U.S. Works on Adaptation, Technology Transfer at Climate Meeting

By Cheryl Pellerin
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - Adapting to climate change, especially for developing countries, is a main focus for the U.N. Climate Change Conference taking place in Nairobi, Kenya, November 6-17.

The United States is participating in the conference, which is aimed at helping developing nations adapt to the effects of climate change involves creating techniques that can help increase resilience to climate-change impacts - such as developing salt- and drought-resistant crops - and exchanging best practices for adaptation.

The two-week international gathering is the 12th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP-12), held in conjunction with the second meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 2).

The Conference of the Parties is the convention’s highest decision-making authority, and it is an association of all countries that are parties to it.

More than 6,000 participants are expected at the first conference of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, whose countries are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

“The United States is focused on making progress under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC] at COP-12,” Harlan Watson, senior climate negotiator at the State Department and a member of the U.S. delegation, said during a November 6 press conference in Nairobi. “We are a party to the Framework Convention and are doing much to contribute to its objectives.” (See related article.)

Parties to the convention that are not parties to the protocol, like the United States, can participate in the COP/MOP as observers but cannot make decisions.


The Bush administration has committed nearly $29 billion for climate change-related activities since 2001, Watson said, and the president’s budget for fiscal year 2007 requests another $6.5 billion.

“Because of this aggressive strategy,” he added, “we are well on our way to meeting our target [for slowing the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere], and we are reducing both our emissions growth and emissions intensity at a faster rate than most countries covered by the Kyoto Protocol.”

Under the Kyoto Protocol, an amendment to the UNFCCC, more than 30 industrialized countries are bound legally to meet specific reduction targets for emissions of greenhouse gases between 2008 and 2012.

U.S. climate-change policy is based on the conviction that it is best to address this complex issue through a range of programs and technology initiatives and partnerships based on near- and long-term sustainable development and clean-energy objectives.

In 1992, the UNFCCC was adopted as the basis for a global response to the problem. The objective of the 189-member convention is to stabilize greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent human interference with the climate system.

At COP-12, the second workshop under the Convention Dialogue on Long-Term Cooperative Action (the Dialogue) to address climate change by enhancing implementation of the convention will be held November 15-16.

Watson said the United States looks forward to participating in the Dialogue.

“We see its focus on sustainable development and market-friendly approaches as a useful way of broadening the way in which climate issues are seen,” he added.

For more information about U.S. environmental and climate change policy, see Environment.

More information about the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change is available on the UNFCCC Web site.