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US Special Briefing at Climate Change Conference

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    ... wrote: US Special Briefing at Climate Change Conference Thursday, 9 December 2004, 2:16 pm Press Release: US State Department Special
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 9, 2004
      --- In fuelcell-energy@yahoogroups.com, "janson2997"
      <janson1997@y...> wrote:

      US Special Briefing at Climate Change Conference
      Thursday, 9 December 2004, 2:16 pm
      Press Release: US State Department

      Special Briefing at the Tenth Conference of the Parties to the UN
      Framework Convention on Climate Change

      Dr. Harlan L. Watson, Senior Climate Negotiator and Special
      Representative and Alternate Head of the United States Delegation

      Tenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on
      Climate Change
      Buenos Aires, Argentina
      December 7, 2004

      Dr. Watson: We welcome and congratulate the government of
      Argentina on hosting the meeting here and for the excellent
      arrangements they have made. We are certainly committed to working
      constructively and to having positive outcomes of this Conference of
      the Parties..
      The United States does remain committed to the Framework
      Convention and to achieving its ultimate objective. However, we are
      taking a different path than Kyoto, which many of the parties here are
      taking. With regard to the actions the United States is taking, they
      are many, and I would challenge many of the Kyoto Protocol Parties to
      match us in the activities we are taking both domestically and

      First of all, we have three prongs in our climate policy which
      President Bush announced in February 2002. The first is to reduce our
      greenhouse gas intensity at home, thereby slowing the growth of our
      greenhouse gas emissions. Second, we are making substantial
      investments in science and technology and institutions designed to
      address both climate change in the near term and in the long term.
      And, third, we are engaging actively in international cooperation --
      both on a bilateral basis and on a multilateral basis.

      With regard to our domestic program, we are committed to reducing
      our greenhouse gas intensity by 18% over the ten-year period
      2002-2012. This is a domestic commitment the President made. We are
      doing this through a number of programs through both incentives and
      voluntary programs, and through some mandatory programs such as
      improving the fuel economy of our automobiles, improving the
      efficiency of our appliances and so on.

      With regard to science, the United States is spending some $2
      billion annually on the science of climate change, to address the
      uncertainties and help reduce these uncertainties. We spent some $23
      billion dollars since 1990 when the U.S. Global Change Research
      Program was first initiated.

      On the technology side, we spend approximately $3 billion dollars
      annually on a variety of technologies, the implementation of which
      would allow us to reduce our greenhouse gases over the long term. This
      includes both near-term options such as solar, and other renewable
      energy technologies, energy efficiency technologies, advanced fossil
      technologies -- and some longer-term technologies, such as advanced
      nuclear, both in fission and fusion, as well as strong investments in
      hydrogen and in carbon capture and storage.

      Internationally -- we are engaged both, as I mentioned before, on
      a bilateral basis as well as multilaterally. Bilaterally, we have
      established partnerships with 14 countries and regional organizations
      -- many of which are Kyoto parties and some of which are not. We have
      well over 200 projects with our partners addressing climate change
      science, clean energy technologies, earth observations and so forth.
      We have also initiated, as I mentioned yesterday, some five
      multilateral initiatives -- science and technology initiatives:

      The Group on Earth Observations -- which is involving over 50
      nations and 30 international organizations, as well as the European
      Commission, I might add, on helping to design and implement, over the
      next ten years, a comprehensive earth observation system which will
      provide data not only on climate change but also on other
      environmental issues.

      We have a very strong partnership among 10 countries and the
      EURATOM on the Generation IV International Forum which is working to
      develop a new generation of nuclear reactors, which will be safer and
      more economic and secure, from a proliferation standpoint.

      The Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, with some 16 countries
      and the European Commission, is working on technologies that will
      allow the capture and storage, in a safe and environmental manner, of
      emissions from fossil fuel burning plants.

      The International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy -- where
      again we have 16 countries and the European Commission -- is working
      to advance the global transition to a hydrogen economy.

      And most recently, the Methane-to-Markets Partnership where 13
      countries joined the United States this summer to launch an innovative
      program that will be targeted on reducing methane emissions, which is
      the second most important greenhouse gas. With regard to this latter
      partnership, the U.S. committed some $53 million to the Partnership
      over the next five years.

      I want to close my opening remarks by referring to President
      Bush�s commitment he made in June 2001 to develop with friends and
      allies and nations throughout the world an effective and science-based
      response to address climate change. The United States supports the
      development of an integrated approach to partnerships among
      governments, the private sector and NGOs that promotes economic
      growth, improves economic efficiency and productivity, enhances energy
      security, increases the availability of cleaner, more efficient energy
      resources and, of course, reduces pollution all in ways that have the
      effect of reducing nations' greenhouse gas intensity.

      We believe that economic development is absolutely key to
      addressing this issue, because without economic development and
      economic growth around the world we are not going to be able to afford
      the new technologies that we need to address the problem in the long

      And with that, I will be happy to stop and take any questions that
      you might have. Thank you.

