Press Briefing by James Connaughton, Chairman of the Council on Environmental QualityJuly 7, 2008 at 8:04 am | Posted in Climate change, Environment, G8, Global warming, United States | 1 Comment
Tags: Climate change, Connaughton, Environment, G8, G8 summit, On-the-record, Press briefing, United States
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 7, 2008
Press Briefing by James Connaughton, Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality
1:24 P.M. (Local)
MR. JOHNDROE: Good afternoon. This is an on-the-record, off-camera briefing on the G8 meeting, in particular the climate discussions. Joining you today is Jim Connaughton, the Chairman of the President’s Council on Environmental Quality.
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Good afternoon, everybody. I wanted to do a couple things. We will be having the G8 — one of the sessions, as you know, will be talking about energy security and climate change. And then on Wednesday, the major economies leaders will be meeting to talk about energy security and climate change. And so as an expansion of the briefing you got from Dan Price the other day, I thought I’d just give you background as to what will be discussed in each session and how they interrelate, and then talk to you a little bit about the sort of different groupings of countries in this discussion by way of further context. And then as we look forward to next year — next year is when the international agreement we hope will be concluded, and so I’m going to connect up these two conversations with the broader effort. So I hope I can do that and try not to get too much in the weeds.
First, in the G8 discussion, as you know, I think with one exception, climate change has been a main topic of the G8 for the last six or seven years. The fullest expression by the G8 about climate change was found in the Gleneagles summit, hosted by Tony Blair, and then a series of G8 efforts flowing from that have taken place.
There was something called the Gleneagles dialogue that — where the G8 hosted 20 countries, just to begin to get informal discussions going about climate change and energy security. And then we had the Heiligendamm summit last year, that began to articulate in greater detail the sense of forward motion the G8 was looking for from the international process.
At the time of Heiligendamm, the President announced the idea of more formally engaging the major economies, and as you know, he earned the G8 endorsement of that idea — but more than just the G8 endorsement of that idea last year, very quickly the major economies leaders agreed they would participate in that effort. And that was a major political step forward, to actually recognize the need for leaders’ representatives — which I’m the President’s leaders’ representative — to come together and see if the leaders of the major economies can begin to find common ground.
So it’s against that backdrop that we have this meeting. And I guess one more piece of the backdrop is the Bali Action Plan that was announced in Indonesia last year, and that was sort of the framework for the negotiations going forward, many components of which grew out of what occurred in Heiligendamm and grew out of our initial discussions at the leader representative level among the major economies. So I just want to connect these pieces for you.
So what will be the main topics of conversation in the G8 meeting? So the G8’s primary focus will be on the things the G8 itself can and should be doing. The main areas relate to the President’s proposal, supported by the U.K. and Japan, for a new clean energy technology fund. So that has been an ongoing discussion. Secretary Paulson was charged with advancing that for the United States. They made very good progress on that at the G7 finance ministers meeting, and then we had a big donors conference just a few weeks ago that had a couple dozen countries participating in it. So that is headed in the right direction. We’re hopeful for a good outcome on the clean energy technology fund from the G8 meeting.
Second, the G8 tasked itself with doing some work with the International Energy Agency on what the G8 countries individually can do in the area of energy efficiency and conservation. Obviously, energy efficiency and conservation are important things that we can do immediately, and with the currently high cost of energy, the impetus for further conservation and energy efficiency measures is even greater now than it has been in years past. So look as an outcome from this discussion for the G8 itself taking on board a set of activities related to energy efficiency and conservation. And we’ll have more detail on that as the leaders come together and decide what they’ll do.
A third component of the climate discussion will be about the G8’s own reflections about the discussions that will take place over the next 18 months leading toward an international agreement on climate change by the end of next year. And so the G8 leaders will have their own take on that, and then that will be sort of in support of, or complementary to, the meeting that will occur the next day with the other major economy leaders.
