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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2001

Remarks to The Royal Institute of International Affairs Conference

Dr. Harlan L. Watson, Senior Climate Negotiator and Special Representative, U.S. Department of State
Remarks to The Royal Institute of International Affairs Conference on "Delivering Kyoto: Can Europe Do It? Political, Industrial and Environmental Dimensions"
Chatham House, London, United Kingdom
October 2, 2001

I would like to open my remarks by sharing with you the gratitude of the United States for the outpouring of support, sympathy, and solidarity from countries around the world in response to the tragic events in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania on September 11. We have been simply amazed by the response of the global community. We recognize that citizens of 80 countries lost their lives that day, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all the victims.

Although the current focus of the world is on the global campaign against terrorism, addressing the global concern of climate change has received a great deal of attention around the world and certainly in the United States. President Bush is committed to addressing the issue in a manner that protects our environment, consumers, and economy. As a result, he directed his Cabinet to review our climate change policy and to make recommendations for new ways -- domestic and international -- to address this complex issue. That Cabinet-level review is still in progress, and President Bush has made several interim announcements, which I will talk about more in a few minutes.

The United States ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in October 1992 -- we were the first industrialized nation to do so. We continue to fulfill our obligations under the Convention, and to participate in negotiations on matters related to it. President Bush has made clear that the U.S. will continue to work constructively under the Convention -- we did so at the resumed Sixth Conference of the Parties (COP-6 bis) in Bonn last July, and we intend to continue doing so at COP-7 in Marrakech, which begins later this month.

We know that the United States is the world’s leading emitter of manmade greenhouse gases, we recognize our responsibility to reduce our emissions, and we are working to address them. At the same time, climate change is a global problem that will require a global, long-term solution. Already, the net emissions from developing countries now exceed those of developed countries, so it is even more critical that all nations address this challenge.

Unless developing countries take measures to address their steeply rising emissions levels, all the efforts of the developed countries to mitigate their emissions will have done nothing to accomplish the Convention’s goal of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. While no one expects developing countries to assume the same level of measures as developed countries, it is important for each country to do what it can in accordance with its responsibilities and capabilities.

The United States does not believe that the Kyoto Protocol is the right answer to the challenge of climate change. The Protocol is flawed -- its targets are arbitrary and in many cases unrealistic, it does not include developing countries, and its costs would harm the U.S. economy. The United States has made it very clear that it does not intend to ratify the Protocol. At the same time, we do not intend to block those who wish to proceed -- the decision of whether or not to ratify the Protocol is a decision that each country will have to make on its own. We do not believe that ratification of the Protocol would be in the interests of the United States, but as we made clear by our engagement at COP-6 bis in Bonn, we will not impede others if they choose differently. Other countries must do what they think is right.

As I noted earlier, President Bush’s Cabinet has been meeting for months to review the existing U.S. climate change policy and to make recommendations for how to proceed from here -- both domestically and internationally. However, President Bush has already provided information on the process and announced some first steps that we will take.

On June 11, in a speech in the Rose Garden at the White House, President Bush provided an interim report on the review’s progress. He summarized the kinds of briefings the Cabinet had received on the science of climate change, and highlighted some areas where more scientific work needs to be done to reduce the uncertainties of how and how much the climate could change in the future, and what that means for us.

President Bush also announced three initiatives:

  • Advancing the Science of Climate Change through the U.S. Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI) to set priorities for additional investments in climate change research and to fully fund priority research areas that are underfunded or need to be accelerated. This initiative includes up to $25 million and calls on other developed countries to provide matching funds to help build climate observation systems in developing countries.
  • Advancing Technology to Address Climate Change through the National Climate Change Technology Initiative (NCCTI) to improve climate change research and development, enhance basic research, strengthen applied research through public-private partnerships, develop improved technologies for measuring and monitoring gross and new greenhouse gas emissions, and support demonstration projects for cutting-edge technologies.
  • Promoting Cooperation in the Western Hemisphere and Beyond to build partnerships within the Western Hemisphere and throughout the world and identify areas for enhanced cooperation.

I want to highlight the third initiative, Cooperation in the Western Hemisphere and Beyond, which is the one most focused on international partnerships -- although the other two have international elements as well.

We know that even with the best science and the most innovative technology, neither the United States nor any other country can solve this problem alone. That is why President Bush has directed the Secretary of State, working closely with other U.S. Government agencies, to consult with nations in the Western Hemisphere and throughout the world to identify areas for enhanced cooperation.

In the President's Plan, this cooperation has five components:

  • Building on the June 7, 2001 CONCAUSA declaration with seven Central America countries, which calls for "intensified cooperative efforts to address on climate change."
  • Strengthening and expanding scientific research within the Western Hemisphere to explore opportunities for collaboration through existing partnerships with research institutes, such as the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research and others, to better understand regional impacts of climate change.
  • Revitalizing U.S. efforts to assist developing countries to acquire the tools and expertise needed to measure and monitor emissions, and to identify and act on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
  • Promoting the export of climate-friendly, clean energy technologies, building on the President’s National Energy Policy.
  • Promoting sustainable forest conservation and land use in the developing world.

On July 13, President Bush described further progress made in the review process, and announced the first set of actions the Cabinet had taken to advance progress of the three initiatives.