      Reuters: Dr. Watson, you told us about the goal of reducing the
      GHG intensity by 18% over the next 10 years. I wanted to know where
      U.S. emissions will stand in 2012 relative to 1990, because I
      understand that your emissions rose since 1990 right now, are up 13%
      and well, I'd rather you do the math for me.

      Dr. Watson: Well, I quite frankly don't have off the top of my
      head maybe my colleagues of the DOE can address what our latest
      projection is. I believe we are forecasted, under a business-as-usual
      scenario, to be up approximately 20% by 2010. But, Dave, do you have
      that figure at the top of your head?

      David Conover [Director, Climate Change Technology Program, U.S.
      Department of Energy]: No, I don't.

      Dr. Watson: O.K. I think the projections, again under the latest
      business-as-usual [scenario], we would expect a 4% reduction from
      that, which would get us about 15% or 16% above 1990 levels.

      German Radio: Can you please tell us how would an international
      climate change protection regime from the time after 2012 have to look
      so it could be ratified by the U.S.?

      Dr. Watson: Quite frankly, we don't believe it's time to address
      the post-2012 time frame. We are very focused on implementing the
      President's program domestically. We think there are many lessons that
      will be learned from that process, which can inform the international
      process. We believe the same is true for those who will be working to
      implement the Kyoto Protocol. Of course, what is still to be decided
      among the Kyoto Parties is the type of compliance regime that will be
      agreed to; whether, of course, the Kyoto mechanisms - exactly how all
      those will work out. Of course, European trading systems and other
      trading systems under development still have to be implemented. Again,
      we will learn many, many lessons from that. And, quite frankly,
      whether or not the Kyoto Parties will be willing to take on what we
      believe would be non-growth economic policies; [they will be] required
      to meet the targets. So, for all of these reasons, we do not believe
      that it is the appropriate time to talk about post-2012 negotiations.

      Agence France-Presse: I just want to understand your figures on
      what you're spending this fiscal year. Can one add $3 billion this
      year and $2 billion annually to say that you're spending $5 billion on
      climate change science and on new technologies? I mean, to simplify
      matters, can I do that or how would you do the arithmetic? Thank you.

      Dr. Watson: Yes. Actually, Congress, by the way, is still working
      on our 2005 budget. The President's overall request for climate change
      programs was $5.8 billion, $5 billion of which were spent on science
      and technology - $2 billion on the science and $3 billion on the
      technology. We also have some significant amounts requested before
      Congress with regard to tax incentives to encourage the use of clean
      energy technologies as well as, of course, our assistance to
      developing countries through our contributions to GEF and other
      international bodies.

      Energy Daily: You mentioned the President's statement in June 2001
      committing to a science-based response to the problem of global
      warming. Can we infer that the U.S. does not consider the Kyoto
      Protocol to be based on sound science?

      Dr. Watson: The Kyoto Protocol was a political agreement. It was
      not based on science.

      German Press Agency: You've been telling us all the efforts the
      U.S. is making concerning climate change. Can you tell us when the
      world can expect that GHG emissions will really decrease? In which
      year will this be - in 2020 or when would that be? And a second
      question, if you allow me, what went wrong in American way of life
      that you have almost doubled GHG emissions in comparison to countries
      in Europe with the same living standard, more or less? What went wrong
      in the States?

      Dr. Watson: Let me address the last part first, and I'll turn to
      my colleague in the Department of Energy to perhaps provide some more
      detail on some of our technology programs. Nothing went wrong in the
      U.S. We are blessed with economic growth. In most developed countries
      and developing countries economic growth implies more energy use,
      which typically implies more emissions. I might say, by the way, that
      your sweeping statement about European reductions does not hold
      across-the-board, because you should know there have been substantial
      increases in a number of countries in Europe. I'm not going to name
      any countries, but I think you all know who they are.

      David, would you like to address the first question?

      David Conover: Thank you. We are making substantial investments in
      both near-term deployment of energy-efficiency and renewable energy.
      The total budget for our program is over $3 billion, as Harlan
      indicated, and fully a quarter of that is deployment of technologies
      today that will have an impact on reductions of greenhouse gas

      The larger efforts that we have going will phase in over the near,
      the mid-term and long-term. The Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy
      [and the President�s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative are aiming for] the 2015
      time-frame [for commercialization of] hydrogen-powered vehicles.

      The FutureGen program is clean coal with sequestration producing
      hydrogen and electricity, and is also on schedule for that time frame.

      The GEN IV nuclear programs that Harlan mentioned are aiming at
      the 2035 time-frame. And, ITER and the fusion effort is aiming to the
      middle of the century, in the 2050 time-frame.

      So we are phasing these technologies as we move forward. We have
      strong investments in the near term, and we believe that the intensity
      metric that we are using is the appropriate metric to recognize both
      reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and continued economic growth.

      Question: My question is, beyond climate itself, which
      consequences does the U.S. perceive that is suffering from the
      dependence on fossil carbon? Now, the reason for my question is that
      in today's local "Buenos Aires Herald", which is in English, there's a
      reproduction of an article by Thomas Friedman. He points out that, in
      effect, the National Science Foundation will be funded less by 105
      million dollars next year. That means that there's a reduction of 2%,
      and he also points out that by paying these high amounts of money for
      imports of oil we are actually funding terrorism that's going to the
      U.S and the question was simply that beyond climate itself, what other
      consequences does the U.S. have now from the dependence on fossil

      Dr. Watson: You're getting way beyond my area of expertise. But,
      clearly, it is having an impact in the increased oil prices and
      obviously has had an impact in what we have seen at the fuel pumps and
      so on. And I believe that all of the forecasts are that we are going
      to have lower economic growth than we otherwise would have - as will
      the rest of the world. Beyond that you are getting way beyond my realm
      of expertise. I really don't want to comment.

      O Globo, Brazil: My question is if the U.S. is doing so many
      things to reduce emissions as they say here, why do you think there
      are so many negative opinions about the Bush administration that seems
      to be like the bad boy. Why is that if you're doing so much and

      Dr. Watson: Thank you for your question. I'm not sure why we are
      considered the "bad boys." Let me just say that perhaps there's a
      perception that it is more important to agree to things rather than
      taking actions. We believe the focus ought to be on the actions. But,
      agreeing to Kyoto does not necessarily mean that you're going to meet
      those commitments. And again, much more focus ought to be put on the
      actions Again, our focus there is highlighting our actions. We believe
      we match or exceed what any other country in the world is doing to
      address the issue.

      BBC News: There's been quite a lot of criticism of your attempts
      yesterday to keep discussion off the agenda of the various conferences
      coming up next year - on Disaster Relief and on the problems of Small
      Island States. The interpretation that some of the NGO's are putting
      on this is that you are very concerned not to admit the causal link
      between climate change and some of the problems being discussed there
      because of the possible liability issues that might arise if that link
      was admitted. Can you comment on that?

      Dr. Watson: Yes, let me say that our intervention there was to
      make sure that there is appropriate input from the Framework
      Convention on Climate Change into those other two meetings that are
      coming up in Mauritius on the Barbados Plan of Action - as well as the
      Kobe World Conference on Disaster Reduction. And then, of course, the
      input in the Commission on Sustainable Development process, which will
      be from 2006 to 2007.

      Each of the upcoming meetings that will occur in January of next
      year has their own negotiating sessions. Certainly, climate is
      featured in the current negotiating text. We believe that those are
      the appropriate fora to negotiate those texts. Quite frankly, one of
      our concerns here is that this meeting will be used as an opportunity
      to try to negotiate things here in a forum which is really not
      appropriate. Again, those negotiations will take place, and the
      results of those will take place both in Mauritius and in Kobe at the
      end of January.

      We also have a problem with the Framework Convention, trying to
      provide inputs into meetings in general. Our time here is very
      limited, and there are many, many issues on the plate. Procedurally,
      if the Conference of the Parties starts to provide input to every
      meeting that is occurring, nothing else will get done. In fact, we
      won't even work through the list of meetings.

      Lastly, we want to make sure that, again, the attention is focused
      on what it is that the Convention is actually doing to contribute to
      those processes. There are many, many activities which are being
      carried out under the Framework Convention which are relevant to both
      the meetings in Mauritius and Kobe -- particularly our work on
      adaptation is certainly very relevant, and we expect a very positive
      outcome on adaptation as well as other major steps that have been
      undertaken under the Convention processes.

      There is an agreement that was reached that the focus [of the COP
      plenary discussion] will be on an exchange of views on what UNFCCC
      activities are underway or have been accomplished that are appropriate
      for the Executive Secretary to report on to those meetings. Those
      bodies can then take those into account and complete their
      negotiations ultimately successfully on their text there.

      New York Times: I wanted to go back to the issue of post-2012
      goals. Dr. Watson, you made reference to the February 2002 speech by
      President Bush in which he said that within 10 years the U.S. would
      reassess its position. So, I have two questions that flow from that.
      Why not, even in an informal fashion, discuss now some of those
      issues, post-2012 issues and plan ahead? That's the first question.
      Secondly, if not now, when?

      Dr. Watson: 'Why not?' Because we are still implementing the
      President's program and we want to be informed by the results. The
      President said the current U.S. plan is to review the results of that
      in 2012. And, 'if not [now], when?' Well, again, 2012 is when the U.S.
      has to reassess its current program. Obviously, we will be informed
      along the way by science and make adjustments as needed. But we do not
      intend to change our overall approach.

      BBC: In the session yesterday, the opening session, this is Joke
      Waller Hunter when she was speaking about the future and after 2012
      about the possibility of different rules and different speeds. Did you
      interpret that as an opening towards the United States' willingness to
      discuss different ways of doing things?

      Dr. Watson: Listening carefully and reading her comments, I think
      she put that more as a hypothetical and certainly something that needs
      to be on the table - different approaches and so on. And, particularly
      if you have the desire to bring in developing countries more into the
      process than they currently are, there will have to be different
      approaches because expecting developing countries, whose focus is on
      poverty reduction, to agree to targets and timetables that might
      impede that desire to reduce poverty in their countries is just not
      going to be something that is agreeable to them.

      Thank you. [End]

      Released on December 8, 2004


      --- End forwarded message ---

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