Statement from Charge d’Affaires Daniel Clune:
President Obama will speak to world leaders on climate change during a special U.N. summit in New York on the eve of the 64th U.N. General Assembly. Climate change is one of our greatest global challenges. Water supplies are increasingly at risk from both melting glaciers and extreme climate events, such as droughts and floods. Winter temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula have risen five times faster than the global average and the duration of sea-ice coverage has decreased. Arctic sea ice is disappearing faster than expected, and sea levels threaten to rise higher than previously anticipated. These changes threaten not only the environment, but also security and stability.
Science sends a simple and stark message: all countries must work together to combat climate change and the time for action is now.
President Obama recognizes that the United States, as the world’s largest historic emitter of greenhouse gases, must be a leader in the global effort to combat climate change. Without U.S. emissions reductions no solution to climate change is possible, so the U.S. will take the lead in building a 21st century clean energy economy.
The President, taking the United States in a new direction, called on our Congress to develop comprehensive clean energy legislation to cut emissions 14 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. A bill has passed the House of Representatives and is making its way through Congress. The President’s economic stimulus package includes over $80 billion for clean energy. Recently instituted vehicle standards will increase fuel economy and reduce emissions. These steps are comparable to those being undertaken in other countries and lead to emissions reductions that are consistent with the science.
To preserve a safe and livable planet, all major emitting nations have to join together to take strong action. There is no other way to contain climate change – the International Energy Agency estimates 97 percent of future emissions growth will come from the developing world.
The United States is working internationally to combat climate change through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiating process, the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate and bilateral relationships.
All countries must be fully engaged in a strong international agreement to meet the climate challenge. Developed countries need to reduce their emissions substantially by 2020 on an absolute basis. Major developing nations must take actions that will substantially reduce their emissions by 2020 on a relative basis, compared to their so-called “business as usual” path. Other developing countries should focus on preparing low-carbon growth plans – including financial and technical assistance – as part of their long-term growth.
It is important to ensure that a new agreement not only limit carbon emissions but also provide a pathway for sustainable development. Clean energy development is the only sustainable way forward. Countries with advanced capabilities must stand ready to develop and disseminate technologies to countries in need. Working together, the effort to build a clean energy global economy can provide significant opportunity, driving investment, economic growth and job creation around the world.
The United States appreciates Australia’s efforts to help address the challenge of climate change, including ramping up deployment of renewable energy technologies. Australia is at the forefront of cleaner coal technology and carbon sequestration efforts. It is also assisting its neighbors to reduce deforestation and is working with Pacific Island states to strengthen their ability to adapt to climate change.
The United States is clear in its intent to secure a strong international agreement, and I am confident that together we can meet the climate change challenge.