So those will be the main components of the G8 piece; they’re G8 specific. And then what we tried to do in the major economies process is deal with a set of issues that is common to all of the major economy leaders. And those fall into three basic categories: Long term, what kind of long-term vision can we begin to get some political direction on; midterm, what can we accomplish, where can we take the negotiations with respect to midterm commitments by each of the major economies. And by midterm, I’m speaking of the 2020 to 2030 time frame. And then what are the steps that we can move forward with immediately, so the near-term actions, in fulfillment of our current obligations under the Framework Convention on Climate Change, or under the Kyoto Protocol. There are a number of things that we significantly scale up our efforts on in the near term to fulfill those existing obligations.
So let me talk about each, then, in turn. On long term, as you know, the G8 indicated a desire last year to give serious consideration to cutting emissions in half by 2050. That is a ongoing topic within the G8, but as importantly, or perhaps more importantly, it’s a topic that has consumed a lot of time in the major economies discussions. Now, the long-term goal, as it’s called — in the Bali Action Plan, we’re aiming toward a shared vision with a long-term goal — is something that the international community already agrees has to be arrived at collectively. It’s something that all of the participants in the U.N. process will share. So while the G8 can reflect upon it, and the major economies can begin to provide some insight as to where we might want to take that, ultimately it’s pointing toward agreement by all of the countries. So this is — we’re dealing with a series of steps here on the long-term goal.
There is also a discussion in the context of the long-term goal about qualitatively how we look at this, what does it mean to achieve deep cuts in emissions within the long-term period. And so you’ll see some discussion related to that, in particular to focus on technology needs.
With respect to the midterm, the U.S. has made clear
— and I’ll make it clear again today — that we are prepared to take on binding international commitments for the midterm in a new international agreement. Each of the G8 countries has voiced that intention, that they intend to take on internationally binding commitments in a new agreement. And then I think I can represent that Australia and Mexico have also stated that publicly. And so, with respect to half of the major economies, their leaders have already expressed an intention to take on internationally binding commitments.
The nature and content of commitments by the other countries has been a topic of some discussion, and so you can expect the leaders to be talking about that during the major economies meeting. And there’s — one question is the form of these commitments, and so in the major economies process they’ll be talking about the willingness of a number of the major emerging economies to take on board midterm actions and translate that in a meaningful way into part of the international agreement, as well as the understanding of the need for — and reflection on the need for differentiation, which has been very important to the major emerging economies.
Obviously, their trajectory, the content of what they’re going to do will be on a different curve than the content of what the major developed countries are able to achieve. And so we’ll be discussing that, the leaders will be talking about that. And so the midterm both has the — again, has these two elements that relate to the form of the commitment and how we can share the form of the commitment and the legally binding nature of that, and then what — give a sense, a political sense of how to address the issue of differentiation.
Now, the third piece, which has not been reflected upon in my perspective nearly enough is the set of early actions. And the reason I think that this third piece is important is because the third piece is the most real and the most immediate, and will provide the foundation for later quantitative commitments in the midterm, and provide the foundation for an understanding of what we can achieve in the long term. So I hope, as the conversation unfolds both in the G8, but even more importantly, in the major economies discussion, I hope you will see, and we’re hopeful for a good outcome of a series of commitments in the near term from all of the participants — and in fact, a lot of common ground and, as our conversations have evolved, a lot of content, a lot more than we started with.
Now, what do we mean by “near term”? The President, himself, has put an emphasis on the need to eliminate tariffs on clear energy technologies. This is an active item of discussion within the Doha Round of negotiations. It is a piece of the discussion that has been completely overlooked, and yet it offers one of the biggest opportunities to expand and enable technology transfer from the developed world to the developing world.
As it happens, the developing world has some of the highest tariffs on clean energy technologies that are an impediment to their delivery. That also applies to clean energy services. It is very ironic that the developed countries have very low tariffs vis-a-vis each other, and therefore, the trade in clean energy technologies between America and Japan, and Japan and Europe is much greater than between all of us and the developing world. And we could set that to rights in the elimination of tariffs on these technologies and services.
Other items include technology cooperation. And we have distilled — and I hope you’ll see in the leaders declaration a focus on some of the critical priorities for technology development and deployment. I don’t know exactly how it’s going to come out, but I’ll give you our sense — so this is the U.S. sense of the key priorities. Most of the future increase in emissions is going to come from the use of coal to provide electricity. And so we hope to see a strong focus on technology development to produce power from coal with low carbon emissions. And on our way to doing that, how do we produce power from coal much more efficiently? We have good experience in the Asia Pacific region with this issue through cooperative partnerships, and we hope to expand that among the major economies.
