November 18th, 2006 03:25 EST
State's Dobriansky Recaps U.S. Efforts on Climate Change
Washington -- Assisting developing nations deal with critical environmental challenges like climate change is a top priority of the Bush administration, Paula Dobriansky, under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs, told a U.N. climate change conference November 15.
Dobriansky headed the U.S. delegation to the 12th Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention and the second meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol held in Nairobi, Kenya, November 6-17.
The Kyoto Protocol is an amendment to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Countries that ratify this protocol commit to reducing their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases, or engage in emissions trading if they maintain or increase emissions of these gases, which have been linked to global warming. The agreement came into force on February 16, 2005, following its official ratification by Russia on November 18, 2004. The United States is not a signatory to the protocol.
Dobriansky told the gathering on November 15 that "the focus today [for the United States] is on our numerous efforts in sub-Saharan Africa that address energy needs, clean development, and climate change."
Representatives of the more than 160 nations who are signatories to the Climate Change Convention were meeting for 10 days in East Africa to examine its impact on Africa and developing nations.
Dobriansky said she felt "a sense of momentum here" toward solving the problem that threatens the world adding, "President Bush recognizes this and has made collaboration with Africa a priority. "
"Climate change is a serious long-term issue that cannot be addressed in isolation," she stressed. "That is why we have many partnerships that address the linked and multiple challenges of ending poverty, increasing energy security, minimizing greenhouse gases, and increasing access to energy."
"Great promise lies ahead for Africa," Dobriansky said, and pledged that the United States "will support African efforts on that journey."
"With us today," Dobriansky told the Nairobi gathering, "We have a great and experienced panel of U.S. government representatives, " to speak specifically about these partnerships, which are "achieving significant results," she added.
Examples she cited include:
" The Initiative to End Hunger in Africa, which helps close to 3 million people and combats pollution and land overuse by making more efficient agricultural technologies available to rural communities;
" Congo Basin Forest Partnership, Liberian Forest Initiative, and the Tropical Forest Conservation Acts, U.S. government partnerships that protect natural resources while also providing economic opportunities for communities that depend on the forest and wildlife resources;"
" "Adaptation programs," such as the Famine Early Warning System Network, which use observation data to warn of potential famines, sparing unnecessary land exhaustion by overfarming;
" Global Climate Observation System, which will ensure that the information needed to address climate-related issues are made available to all potential users; and
" Energy partnerships, such as the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles, "which helped to phase out leaded gasoline in all 49 sub-Saharan states thus improving air quality for hundreds of millions."
Speaking at the White House in 2001, President Bush acknowledged that the United States is the world`s largest emitter of man-made greenhouse gases. We account for almost 20 percent of the world`s man-made greenhouse emissions."
But he added that the United States now accounts "for about one-quarter of the world`s economic output. We recognize the responsibility to reduce our emissions. We also recognize the other part of the story -- that the rest of the world emits 80 percent of all greenhouse gases. And many of those emissions come from developing countries." Which is "a challenge that requires a 100 percent effort; ours, and the rest of the world`s. "
As part of that effort, Bush launched the Methane to Markets Partnership, a $235 million public/private investment initiative that harnesses methane as a clean energy source. (See related article.)
Regarding that initiative, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said, "As good global neighbors, America is working with our international partners to reduce our climate footprints in aggressive yet practical ways."
The full text of Dobriansky`s remarks is available on the State Department`s Web site.
(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)