United States Engaging U.N. Partners To Confront Climate Change

By Judy Aita
USINFO United Nations Correspondent

United Nations - The United States is working with the international community to confront climate change in a manner that does not affect nations’ ability to promote growth and development, acting U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Alejandro Wolff says.

The United States is a leader in devising arrangements to advance technology development that will ensure businesses and other groups, together with governments, deal with the challenges of climate change constructively, productively, effectively and realistically, Wolff told the U.N. Security Council April 17 during a meeting on energy, security and climate.

The meeting, chaired by British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, focused on the effects of energy needs, climate change and sustainable development on societies, especially poor countries.  The debate by the council's 15 members along with 40 other nations brought out the complexity of the issue, the challenges faced around the world and the need for myriad ways to mitigate the threat of global warming.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council that issues of energy and climate change can have implications for peace and security, especially in vulnerable regions that face multiple stresses such as pre-existing conflict, poverty, unequal access to resources, weak institutions, food insecurity and incidence of diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

No country plays a more prominent role in finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the global environment and enhance energy security in ways that promote human development both at home and abroad than the United States, Wolff said.

The Bush administration, he said, has pledged $500 million to the Global Environmental Facility over the next four years to help developing countries deal with environmental problems. The facility, established in 1991, supports projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer and persistent organic pollutants.

Other U.S. activities and programs include an agreement with China to install a large methane power facility, expanded investment and trade in cleaner energy technologies through the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate, cooperation with Brazil to advance biofuels and $1.65 billion in tax credits for the commercial deployment of clean coal technology.

Domestically, the United States is on track to meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas intensity (a measure of gas emissions per unit of gross domestic product) by 18 percent by 2012 as compared to the levels that would be emitted if no abatement steps were taken. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions increased only 0.6 percent between 2004 and 2005, compared with an average 1 percent increase per year over the 1990-2005 period, Wolff said.

Dealing with global warming also requires good governance, the ambassador said.  Countries that govern effectively can better anticipate and manage the economic and political challenges that may come with climate change.

"Successful development strategies focus on education, rule of law, human freedom and economic opportunity," he said.  "Well-governed countries grow and prosper.  Economic growth provides the resources, in both developed and developing countries, to address energy and environmental challenges, including challenges associated with climate change."

A transcript of Wolff's remarks is available on the U.S. Mission to the United Nations Web site.

For more information about U.S. policies, see Climate Change and Clean Energy