Secondly, the second biggest contributor now and into the future will be the use of petroleum to power vehicles. And primarily, it’s personal vehicle use. A lot of attention is out there on aviation and maritime emissions, but the reality is the biggest slug of emissions now and into the future is personal vehicles. And so, how do we get more biofuel into vehicles, and how do we use electricity more in vehicles? And it’s not one or the other; you need a lot of both if we want to displace petroleum use. And so, hopefully, we’ll have a priority there.
And then finally, land use and forestry, particularly deforestation is the next largest contributor to current and future emissions. This is something that can be attacked very aggressively in real time, because in the developed world we already engage substantially in sustainable land use practices. The U.S., for example, is a major net sink absorber of CO2 because of our land management practices. And this can be replicated globally; it just requires a lot of effort, but it does not require new technology, it requires just good practices. So we hope that there will be an emphasis on those areas.
Finally, as part of this early action process, we have been pushing, and we think we’ve made good progress, so hopefully the declaration will reflect this, on the need for common systems of measurement. A breakthrough in Bali was that the major developing countries agreed that they would establish national programs that will be subject to measurement verification and reporting. Now we need to have the capacity and the — actually, the accounting methods that are in common. The discipline of greenhouse gas accounting is still an evolving one; it is not nearly of the caliper that we use in the financial system, for example. And we need to understand that a ton reduced in China is the same ton as a ton reduced in Japan, as a ton reduced in America. Right now in a number of areas, we don’t have that confidence. So hopefully, we can get the effort going on measurement so that we can compare the success of our various policy measures.
So let me do one final comment in terms of configurations of countries. One of the evolving questions is the status of countries like Mexico which is now OECD, and South Korea which is now OECD. Neither of those countries has obligations under the Kyoto system. Also Australia and Indonesia are very large economies — key members — but they typically have not been included in the G8 or the G8-plus-5 discussions, so it’s been important to have them on board. And you have sort of a major developed country like Australia, and a major developing country like Indonesia whose main issue is land use practices, so they have provided a very important counterbalance to the discussion that has helped facilitate progress, as well.
Finally, China — China is a major economic powerhouse today. China’s emissions, by recent scientific accounts, now exceed those of the U.S., and that is a trend that will only continue. And we have to understand the development path of a country as big as China and the opportunity for China to pick up on new technologies in cooperation with us as a central feature of any future discussion. And the linkages between, in particular, the U.S. and China, given the similarity of our energy portfolios, is something that we hope to build on constructively.
So I’ve given you a lot, I know, but I just want to give you the shape and how some of these pieces will fit together. And I look forward to your questions.
Q What is the likely language going to be on the 50-by-’50? Are you expecting something like a pledge to at least cut emissions by that amount? Or what kind of wording should we expect?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: I think you should expect the wording that the leaders tell us. So let me give you this context for that. The G8, itself, has already indicated that they’re going to give serious consideration to this. And so really the context is a relationship between the G8 focus on that and where the other countries come out on that. And we’ve had a wide variety of views in the major economies’ discussions.
So I don’t want to speak for any individual country, but Australia and Indonesia and Mexico have one line of thinking; the G5 have different perspectives on that. So we’re trying to get a step beyond sort of a political commitment at the leaders level toward a very significant commitment on long-term goal. I think you’ll see something very strong in terms of the qualitative shared vision on long-term goal, and then in terms of the numbers, we’ll just have to see how that comes out at the G8 and at the major economies.
Q But from the U.S. perspective, what kind of language would you like to see in the G8 statement on climate?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Well, the President has made clear that we believe a long-term goal is useful and necessary. The President has also made clear that it’s a goal that must be shared by all countries. So we are trying to play a constructive role in bridging the proposals on the table with some of the questions and issues that have been raised by other countries about different levels of ambition, including 50-by-’50.
