Made in the USA: Mr.Todd Stern talks up USA climate commitments & looks towards Paris 2015

During today’s High-Level Segment, Mr. Todd Stern, USA’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, presented USA’s position on the UNFCCC negotiations (see TBach’s previous post on Stern’s remarks in the HL ADP). Mr. