Melinda L. Kimble, Acting Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Fourth Session of the Conference of the Parties, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Plenary Statement of the United States of America, Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 2, 1998


"Plenary Statement of the United States of America"

Thank you, Mme. President.

We view this meeting as a significant step in efforts to advance
implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
(FCCC), consolidate our gains and to make concrete and
operational last year's Kyoto achievements.

The United States continues to make tremendous progress in our
fight against global warming. Since 1992, the United States has
put more than 50 national programs in place to address the
problem. In the last year, we have stepped up our own aggressive
domestic efforts. The U.S. federal budget for the coming year
includes a 25 percent increase in investments to combat climate
change -- in energy efficiency, renewable energy and R&D -- with
resources now totaling over $1 billion for Fiscal Year 1999.
These funds will go to a wide array of programs, including those
that will produce automobiles early in the next decade with
triple the gas mileage of today's cars, and that will make new
housing up to 50 percent more energy efficient. In addition, the
Administration announced its plan for a restructuring of the
nation's energy industry, which will increase efficiency, spur
renewable energy use and help cut emissions as well.

We continue to act internationally, as well. Our bilateral
climate assistance programs have met the goals for the first year
of President Clinton's five-year, $1 billion developing country
climate initiative, promoting transfer of technology, capacity
building and increased investment. This includes a strong focus
on cities and the role they play in reducing greenhouse gases, as
we heard this morning from Buenos Aires's own governor. And, due
to the President's strong commitment to protect the global
environment, we will be contributing nearly $193 million to
Global Environmental Facility (GEF), whose efforts go well beyond
climate change.

Kyoto was a genuine breakthrough. The entire international
community owes a debt of gratitude to Japan for their tireless
efforts last year in forging the Kyoto agreement. International
action was taken in response to a powerful scientific consensus.
Industrialized countries took on binding targets to cut their
aggregate emissions by 5.2% below 1990 levels by 2008-2012 --
real reductions with a realistic compliance period. Most
importantly, Kyoto also provided for market-based, flexibility
mechanisms -- emissions trading, the Clean Development Mechanism,
Joint Implementation -- to supplement domestic measures to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, offering powerful incentives necessary
to making cost-effective reductions worldwide to achieve agreed
targets.

We can protect the environment and grow our economies. The
domestic experience of the United States demonstrates that we do
not need large bureaucracies or overly intrusive regulation. The
trading system used in the U.S. domestic SO2 program to reduce
acid rain, for example, has achieved our environmental goals more
rapidly at less than 50 percent of initial cost estimates. We do
not underestimate the complexity of making Kyoto's provisions
operational or the need to build confidence that we can make them
work to the benefit of all. However, the urgency of the problem,
and our own confidence in the resourcefulness of the global
community gives us reason to expect success in this endeavor.

Over the last year, we have worked with all Parties to abate
increases in emissions, recognizing the need for sustained effort
on this problem, as well as the need to maintain employment and
create conditions for sustainable development. We particularly
realize how essential it is that developing countries take action
consistent with the full range of their environmental and
economic goals and the ultimate objective of the Convention. We
must all make more progress. Our discussions have become more
regular, substantive and detailed -- highlighting the benefits of
taking further action.

We recognize the substantial differences among developing
countries in terms of emissions profiles, levels of development,
capacity for effective action, and economic and political
conditions. We recognize their varying capacity to contribute to
the solution. We are working to convince them of the enormous
opportunities offered under the Kyoto Protocol -- as well as of
the benefits of taking on binding targets and other actions to
address climate change in terms of improved health, energy
efficiency and other benefits.

At Kyoto, we created the structure for international efforts to
address climate change. We hope that this meeting will create a
process for installing the interior plumbing and circuitry to
construct a Kyoto agreement that can stand the test of time. In
doing so, we have three primary goals:

-- First, we strongly support the agreement that was struck in
Kyoto. There, we joined others in taking on an emissions
reduction target. We did so with the clear understanding that we
would be able to use the flexible, market-based Kyoto mechanisms
without arbitrary restraints in order to meet our obligations
cost-effectively. The EU, in contrast, sought to balance the
burden of their member states through a differentiated burden
sharing arrangement. We believe this agreement must -- and will -
- hold because it is environmentally and economically sound.

-- Second, we want to move beyond our differences on the
flexibility mechanisms and concentrate on reaching agreement on
substantive implementation questions, and developing a work plan,
with clear timetables for elaborating the rules and modalities.
We must make it our goal to have the CDM up and running by the
year 2000. And, we must move forward with urgency to develop
appropriate mechanisms for measurement, reporting, verification
and compliance to create an emissions trading system with high
standards.

-- Third, we cannot solve the problem by Annex I actions alone.
We hope to discuss other opportunities in the Kyoto Protocol with
developing countries in a productive, open and frank manner and
look forward to working with all Parties to find a truly global
solution to the problem of climate change. President Clinton has
indicated that he will not submit the Kyoto Protocol for the U.S.
Senate's advice and consent to ratification without meaningful
participation by key developing countries. We look forward to
working with all countries to craft a solution to this problem.

These discussions may not have the glamour and novelty of Kyoto.
But they can advance the tough work needed to make Kyoto's
remarkable promise a reality. We hope to get beyond rhetoric and
ideology, and begin to shape the tools needed to get the job done
for the benefit of the global community. Thank you, Mme.
President.


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