We have indicated already that we will give serious consideration to 50-by-’50. A number of countries have suggested other scenarios, and the IPCC — which is the scientific assessment body of the U.N. — has given over a hundred scenarios for the long term, some of which are quite ambitious, some of which are not. And so that’s been the heart of our discussion, trying to understand these different scenarios. So, while 50-by-’50 is one scenario
— and by the way, has different baselines — I don’t want to get too far in the weeds here, but what’s your baseline? Do you go back to 1990? Do you go back to pre-industrial? Do you go current levels? There’s been a lot of discussion around baseline; it’s been very difficult to reconcile.
Q Are you suggesting that 50-by-’50 will not be included in the statement?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: I don’t want to — I’m just giving you a sense of the conversation. So I don’t want to give you an indication one way or the other, other than you know where the G8 stands, and the G8 have made a strong statement already, and I think the G8 will continue to have a shared view on that as we go forward.
Q Will it be a stronger statement that what was made in Heiligendamm?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: I don’t want to comment on that.
Q Just to follow up on Toby, the Chinese are apparently floating some kind of plan in which they would agree for the first time to long-term targets in exchange for the United States agreeing to a short-term target — or a midterm target by 2020. What can you tell us about that plan? Is that part of the negotiations, part of the discussion? What have the Chinese proposed?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Well, as I indicated actually, the G8 countries each have made very clear that they’re prepared to take on legally binding midterm goals, so that’s been out there. And as indicated, Mexico has now said that, at the time of the North American Leaders Declaration. So that conceptually is already on the table. And really our focus has been, what’s the nature of commitments from the other countries.
In terms of what the U.S. can achieve in the midterm, the President announced in April the goal that he thought was realistic and achievable, and a number of other countries — the EU in particular, and Canada — have now described their midterm goals. I’m not aware of any other country, including other G8 countries, who have announced what their midterm goals might be yet. So that will all be part of the discussion. None of that will get decided until the end of next year.
Q Are the developing countries insisting on something from the United States and the other developed countries?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Well, the developing countries made clear all along that they want to see a continuation of legally binding commitments by the developed countries. And as I indicated, we’ve already made that clear, including the U.S. So for us, the question really is, what’s the nature and meaningfulness of the commitment by the developing countries. And we’ll have to see — again, we’ll see how that unfolds on Wednesday.
Q The President said yesterday that he believes that this summit will be a successful summit. A successful summit for Prime Minister Fukuda would be an agreement on 50-by-’50. Would you agree with that vision? And if not, what would be a successful summit for the U.S. in terms of global climate change?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Well, having participated in both the G8 discussions and the major economies discussions, I believe you’ll see strong progress in both arenas on this range of issues that I described for you. The reason why I wanted to give you context — a lot of specific outcomes will not occur until the end of next year in the context of the U.N. negotiations. So we can’t prejudge those in either of these settings. But the building blocks toward those kinds of commitments I think you’ll see significant progress in both fora.
I have been — perhaps I should emphasize in particular in the MEM, a few areas that have not received sufficient leader-level attention. One of them is the issue of forestry. Another is the very important emerging issue on adaptation, and I think you’ll see a very strong leaders statement related to that that has not been made before. Again, I’m hopeful that that’s the outcome. And then some of the technology cooperation and sectoral approaches, which is something that had not been on the broader international agenda, although it’s clearly one that the U.S. and Japan had shared.
So I think there’s some very specific elements on which the leaders will speak for the first time. Now, I just also need to underline, this will be the first time the leaders of the major economies have assembled to discuss at length climate change and energy issues. That has not occurred before. Ban Ki-moon had a session at the U.N. last year where each leader came and gave remarks, but there wasn’t full engagement among the leaders on some of these more challenging issues. That alone is a meaningful step. And by the way it didn’t occur in the run-up to Kyoto. This is — so this will be the first time the leaders have really engaged in this configuration. And that all by itself will give important impetus for next year.
So I would not gauge the outcome of this on any particular item, and again I want to underline, Japan has been instrumental at pushing the 50-by-’50 concept. Japan has earned the strong recognition of that from the G8, and we are trying to advance that with other countries. So that remains an active topic of discussion. And so I think Japan has held that on the agenda, and that’s good. That’s a good thing.
Q Do you anticipate that the statement by the G8 will say that the G8 countries will take the lead or some formulation like that in achieving legally binding, meaningful reductions in the 2020 to 2030 time frame?