First, with respect to the CCRI, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is to invest more than $120 million over the next three years in four areas:

Carbon Cycle (more than $50 million) -- Recognizing the key role carbon dioxide plays as a greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and as a key constituent in human, plant, and animal life in the biosphere, NASA is selecting 80 new projects to conduct remote sensing-oriented research on how carbon cycles through the Earth’s system and influences climate change.

  • Water and Energy Cycle ($20 million). To improve understanding of the global cycle of water and energy, particularly the roles that clouds and water vapor play in climate change.
  • Chemistry-Climate Connection ($22 million). To help determine whether aerosols have a net warming or cooling effect, and whether climate change will hamper the recovery of the ozone layer.
  • Computational Modeling ($10 million). To improve the computer simulation of a broad range of physical and biological climate systems, taking advantage of ever-increasing computational capabilities of new computer models and hardware.

In addition, on July 19 the United States and Italy agreed to undertake joint research on climate change in several critical areas, including atmospheric studies related to climate, low carbon technologies, global and regional climate modeling, and carbon cycle research.

Second, with respect to the NCCTI, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has committed $25 million to a number of projects to develop enhanced carbon sequestration technologies, and plans to leverage approximately $50 million in contributions from the private sector and foreign governments. Two initial projects under this effort include:

  • The Nature Conservancy Project. DOE will work in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and companies such as General Motors Corp. and American Electric Power to study how carbon dioxide can be stored more effectively by changing land use practices and investing in forestry projects. The project will use newly developed aerial and satellite-based technology to study forestry projects in Brazil and Belize to determine their carbon sequestration potential, and will also test new software models to predict how soil and vegetation store carbon at sites in the United States and abroad.
  • International Team of Energy Companies. DOE will work in collaboration with nine energy companies from six nations to develop breakthrough technologies to reduce the cost of capturing carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion and safely storing it underground. The nine companies are: BP-Amoco (UK), Shell (The Netherlands), Chevron (U.S.), Texaco (U.S.), Pan Canadian (Canada), Suncor Energy (Canada), ENI (Italy), Statoil Forskningssenter (Norway), and Norsk Hydro ASA (Norway).

The initial stages of cooperation in the Western Hemisphere include:

  • Debt-for-Forest Swap with El Salvador -- The government of El Salvador will generate over $14 million in funds to conserve tropical forests, leveraging each dollar in debt relief for nearly two dollars in tropical forest conservation in El Salvador. Among the forested areas to be protected is El Salvador’s cloud forest, which is globally outstanding in terms of its biological diversity. The U.S. government is working to execute additional debt-for-forest swaps this year with other eligible countries in the Western Hemisphere and globally.
  • Climate Change Cooperation Among the U.S., Canada, and Mexico -- On June 29, 2001, the environment ministers of each of the three countries initiated a dialogue on global environmental concerns. The three ministers pledged "to explore further opportunities for market-based approaches for carbon sequestration, energy efficiency, and renewable energy in North America."
  • Scientific Cooperation Among the U.S., Mexico and South America -- The U.S. Department of Commerce, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Science Foundation are bringing together more than 100 scientists from the U.S., Mexico, and South America to conduct experiments based out of Hualtulco, Mexico for the Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate Change experiment. This work will produce a better understanding of the interaction of stratus clouds, precipitation, and cool ocean surface temperatures by studying stratus cloud decks located off the west coast of South America, a region of cool sea surface temperatures located along the equator in the eastern Pacific Ocean and a region of intense precipitation located in the eastern Pacific north of the equator.

These initial actions are just the beginning of the cooperation that will take place under the three initiatives. As the elements of these initiatives are worked out in more detail, we anticipate there will be further announcements. At the same time, the United States has a strong history of collaboration with developing countries.

U.S. assistance to developing countries spans the full range of its Convention obligations -- from assisting in the development of National Communications, to facilitating the transfer of technology, to assisting developing countries’ adaptation to the impacts of climate change, to capacity building across a wide range of themes, including greenhouse gas inventories and economic analyses, adaptation, energy, agriculture, and forests.

U.S. assistance also goes beyond its Convention obligations and includes information exchanges, with data being shared from early warning systems, weather satellites, and other observing systems; and economic diversification support, including support of emerging markets and trade-related capacity building.

This assistance takes many forms and is channeled through many organizations, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The USAID has spent some $1.4 billion since 1993 on climate-related mitigation activities. USAID is currently completing a five-year climate change initiative in more than 50 developing and countries with economies in transition to promote sustainable development that minimizes greenhouse gas emissions growth and reduces vulnerability to climate change.

DOE activities include: (1) Clean Cities International (Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and India), which works with coalitions of local stakeholders to develop strategies and initiatives to integrate alternative fuel vehicles into their transportation sector; (2) the International Motor Challenge Program (South Africa, China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Venezuela), a voluntary program that develops and disseminates information, tools and best practices to help local manufacturers make more informed choices about energy-efficient motors to reduce energy costs and increase productivity while mitigating emissions; and (3) collaborations of DOE and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory with the governments of Brazil, Argentina, and Chile to facilitate greater use of renewable energy.

In addition, the U.S. provides as much as one third of the financial support of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and is the largest single contributor to the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

We believe that our approach must be flexible, and must be based on global participation. President Bush has pledged to be creative -- we are committed to protecting our environment and improving our economy, to acting at home and in collaboration with the world, and we look forward to continued work with our friends and allies as we address the challenge of climate change. 

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