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Intervention of the United States: Shared Vision Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action

Delegation of the United States
Fourteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
Poznan, Poland
December 3, 2008

The United States is pleased to provide its perspective on the topic of our shared vision.

Party submissions and interventions have offered differing views about the nature of the shared vision and how it relates to the overall Bali Action Plan.

We think that a shared vision should operate as a kind of chapeau to the four elements that operationalize the actions envisaged in Bali Action Plan.

We envision a concise text in the agreed outcome for shared vision. In terms of its tone, we would see a shared vision not as a nuts-and-bolts repetition of the four Bali elements, but rather as operating on a higher plane. It should be visionary and inspirational — words that leave not only countries, but ordinary people, thinking that “this can and should be done.”

In terms of the content of a shared vision, we suggest that it should be informed by the following considerations.

First, a shared vision should reflect a shared resolve of the international community: Parties will do what it takes to successfully meet the objective of the Convention, and we will do so with an understanding of the urgent nature of the challenge.

Second, a shared vision should be optimistic. We can meet the climate challenge if all countries are committed to act urgently and ambitiously to the best of their abilities.

In this respect, a shared vision should emphasize not only the challenge but also the opportunities offered by an effective climate response in addressing other social objectives – such as energy security, economic efficiency, conservation, pollution-reduction, and resilience in sectors that are sensitive to climate variability and change.

Third, a shared vision should emphasize the need to be strategic and pragmatic in our climate efforts.

Our efforts under the Convention should be structured strategically so as to lead us toward the most effective and efficient solutions, in order to enhance our ability to achieve ambitious climate objectives over time.

Our publics will demand that we get the most from our climate investments, whether at home, or in the development resources that those of us who are developed countries provide under the Convention or elsewhere.

We will need an approach that strategically identifies and incentivizes actions that are available to all countries, such as sustainable development policies and measures. Our approach should encourage policies and programs that effectively leverage private sector resources and innovation toward climate efforts. And a future approach to climate change should recognize the multiplier value of R&D investments and encourage more such investments.

We will need to ensure that our activities on adaptation prioritize the most vulnerable, and make use of the considerable expertise and institutional capabilities now in place to promote resilience in climate-sensitive sectors.

Fourth, any vision should inspire all countries to contribute to the climate effort to the best of their abilities.

Developed countries have a continuing responsibility to play the leading role in the climate effort, and we strongly believe that poverty reduction and economic development are rightfully the overarching goals for developing countries.

At the same time, it is imperative that we acknowledge that all Parties are at a range of development, contribute differently to climate change, have different capabilities and thus different roles to play in the climate effort.

This spectrum is and always has been to us the essence of the term “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.”

Countries’ capabilities to address emissions and to adapt vary not only in terms of their level of development, but also with their respective natural endowments and infrastructures, as well as their specific technological and financial wherewithal in climate-relevant sectors.

A climate regime in which countries’ actions are broadly aligned with their capabilities to act is the basis of a sustained and effective global solution to climate change.

We support consideration of a global long-term goal of at least 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050. We believe any goal should be designed to orient and inspire the actions of nations and civil society in their efforts to address climate change.

Finally, a shared vision should reflect that Copenhagen is a critical next step in a sustained global effort to address climate change in an environmentally effective and economically sustainable manner. This effort will be with us for many decades, and the shared vision as well as the elements of the Bali Action Plan will need to ensure that efforts by all countries reflect both evolving understanding of the science and evolving contemporary realities.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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