiative.
Last fall, I tried out this technology myself when I hosted Italy's Minister of Environment Altero Matteoli in Sacramento California. We toured what is known as the California Fuel Cell Partnership and we both had a chance to test drive hydrogen powered cars and trucks. Partners in the effort include the U.S. Government; the State of California; car manufacturers from the United States, Europe and Asia; and petroleum and technology companies. They are all working together both to create the technologies for new automobiles and to design the infrastructure necessary to ensure easy access to hydrogen fuel. While hydrogen-powered cars are not yet commercially available on a large scale, we are moving quickly toward a day of significantly reduced emissions in the transportation sector.
To bring that day closer, the United States is committing $1.7 billion through 2008 to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cells, a hydrogen infrastructure, and advanced automobile technologies.
The Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum and the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy represent more than just inventing new energy technologies - they represent a new way for the world to work together on developing and deploying these technologies. Perhaps for the first time, developed countries are working side by side with developing countries on research and on testing these very technologies. As a result, larger developing countries whose rate of greenhouse gas emissions will continue to increase as their economies grow will be better positioned to integrate the newest technologies as they are being developed, rather than after the technology is diffused or transferred to them. They can also have a voice in shaping new technologies to address their own particular needs. We see this as a model for balancing long-term global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions with continued economic growth for all, for developed countries and for developing countries.
Turning again to power generation, the United States is the lead participant in the Generation IV International Forum, an initiative to develop next-generation nuclear systems to produce electricity. Nuclear power has been a safe source of electricity in Asia, Europe, and the United States for decades, without greenhouse gas emissions. By developing the next generation nuclear reactor, we have the opportunity to make even safer and more efficient power plants that can expand our energy choices.
But perhaps the most exciting is the promise of fusion energy, the same source of energy that powers the sun and stars. The United States and many other nations are participating in the largest and most technologically sophisticated research project in the world - the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor to develop a fusion reactor. If successful, this $5 billion program will produce clean and abundant energy by the middle of the century. China, the European Union, Japan, Russia, and South Korea are our partners in this ambitious work.
In closing, I would like to say a few words about American policy more broadly. Some have chosen to characterize our decision not to participate in the Kyoto Protocol as a statement of indifference to the challenges of climate change. Let me assure you that that is not the case. First the United States remains fully committed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and shares its ultimate objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate. Those are the very terms annunciated by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
During December's Conference of the Parties on climate change, which was held in Milan, we, the United States had the opportunity to share many elements as I have with you today, many elements of the U.S. approach with a number of other delegations. While some delegations naturally did not agree with every aspect of what we put on the table, we felt that sharing our views and identifying areas of collaboration was very important and constructive. We think it was an important aspect of the meeting that took place and we look forward to continued participation in this process.
Nearly a century ago Henry Ford, the father of mass produced automobiles in the United States stated that "coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success." Addressing climate change and redefining the way the world looks at energy will be a challenge, but I am confident that working together, in partnership, will truly demonstrate and underscore the words of Henry Ford. Thank you very much.