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Remarks on the Post-2012 Climate Regime

Paula J. Dobriansky, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
Remarks at the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development
Chiba, Japan
March 16, 2008

Among the achievements of the Gleneagles process is a broadened appreciation and understanding that climate change, energy security, and sustainable development are among the greatest challenges that we face.

The United States remains fully committed to addressing these challenges by achieving an agreed outcome under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. President Bush has made it clear that the United States will do its part to cut greenhouse gas emissions at home.

In fact, earlier this month at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference, the President said "We're going to change the way we drive our cars; and we'll change the way we power our businesses and homes."

The action we take at home to promote clean energy technologies is part of our broader effort to address climate change and promote sustainable development around the world. We recognize that international cooperation is critical. Moreover, in order for an international climate and energy agreement to be truly effective, it must include concrete commitments by every major economy.

The character of the commitment among major economies must be common, while the content of that commitment will differ depending on each country's circumstances and capabilities. We recognize the importance of the important principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

The UN Climate Conference in Bali opened an important new chapter in climate diplomacy. The United States shares the enthusiasm of our international partners over the Bali Plan of Action.The Bali plan highlights the importance of "measurable, reportable, and verifiable" nationally appropriate contributions from all countries.

This is important. We want to see a post-2012 framework that is environmentally effective and economically sustainable. It must support sustainable development. Achieving this will not be easy. Environmental effectiveness requires ambition.Environmental effectiveness also requires that future arrangements encourage, not deter, participation of all countries.

Our post-2012 framework will need to accommodate a wide range of national circumstances and approaches. I would note that this concept has been stressed throughout the Gleneagles process. We are also convinced the agreed outcome should be as simple and practical as possible.

Future arrangements should be sufficiently flexible to permit new ideas and approaches to be introduced as they emerge over time. The world in 2008 is different from the world in 1992, when the UNFCCC was signed.

The world will continue to change, and our new arrangement should be adaptable to that. Just as we take account of changes in science understanding, so should we take into account evolving trends in emissions and economic capacity. As called for in the Bali Action Plan, the United States provided a submission last month to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat outlining some of our thoughts on a post-2012 arrangement.

Let me share with you a few of the points that we described in that submission:

First, as part of our development of a shared vision, we strongly support the identification of a long-term shared global goal. Such a goal should relate to emissions reductions, be realistic, and be calibrated by taking into account factors such as science and likely technology development and diffusion. The goal should not be used for burden sharing.

Second, consistent with the Bali outcome, we see discussions focusing on nationally appropriate actions that are measurable, reportable, and verifiable. Meaningful actions from all countries with a significant emissions profile will be critical. We believe that any future arrangement must reflect the desires of developing countries and all countries to grow their economies.

Third, we believe that sectoral approaches could be a useful way to identify mitigation opportunities. They can provide flexibility for countries with different circumstances. We support an early examination of mitigation potential and costs in various sectors. In other contexts, breaking down a tough issue into smaller components has been helpful.

Fourth, mitigation and adaptation are distinct issues. Mitigation efforts are necessarily collective. Adaptation, by contrast, will occur at national, regional, and local levels, and is an inherent part of development planning. We believe that discussions over the next two years can do much to mobilize resources and efforts to adaptation.

Fifth, technology development and deployment will be a decisive factor in how quickly and effectively we can address climate change. The United States will continue to play a leading role. And we encourage all of our partners, and especially the G8 and all major economies, to scale up investments in research and development.

Finally, financing. As we discussed yesterday, investment tools will be critical. Financing will not be limited to that under the UNFCCC. It will be important to find a way to undertake measures that are already available to all countries to reduce greenhouse gases at relatively low net economic cost. We will also need to pursue measures that have benefits to energy security, environmental improvement and pollution reduction.

All of these issues are complex and interrelated. At the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooprerative Action under the UNFCCC in Bangkok later this month, we hope we can develop an ambitious work programme for the months ahead, one which will allow us to make rapid progress as we prepare for our meetings in Poznan and Copenhagen.

In support of the UNFCCC process, we look forward to the continuation of the Major Economies Process in France in mid-April. We believe that the Major Economies Process can provide valuable input into the UNFCCC discussions by fostering a frank and pragmatic discussion of the issues I outlined earlier and developing a detailed contribution on those issues to the UNFCCC talks.

In closing, I want to congratulate and thank the Government of Japan for their excellent work in convening this fourth and final Ministerial Meeting of the Gleneagles Dialogue. I also applaud the Governments of the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Germany for hosting the previous Ministerial Meetings of this dialogue. Our success in Bali would not have been possible without the Gleneagles process, and it has set us on firm footing for the important work ahead.



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