Thursday, December 17, 2009

Secy. Clinton Says Lack Of Transparency Is "Kind Of A Dealbreaker"

Dec 17: At yesterday's Department of State press briefing it was announced that Secretary Hillary Clinton would be traveling to Copenhagen, Denmark to participate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), COP 15/CMP 5 meeting. It was stated that, "She and the President decided that she could play a useful role in helping close gaps in the -- our climate talks there by traveling to Copenhagen and personally participating." Today, Secretary Clinton is attending some of the events that are intended for leaders, such as the gala dinner tonight and will attend events in advance of the President, who arrives Friday morning (December 18). She is conducting a number of bilateral meetings.

At a press briefing today, she said, "We have now reached the critical juncture in these negotiations. I understand that the talks have been difficult. I know that our team, along with many others, are working hard and around the clock to forge a deal. And we will continue doing all that we can do. But the time is at hand for all countries to reach for common ground and take an historic step that we can all be proud of. There is a way forward based on a number of core elements: decisive national actions, an operational accord that internationalizes those actions, assistance for nations that are the most vulnerable and least prepared to meet the effects of climate change, and standards of transparency that provide credibility to the entire process. The world community should accept no less."

In an important announcement relating to developed countries providing funding for developing countries. She emphasized that the effort is designed to assist "the poorest and most vulnerable" countries, implying that the funding is not intended for major developing countries link China, India and Brazil. She said, ". . .we also recognize that an agreement must provide generous financial and technological support for developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, to help them reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. That’s why we joined an effort to mobilize fast-start funding that will ramp up to $10 billion in 2012 to support the adaptation and mitigation efforts of countries in need.

"And today I’d like to announce that, in the context of a strong accord in which all major economies stand behind meaningful mitigation actions and provide full transparency as to their implementation, the United States is prepared to work with other countries toward a goal of jointly mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the climate change needs of developing countries. We expect this funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance. This will include a significant focus on forestry and adaptation, particularly, again I repeat, for the poorest and most vulnerable among us."

She concluded, "Over the next two days, we will be discussing these issues further. This problem is not going away, even when we leave Copenhagen. But neither is our resolve. We must try to overcome the obstacles that remain. We must not only seize this moment, but raise our oars together and row in the same direction toward our common destination and destiny. And the United States is ready to do our part."

In response to a question asking whether the U.S. would walk away from the agreement if China does not commit to transparency, incorporating their commitments into an international treaty that the U.S. is asking; she said, "It would be hard to imagine, speaking for the United States, that there could be the level of financial commitment that I have just announced in the absence of transparency from the second biggest emitter - and now I guess the first biggest emitter, and now nearly, if not already, the second biggest economy."

In response to a question regarding what standards the U.S. would expect China and other major developing nations to meet in order for there to be a deal in which the U.S. could go ahead with a financial commitment; she said, "Well, we have presented and discussed numerous approaches to transparency with a number of countries and there are many ways to achieve transparency that would be credible and acceptable. But there has to be a willingness to move toward transparency in whatever form we finally determine is appropriate. So, if there is not even a commitment to pursue transparency, that’s kind of a dealbreaker for us. . . there have been occasions in this past year when all the major economies have committed to transparency. Now that we are trying to define what transparency means and how we would both implement it and observe it, there is a backing away from transparency. And, you know, that to us is something that undermines the whole effort that we’re engaged in."

In response to a question on details of the funding commitments for developing countries, it was mentioned that the EU has committed about 10 billion dollars, Japan 15 billion and so what the U.S. offering; she responded briefly, "We are committed to the fast funding start, and we are going to do our proportion of it. .."

Following Secretary Clinton's comments, the Associated Press reported later in the day that "China says it is willing to provide details about its actions to control carbon emissions, moving to meet a key US demand for verification of China's promises to fight global warming." AP quoted Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei as saying China is ready for "dialogue and cooperation that is not intrusive, that does not infringe on China's sovereignty."

Access the complete transcript of Secretary Clinton's statement and press briefing (
click here). Access the U.S. Department of State Copenhagen website for text and video of U.S. press briefings and various releases (click here). Access the UNFCCC website for links to all documents and videos of all press briefings (click here). Access the AP report (click here).