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Remarks at the High-Level Meeting on Forests and Climate

Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
Sydney, Australia
July 22, 2007

Prepared Remarks for Ministerial Roundtable

Thank you Minister Turnbull, Deputy Secretary Bamsey and the Australian government for organizing this very important meeting. As our understanding of the climate system has strengthened, so too has our understanding of the opportunities to address climate change.

There is now broad recognition of the effectiveness of addressing climate change in the context of advancing energy security and sustainable economic development. It is also increasingly clear that how we use our land and natural resources is an important part of the climate equation. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Howard, Minister Downer, and Minister Turnbull, Australia has been taking strong action on climate change.

Right here in Sydney last year, Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and the United States joined together to launch the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate a new, cooperative model for cutting emissions and fostering economic growth.

And we know that Prime Minister Howard is working to address climate change domestically, and in June announced that Australia will set a long term national goal for reducing carbon emissions. Australia’s decision and President Bush’s major new international initiative on climate change, announced in May, are complementary.

The President’s initiative builds on a foundation of U.S. action to improve energy security and cut greenhouse gas emissions. U.S. efforts include: $37 billion dedicated to climate technology, international assistance, and incentive programs since 2001;a strong set of partnerships to advance clean energy technologies; with the participation of a number of countries represented here today; and a plan to reduce gasoline use in the United States by twenty percent in the next ten years.

We are making progress. In 2006, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 1.3%, while the U.S. economy grew by 3.3%. Our experience at home has shown that a strong economy can help people at the same time that it protects the environment. As part of his new international initiative, President Bush called on the world’s major economies to set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases.

The United States will convene a series of meetings with other countries including rapidly growing economies like India and China to establish a new framework for the post-2012 world. Each country would establish midterm national targets, and programs that reflect their own energy needs. By sharing the best new energy technologies, we believe that the world’s major economies will be able to achieve realistic and ambitious reduction goals.

As an important part of this new initiative, President Bush committed to work with all of the nations that are Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. A focus of our efforts will be to promote climate adaptation, access to clean technologies, and especially relevant to our meeting here this week sustainable forestry and agriculture.

So we believe that President Bush’s new initiative, our ongoing efforts under the UNFCCC, and our work here in Australia are all connected. They are part of a new, cooperative approach to address climate change more effectively a framework that will take into account the importance of strong economies, clean energy technologies, and the sustainable use of the world’s natural resources.

To stress what Minister Turnbull has said, a significant portion – nearly 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions result from deforestation and other land use changes. As we’ve learned more about land-use-related emissions, we’ve learned more about what works to reduce deforestation.

As is true with our broader efforts to address climate change, we know that we are much more likely to succeed in combating deforestation if we ensure opportunities for people to build a better life. The United States has welcomed Prime Minister Howard’s establishment of a new Global Initiative on Forests and Climate.

And we welcome Australia’s new proposal for a Global Carbon Monitoring System for Forests and Climate, and look forward to exploring how this could complement the work of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Along with our G8 partners, the United States has encouraged the World Bank to develop and implement a forest carbon partnership as soon as possible. So we are very much looking forward to our discussions with our World Bank partners tomorrow on this.

Under the Global Environment Facility, we are working with partners to establish a new program within the climate change focal area to fund land use and forestry projects that reduce emissions. And through our own programs and partnerships, the United States has a long record of promoting the sustainable management of forests.

The United States commits $80 million per year to help developing countries reduce deforestation. Under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, the United States has established debt-for-nature programs with 11 countries which will generate over $135 million to help protect 20 million hectares of important tropical forests around the world.

Through the President’s Initiative Against Illegal Logging, the United States is working with partners to strengthen the rule of law, empower communities and promote transparent business practices. In 2004, we launched the Liberia Forest Initiative to put the forest sector on a legal and sustainable basis in the post-war era. In 2006, we concluded an important agreement with Indonesia to help stop illegal logging and associated trade. And we’ve committed an initial $1 million to this effort.

We are now discussing an agreement with China. Illegal logging and related trade is a shared concern, and we recognize our responsibilities as major timber producers, consumers and traders.

And as a founding partner of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, we have committed $68 million to help the people of Central Africa manage their forests.These actions are conserving forests. They are also reducing the carbon emissions caused by deforestation. And so these efforts are making important contributions to the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

Consistent with President Bush’s emphasis on deforestation in his recent initiative, we are looking forward to the UN climate conference in Bali to advance our collective efforts. I hope and expect that our work here this week will strengthen these ongoing and emerging partnerships, and position us for success in Bali and beyond. Thank you very much, I look forward to our discussions.

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