MR. CONNAUGHTON: The issue of taking the lead is one that the developed countries currently have a strong commitment to in the context of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which sets forth that principle as to developed countries. One of the questions now with the joint leadership of the major economies is the extent to which other countries will join in leadership. And so that’s what I’d be looking for if I were you, because the G8 leaders have already made that kind of a statement in the past and they continue to support leadership by the G8.
Q Can I follow up on that?
MR. CONNAUGHTON: Please.
Q I thought that the administration was looking for all of the major economies to join in that kind of undertaking, but it sounds like now you’re talking about a process that might involve differentiation of responsibilities.
MR. CONNAUGHTON: No, in terms of leadership, that in the past have focused exclusively on the relatively small number of large developed countries. We have already seen from a number of the major emerging economies — Mexico being the most notable — that their leader has already made clear that he intends for Mexico to be part of the leadership agenda. And so that concept has been a topic of discussion among us, and so let’s see how that comes out on Wednesday.
But that — one of the issues is that — I want to be clear: There’s leadership and then there’s relative levels of effort, and both are important concepts. The growth trajectory of countries like China and India is clearly different from Europe or Canada. And so as we talk about the setting of realistic goals into the future, we have to understand the different starting points of different countries.
But we do that in international treaties all the time. This is not a new idea; this is — we did it in the Montreal Protocol. I can give you any of a number of other examples. However, in each of these examples, the main contributors to the issue in question have all played meaningful roles in addressing their own — their relative contributions. So we hope to make political progress on that point.
Q You just said you can’t prejudge next year, but in June after the EU-U.S. summit, President said we can an agreement on climate change during his presidency. Could you clarify what did he mean when he said “an agreement”? And would — do you think his expectation was a little bit premature?
MR. CONNAUGHTON: There’s an important context for those statements. Each year we have achieved agreement on climate change in the context of the G8 on the relevant subjects in front of the G8. And so that’s step one. Step two, can we reach agreement with the major economies leaders on some key elements of the future negotiations? That’s the second piece. And then three, ultimate agreement is going to occur among all the parties to the U.N. at the end of next year. What we are trying to do at the major economies process is to provide leader-level political impetus to the ultimate outcomes next year.
So for example, as I indicated, there are a number of subject areas where the leaders can reach agreement on recommendations for the U.N. process — for example on financing, and on technology cooperation, on adaptation. So I think you will — and we’re hopeful for a nice, sort of shared expression by the leaders on that.
In terms of specific national midterm goals, as I indicated only three entities — the EU, Canada, and the U.S. — have publicly declared what their national midterms goals will be. Other countries — no other countries that I’m aware of — so correct me if I’m wrong
— has announced that yet. Many of them have stated intention to do so. For example, Japan has said they will do early next year; Australia said they’ll do so early next year — so, well in advance of the final outcome of the U.N. — but each country is deciding for itself when it will be ready to declare a specific quantitative midterm goal.
So that’s an example. There won’t be agreement on that now, but there was never expected to be. No one had suggested that each country would be declaring its midterm goals by this point in time. What we really want is an agreed vision of the shape of those midterm commitments. And again, we’ll see what happens on Wednesday with respect to that.
In the back.
Q The leaders of the EU and some of the NGOs are saying that anything less than a commitment here to 50 percent by 2050 or at least 50 percent by 2050 would be backsliding and — backsliding from last year. Is that true or what do you think about that? And also, the OMB is reportedly sitting on EPA’s plan to control greenhouse gases from automobiles and supposedly, reportedly, is watering it down. And if that is true — is that true? And what does that say to the conference here?
MR. CONNAUGHTON: On the first question, as I indicated, I think you’ll see — I think we’ll see broad progress across the board on the major categories that I outlined for you. So let’s see what comes out. I also want to be careful. The NGO community is not monolithic in their different interests. Many NGOs I’ve been working with have been very focused on the near-term actions, especially the sectoral approaches and the financing issues, and then the development of midterm goals.
