U.S. Says Climate Change Warrants Real Commitment

MARRAKECH, Morocco, November 8, 2001 (ENS) - The Bush administration has come a long way from its position upon taking office in January that climate change might not be a serious concern. Yesterday, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky told climate negotiators meeting in Marrakech that global climate change warrants "real commitment."

In a statement delivered to the 7th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Dobriansky said the administration of President George W. Bush will "continue to play a leadership role" in addressing the long term challenge of climate change both at home and abroad.


Dr. Paula Dobriansky heads the U.S. delegation to the climate talks in Marrakech. (Photos courtesy IISD/ENB-Leila Mead )
At the Congress de Palais, delegates are working to a Friday night deadline to finalize the rulebook for the Kyoto Protocol, an addition to the UN climate change treaty that sets target limits of six greenhouse gases linked to global warming. Once the legally binding protocol is ratified, the limits would apply to 38 industrialized nations, but not to the United States which has opted out of the agreement.

The U.S. delegation led by Dobriansky is participating in the climate change talks, although the Bush administration has declared its opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, signed by the U.S. during the Clinton administration.

In March, shortly after taking office, President Bush said, "I oppose the Kyoto Protocol because it exempts 80 percent of the world, including major population centers such as China and India, from compliance, and would cause serious harm to the U.S. economy." The change of policy angered environmentalists around the world because the United States emits roughly one-quarter of all the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.


Dobriansky converses with Belgian Environment Minister Olivier Deleuze outside the Congress de Palais.
Still, Dobriansky told the delegates, the United States has pledged continued support for the UN climate change treaty, which calls on both developed and developing countries to adopt national programs for mitigating climate change and developing strategies for adapting to its impacts.

The United States wants to work with its friends, allies and major trading partners "to develop climate change partnerships, even though in some cases, we will pursue different paths toward the same destination," Dobriansky said.

"We will strengthen our strategic and energy alliances in a way that contributes to efforts to reduce the projected growth in global greenhouse gas emissions," Dobriansky said. The U.S. is seeking to ensure that its companies have access to innovative, cost saving technologies, including opportunities to forge international alliances.

"The United States has no intention of discouraging the work of other nations on the Kyoto Protocol," Dobriansky said, "but we will protect legitimate U.S. interests."