U.S. Statement at COP17

Todd Stern
Special Envoy for Climate Change 
Durban, South Africa
December 8, 2011

As Prepared For Delivery

Thank you, Madam President. I am honored to be here representing the United States, and to support the President of the COP and the Government of South Africa in pursuit of a successful, balanced outcome here in Durban.

I also want to thank the South African Presidency for the enormous amount of work it has invested in this process over the past year, and to thank you in advance for the critical role that you will have to play over the next two days to help countries resolve the remaining open issues and secure a strong and credible outcome that builds on what we all agreed to just last year in Cancun.

There is, of course, important and difficult work remaining on both tracks of the Bali Roadmap. On the LCA side, the Cancun agreements were a major undertaking involving all Parties that included a set of balanced international decisions. We agreed to set up a Green Climate Fund, a Clean Technology Center and Network, and an Adaptation Committee, and to write the guidelines for a new regime of international transparency. These institutions should guide international climate action for a long time to come. So a critical part of Durban is to do the work necessary to start bringing these new arrangements to life. And just as we have done over the past two years, we must move on all these issues together, as a balanced package. That is the only basis on which we can move forward.

At home, the United States takes seriously the commitments first made by our Leaders in Copenhagen and reaffirmed in Cancun. We are making progress toward our target of reducing emissions in the range of 17 percent by 2020 through an array of domestic efforts, including robust new national fuel economy standards that will nearly double our automobile fleet efficiency by 2025 and the more than $90 billion of investments that we have made in clean energy. The New York Times recently quoted a well-known U.S. environmental leader saying President Obama’s recent decision to boost fuel efficiency to over 54 mpg “is the biggest single step that any nation has taken to cut global warming pollution.” The President has also proposed a new Clean Energy Standard in which 80% of our electricity would come from clean sources by 2035.

At the same time, we are providing important new international climate assistance. Our Fast Start Finance contribution for the first two years 2010 and 2011, amounts to some $5.1 billion, comprised of approximately $3.4 billion of Congressional appropriations and substantial development finance. We are also hard at work on developing the policies and mechanisms needed to mobilize combined public and private capital toward the donor goal of mobilizing $100 billion annually by 2020.

We also know that a central part of the discussion here in Durban has revolved around the linked issues of a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and the shape of a strong, credible, and comprehensive climate architecture for the future. These are tough issues, but the United States is committed to finding a workable solution.

As we embark on the final hours of negotiations, I want to urge all countries to seek the common ground needed to deliver a successful outcome and pave the way for robust action now and in the years to come.

Madam President, thank you very much.