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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs > Climate Change > Remarks, Briefings, Reports, Releases > 2004

Statement by Dr. Harlan L. Watson, Senior Climate Negotiator and Special Representative and Alternate Head of the U.S. Delegation

Statement to the First Meeting of the Plenary
Buenos Aires, Argentina
December 6, 2004

Thank you, Mr. President:

I want to congratulate you on your election as President of COP 10, and to express the United States’ gratitude to the Government and people of Argentina for their warm and generous hospitality and for the excellent arrangements made for this COP. I am confident we will have a productive Conference, and we look forward to participating constructively in its work.

Many here today are looking forward to the Kyoto Protocol’s entry into force. The United States has chosen a different path and I want to make it clear that we are taking substantial actions to address climate change. The United States remains committed to the Framework Convention, and we are doing much to contribute to its objective.

The U.S. three-prong approach to climate change addresses both its near-term and long-term aspects by: (1) slowing the growth of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by reducing our GHG intensity; (2) laying important groundwork for both current and future action through major investments in science, technology, and institutions; and (3) cooperating internationally with other nations to develop an efficient and effective global response.

Meeting President Bush’s near-term goal of reducing U.S. GHG intensity (GHG emissions per dollar of GDP) by 18% over the next 10 years represents a nearly 30% improvement over business-as-usual, and will achieve more than 500 million metric tons of carbon-equivalent emissions reductions from business-as-usual estimates through 2012--an amount equal to taking 70 million cars off the road.

Robust scientific research is needed to better understand the climate issue, and the United States has been pleased to have taken a leadership role in funding climate change science with a current expenditure of $2 billion annually and a total expenditure of more than $23 billion since 1990. We also believe that laying the foundation on technology is the most practical step that can be taken to address this issue in a manner that will be sustainable and successful over the long term. At home, we will spend nearly $3 billion this year--far more than any other country--to accelerate the development and deployment of key technologies, such as renewables, energy efficiency, advanced fossil and nuclear, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage, that have to potential to achieve substantial GHG emissions reductions.

Internationally, the United States is implementing bilateral and multilateral climate change partnerships. Bilaterally, we have partnerships with 14 countries and regional organizations, and are working with them on over 200 projects in the areas of climate change research and science, climate observation systems, clean and advanced energy technologies, and policy approaches to reducing GHG emissions. We also continue to assist many developing country efforts to build the scientific and technological capacity needed to address climate change.

The United States has also initiated five multilateral climate change science and technology initiatives, including the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF), the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE), and most recently, the Methane-to-Markets Partnership. Thirteen countries joined the U.S. last month in a Ministerial meeting in Washington to launch an innovative program to help promote energy security, improve environmental quality, and reduce GHG emissions throughout the world by working closely with the private sector in targeting methane currently wasted from leaky oil and gas systems, from underground coal mines, and from landfills. The U.S. intends to commit up to $53 million to the Partnership over the next 5 years.

Mr. President, President Bush made a commitment in June 2001 to develop with friends and allies and nations throughout the world an effective and science-based response to address climate change. His climate change policy recognizes that efforts to address climate change will only be sustainable if they also serve a larger purpose of fostering prosperity and well being for citizens around the globe. In this regard, we recall Article 3 of the Framework Convention, which acknowledges that economic development is essential for adopting measures to address climate change. The United States supports the development of an integrated approach through partnerships among governments, the private sector and NGOs that promote economic growth, improve economic efficiency and productivity, enhance energy security, increase the availability of cleaner, more efficient energy resources, and reduce pollution--all in ways that have the effect of reducing greenhouse gas intensity of economies. And we look forward to working with all Parties to achieve these goals. Thank you, Mr. President.

Released on December 6, 2004

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