So as you talk to different entities, I think it’s important to understand that different groups have different areas of focus — the long-term goal being one important area, and President Bush has agreed with that. But the practical outcomes of the midterm strategies and the very practical and real outcomes of our near-term actions are the most tangible things that we’ll be discussing right now. So please do not overlook those elements of this discussion — again, a number of items of which the major economies leaders have never discussed before, and they’ll be providing impetus on for the first time. And that’s very important.
As the EPA rule, it is — they’re in a preliminary process on what’s called an advance notice of proposed rulemaking. The EPA does not have a proposed rulemaking yet. They are in the process of making initial inquiry. That document is before OMB in the traditional interagency review process, and I would not represent the outcome of that one way or the other until it occurs. This is the way we do review of agency documents, but also please understand we’re at the preliminary step that precedes a formal proposal for rulemaking, which will come later. So we are talking about an inquiry document; you are not talking about specific proposals.
But I want to go specifically to what do other countries, what will other countries think. It remains the case that, issue by issue, the United States now has in law mandates, incentives, and budgets for partnerships that are on par with or far exceed the level of efforts by any other country.
And so when you ask what should countries think — well, we are pleased to come to this G8 with the most aggressive renewable mandate of any country in the world, seeking to displace 15 percent of our gasoline use with renewable fuels. We are coming to the table with one of the strongest fuel economy mandates. In fact, America has the fuel economy mandates. Europe — most countries in Europe do not yet; they’re looking at them. And there we seek to displace 5 percent of our fuel consumption through new vehicle fuel efficiency. Our new lighting efficiency mandate is on par with or exceeds those of any other country, and only a couple countries are currently developing them right now. And if you add up the mandates that our states have in place on renewable power, they exceed those of most countries.
So — and then on top of that, no country spends like the U.S. is spending on technology development and technology deployment. The President has indicated in his remarks that he’s actually coming to the G8, strongly encouraging other leaders, including major economy leaders, to increase their investment in technology, research and development, and to increase their public investments in the deployment of new low-carbon technologies.
The U.S. is bringing to that table more than $4 billion annually in technology, research and development spending in the clean energy space. We are bringing to the table this year $42.5 billion of publicly backed loan guarantees to actually get these technologies into the marketplace at commercial scale. And we have invited other countries with similar portfolios to us to make that kind of a public commitment. We’ll see what happens with respect to that, too. Watch for that in the G8 and watch for that in the major economies process.
Q The term “clean energy,” as you used it in that context, does this include nuclear energy, as well? Or is that an extra topic and maybe an extra conflict in the G8?
MR. CONNAUGHTON: When you speak of power generation being the most important area for reducing carbon emissions, the — finding carbon and capture solutions for coal is one piece of the answer. A significant scale-up of nuclear energy is another part of the answer. And a move from relatively small-scale renewables to what we call gigawatt-scale renewables — these are huge renewable power development — is a third part of the solution.
There is no question, and the IPCC has made this clear in its assessments, that nuclear energy, responsibly developed by countries capable of managing it, is an essential component of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. And so I actually use that as a litmus test for seriousness on climate change. A country that has the capability to responsibly use nuclear energy in my view has a responsibility to do so, if we want to get serious about not just cutting greenhouse gas emissions, but also improving public health through reduced air pollution.
Q So then — one more question — does that mean that Germany now is not serious in fighting climate change?
MR. CONNAUGHTON: I’ve given my views on — any country that has the capacity and capability of using nuclear if you want to make — achieve deep cuts in emissions should use it. I will give you the example. We have to — in order to — let’s use the idea of cutting emissions in half. In order to cut emissions in half, if you take the trajectory of countries today, you’re talking about avoiding more than what’s called 30 gigatons of emissions — gigatons. These are billions of tons of emissions that will otherwise go up through coal use and other fossil fuel use.
Well, let me give you an example. Thirty gigatons is what we have to try to cut or more. Well, one gigaton reduced is 136 nuclear power plants. That’s one-third of the current number of nuclear power plants. Just to increase one gigaton, you need 136 new nuclear power plants. The globe is not on path to do that much today. And so what we really have to look forward to is a significant scale-up beyond that. And that’s just to get a couple gigatons reduced. We need to do the same with renewable power. We need several gigatons reduced renewable power, but that requires going from several tens of thousands of windmills globally to, you know, perhaps a couple of million.
