Remarks to the Press at COP-19

Todd D. Stern
Special Envoy for Climate Change 
Washington, DC
November 18, 2013

I’d like to start by reiterating that the United States extends our thoughts and prayers to the people of the Philippines. Our humanitarian teams are on the ground and en route, working around the clock to save lives. The U.S. was the first to announce humanitarian assistance – $20 million – in addition to providing emergency food for 20,000 children and 15,000 adults.

The American people will continue to respond to events like these around the world. We take pride in helping in time of crisis. In 2013 alone, the U.S. provided $3.2 billion in humanitarian assistance.

President Obama and the full U.S. Government are hard at work domestically and internationally to help build momentum to solve our shared climate challenge.

On the home front:

  • President Obama recently announced our new climate action plan.
  • We have issued important draft regulations on carbon pollution from new power plants, and are hard at work developing regulations that will cover existing power plants as well.
  • President Obama previously issued landmark rules regarding vehicles. Fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks are going from 27 miles per gallon to over 54 miles per gallon, more than doubling over the space of about a dozen years. This is just a start in the transportation sector as more regulations are in the works for heavy-duty vehicles.
  • These are very large-scale efforts, with power and transportation accounting for about two-thirds of our total emissions.
  • We’re also aiming to double renewable energy (again) and ramping up even further our substantial energy efficiency efforts.
  • And we’re making good progress toward meeting our commitment of a 17 percent reduction of emissions from 2005 to 2020.

The United States is also ramping up our efforts on the international front:

  • Secretary Kerry announced last spring with his Chinese counterparts a renewed commitment to work together to tackle climate change. And we now have bilateral efforts with China on CCS, efficiency, smart grids, and heavy duty vehicles.
  • As agreed to by President Obama and President Xi in Sunnylands back in June, we have been working aggressively to phase-down HFCs, and hope all parties focused on more ambition join us and over 100 other countries supporting an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to take advantage of the 90 gigatons of available reduction possible here.
  • We not only met our fair share of the fast start finance commitment – $7.4 billion over the three year period, this year we increased our public climate finance to $2.7 billion, up from $2.3 billion last year.
  • We have also played a leadership role in meeting the challenge of mobilizing $100 billion annually by 2020. This year we convened other donor countries twice at the ministerial level to look at how we can use the various public finance channels at our disposal to unlock private investment in climate action.
  • Turning now to our work here in Warsaw – the U.S. has come to this Conference of the Parties to help build momentum to the critical effort to advance global action under the UNFCCC.
  • Warsaw is an essential meeting to enhance the momentum for greater collective actions by UNFCCC parties in the near term, and it is an essential meeting toward securing agreement in Paris in 2015.
  • This meeting can also provide momentum toward Paris by deepening understanding of the key priorities of different Parties for the new agreement, and can set us toward a path toward developing the draft elements of a negotiating text, which we will need to have in hand by the conclusion of next year’s conference in Lima.

Let me be crystal clear about what the U.S. is seeking. Our core objective for this process is to create an ambitious, durable, and effective agreement, one that will serve in organizing the nations of the world to successfully solve this great shared challenge.

We seek an agreement that can attract broad participation among Parties with differing national circumstances, that inspires Parties to put forward their best efforts, and that can stand the test of time and evolving circumstances.

We have had good discussions over the first week on range of issues under negotiations in this Conference, and by and large these discussions are progressing. There’s a good deal of work left for us this week in order to secure a successful set of outcomes for the Conference, including, in particular under the Durban Platform.

With that, I’d be happy to take your questions.