Friday, September 11, 2009

Climate Envoy Says Administration Is Committed To Action

Sep 10: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming, Chaired by Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) held a hearing entitled, Roadmap to Copenhagen – Driving towards Success. The hearing focused on progress made thus far and challenges remaining as the December 7-18, UN climate negotiations approach in just 86 days. It featured testimony from the Obama Administration’s top climate negotiator, Todd Stern, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, U.S. Department of State.

Stern testified that, "since I started at State in February, the negotiations we are engaged in revolve primarily around the following issues: mitigation undertakings for both developed and the more advanced developing countries; a regime for measuring, reporting, and verifying all actions taken; the provision of appropriate financial and technology assistance by major economies; and adaptation and forestry issues. We are concentrating our efforts on three related fronts: the formal negotiating track under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Major Economies Forum for Energy and Climate, and bilateral discussions. In addition, we have also worked closely with our colleagues at the Treasury Department who have recently engaged in a new G-20 process on issues related to climate finance. Let me say bluntly that the tenor of negotiations in the formal UN track has been difficult. . .

"The good news – and it is good – is that the major developing countries have started recognizing the seriousness of the problem, their own vulnerability to it, and the need for global action. In some cases, they are taking action at the federal level that outstrips our own. . . the adoption of appropriate financing provisions is pivotal to getting a deal, and I hope that the Senate takes this into account as it develops its own version of a bill. This is not charity. It is squarely in our national interest to help ensure that all countries -- not simply the ones that already have the necessary infrastructure and resources at their disposal –pursue a clean development pathway. As has been often said, this is not at all like local environmental problems. The CO2 emitted in the Middle East hurts us as much as the CO2 emitted in the Mid-West. . ."

"President Obama and the Secretary of State, along with our entire Administration, are committed to action on this issue. We are approaching this issue with the sense of urgency that it demands and are determined to do all we can to make the progress that is necessary to have a successful outcome in Copenhagen. Mr. Chairman, the world is going to make history over the course of the next months and years. We will either make it for the right reasons – because we found common ground and set ourselves on a path toward a new, sustainable, low-carbon model; or for the wrong reasons - because we blinked at the moment of truth and left our children and grandchildren to face the consequences. We have to get this right."

Also, in a related matter, it is now being widely reported that President Obama will be speaking at the special UN Climate Summit with all countries invited on September 22, in New York City [
See WIMS 9/9/09; and WIMS 6/24/09].

Access the Committee announcement and links to a video webcast of Stern's testimony and links to the testimony and opening statement from Chairman Markey (
click here). Access links to media reports of the President's commitment to speak at the Summit (click here).