And so we have to understand the scale of what we need to do if we’re serious about deep cuts. Efficiency will get us a piece of it, but even if efficiency gets us 20 to 30 percent — efficiency and conservation — well, that still leaves 70 percent. So you still have to find carbon capture and storage solution, or these zero-emission solutions like nuclear power if you want to make real progress.
MR. JOHNDROE: Last one.
MR. CONNAUGHTON: Last one.
Q If I may, just back on the question of the intermediate term targets, the 2020 to 2030 period — just following up on a couple of earlier questions. What is it exactly that you require from the major emerging economies in order to commit to binding economy-wide targets in the interim period on behalf of the U.S.? Is it — the word out there is that they’ll sign up for the 50 by 2050, providing you sign up and they don’t have to sign up to anything specific at the interim stage.
MR. CONNAUGHTON: First, speaking for the United States, we believe it is important that in order to achieve deep cuts in emissions requires actions by all of the major economies. It is unassailable math, and the IPCC has given us a number of scenarios that demonstrate that fact. So any international agreement in order to be effective will require quite significant action by each of the major emerging economies. So that’s step one.
Step two is the form of those commitments. The G8 countries have made clear they intend to set economy-wide goals, but these will be backed up by a substantial suite of national programs, and these programs include national mandates, national incentives, and then national technology advancement programs.
We are very encouraged that the leadership of each of the major emerging economies now have in place processes at their cabinet ministry level to develop those kinds of strategies for those — their own countries. And that had not occurred before. In fact, I think it is fair to say that this major economies process has been an important catalyst in those countries developing their own national strategies that we believe need to nationally accountable at least. And by that, the major emerging economies have made clear they intend for their programs to be measurable, reportable, and verifiable. So that’s an important component. And again, I’m hopeful that you’ll see important progress on Wednesday with respect to that.
Then finally, it’s the — how do those — how are those reflected in the agreed outcome by the end of next year. And that’s the third component of the discussion. And clearly for the United States to take on internationally binding commitments — I think one of the areas in which our political process is in — close to unanimity is the need for meaningful commitments in a new agreement by the major emerging economies, too. That should be no surprise to you. It’s been something the Democrats and Republicans are unified.
It’s also an essential feature of making the agreement effective, and this is the issue that’s called carbon leakage. It does you no good to put increasing constraints on your own economy if that merely shifts the producing activity to other countries that do not have — have not set reasonable and realistic goals, which means you get a net increase in emissions over there. And so it does you no good to ship your emissions from your country to another country. And that’s why we need a cooperative and constructive pathway forward.
I want to underline something here, though. The United States believes the path forward is through cooperation and constructive action based on realistically achievable goal. President Bush has also made very clear he does not believe a process based on punishment and a process based on trade sanctions is the appropriate international way forward. And so there have been who have suggested those approaches. We do not think that is the foundation of lasting progress.
Q If I could may just follow up very quickly. In terms of understanding this sort of common but differentiated type responsibility might mean, are you saying everybody would have to make the same — qualitatively the same kind of commitments at the interim stage, but in quantitative terms those could be different depending on the nature of the economies and so forth? Or are you saying that everybody could agree to a 2050 ambition with industrialized countries being more specific as to what they need to achieve in the interim stage?
MR. CONNAUGHTON: The former. The U.S. and a number of other leaders — and they’ll need to speak for themselves, but you can look it up — a number of other leaders in this process have made very clear that the form of the commitment in an agreed outcome next year should be similar for the major emerging economies, even as we respect the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, with respect to the content, the specific nature of those commitments.
And again, as I indicated to the other questioner, this is a time-bound practice in international agreements. Countries frequently have different schedules. Countries frequently have different quantitative objectives, but they are all reasonably aligned in their relative levels of ambition. And I think — and our view is, if each major economy is setting realistically achievable goals, we can accomplish much more together than if a handful of countries are striving to make commitments that they will not be capable of meeting.
So that’s the old way. We think the new way is all the major economies working together with realistic outcomes.
MR. JOHNDROE: Thank you.
MR. CONNAUGHTON: Thank you.
END 2:04 P.M. (Local)