David B. Sandalow
Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Head of U.S. Delegation
Thirteenth Sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies
Framework Convention on Climate Change
Lyon, France, September 14, 2000
Climate change is an epic environmental challenge. The United States is committed to meeting the challenge of climate change, both through strong domestic actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and by working with other nations to shape a strong and ratifiable agreement. Let me say in the strongest possible terms: the U.S. is committed to the Kyoto Protocol and to its ratification as soon as possible.
We are pleased at the significant progress being made here in Lyon on issues such as capacity building and compliance. However, the pace of progress on other issues, including the market-based mechanisms, is lagging behind. Clearly, much remains to be done. As many others -- including the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Michael Zammit Cutajar -- have warned here in Lyon, we are running out of time to complete our work in preparation for the sixth Conference of the Parties in The Hague. We must all work hard and with an open mind to succeed at The Hague.
I am pleased to report that the U.S. is starting to win the battle against greenhouse gas emissions. The last few years have produced a widening disparity between the fast growing U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the much slower growth in greenhouse gas emissions. In 1998 and 1999, the U.S. GDP grew by more than 4% while CO2 emissions grew by only about 1%. In fact, the growth in U.S. greenhouse emissions is slower than in most European countries.
I would like to spotlight three key issues that the United States believes must be resolved to achieve a ratifiable international agreement.
The first is environmental integrity. The Protocol exists to serve an environmental purpose: to begin to reduce the emissions of the gases that will alter the global climate in an unprecedented manner. Any elaboration and implementation of the Protocol must assure the world that the reductions and removals of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere have actually occurred. Toward this end, the United States has taken the lead in proposing comprehensive, effective and binding rules to monitor and report emissions and removals, to track emission trades and to encourage compliance with the obligations of the Protocol. The United States has also supported legally binding consequences for exceeding emissions targets. We believe such consequences should make the atmosphere whole, and thereby help to improve the environment. Furthermore, the U.S. believes these measures should be agreed in advance.
The second issue is cost-effectiveness. Over the long run, predictable, cost-effective reductions will allow for the greatest environmental benefit possible for every dollar spent on climate change. Cost-effective action is only possible if the Kyoto mechanisms and sinks can be implemented as widely and as simply as possible while preserving the environmental integrity of the Protocol. Overly bureaucratic requirements or artificial limits on these important tools will only restrict the ability of the Parties to act and undermine support for the Protocol.
The third issue is participation by developing countries. Climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution. Industrialized countries must take the lead, but other countries must also contribute in ways that promote their sustainable development. Many developing countries are already making significant strides to improve energy efficiency, slow deforestation and otherwise stem their emissions growth. The Clean Development Mechanism will provide the means for many countries to take additional action while growing their economies.
Shaping the rules and procedures of the Kyoto Protocol is a highly complex and complicated process. We must succeed. We must rely on science to guide our negotiations and take strength in our common commitment to protect this earth for future generations. Thank you.
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