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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2003

U.S.-Italy Cooperation on Climate Change

Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary for Global Affairs and Head of U.S. Delegation to COP-9
Opening remarks at "ItalyUSA: Cooperation on climate change research and low emissions technology" event
Milan, Italy
December 11, 2003

Ninth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, December 1-12, 2003

Thank you for coming. I want to give special thanks to Minister Matteoli, Dr. Clini and our Italian colleagues for arranging and hosting this important event here in the Italian Pavilion. Our Italian hosts deserve a lot of the credit for their organization of the Conference and for their generous hospitality in welcoming the international community to one of Italy’s leading cities --Milan.

The Italy-U.S. partnership is a very important part of the Bush Administration’s international effort on climate change, and the drive to develop cleaner energy technologies that we believe are key to addressing climate change in a way that protects the environment and capitalizes on the economic productivity of the citizens of our two countries.

The U.S.-Italy partnership on climate change is one of the most developed of our bilateral climate change partnerships. It has an important origin, coming directly out of a decision by Prime Minister Berlusconi and President Bush at their 2001 meeting.

That was followed last year in Rome by the first U.S.-Italy climate change research and technology meeting. Since then, we have accomplished much together. Most recently, Minister Matteoli and I met in Sacramento, California to lead a discussion about cleaner energy technologies. We agreed that the development and deployment of transformational technologies is fundamental to addressing global climate change. We talked about a range of technologies, but one that we focused on was hydrogen.

As part of our bilateral partnership, Italian and U.S. experts in government and in the private sector are working on a number of other clean energy technologies: stationary fuel cells; hydrogen production; hydrogen infrastructure, cleaner fossil fuels technologies, including carbon capture and storage; and, geothermal, wind, and other renewable sources of energy.

In the United States, we are working to reduce projected greenhouse gas emissions in the near term, as we also work to develop and deploy advanced energy technologies that will achieve our goals in the longer term. For the coming decade, President Bush has committed the United States to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of our economy by 18%. Major industrial sectors have responded to President Bush’s challenge to develop new, voluntary initiatives to reduce emissions by committing to ambitious emissions reductions over the coming decade.

We appreciate greatly Italy’s assistance and participation in the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, which seeks to develop new cost-effective technologies to capture and store emissions from utilizing coal and other fossil fuels. There will be a follow-up meeting of this Forum next month in Pisa. Just a few weeks ago, in Washington, Minister Matteoli, U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, and other ministers helped launch the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy to accelerate the global transition to a hydrogen economy. The United States is also working under the GenIV program to develop next-generation nuclear technology, and we have reentered the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project to develop fusion technology by mid-century.

Improving our understanding of the climate system is also important to our international approach, because it is our knowledge of earth and climate systems that form the basis for our actions and investments to address climate change. We were pleased that representatives from Italy attended the Earth Observation Summit in July in Washington DC, where we agreed to exchange information, to work with developing countries, and to support a comprehensive Earth observation system with a 10-year implementation plan. And last month, the Group on Earth Observations met in the beautiful town of Baveno to discuss the way ahead and to give guidance to five subgroups on the first draft of the foundation document.

America welcomes Italy’s leadership in bridging different approaches to climate change and finding common ground. We also note Italy’s leadership in the current presidency of the European Union, where it is helping to advance trans-Atlantic cooperation on climate change and a range of other important issues. The progress we are making in cooperation with Italy and other partners, and in our efforts at home, are important for achieving the goals of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

As we complete our discussions here in Milan, I am hopeful that the American-Italian partnership will continue to build upon and expand our actions. I look forward to the continued cooperation between our two nations, and to the remaining discussions and activities at this conference.

Thank you.

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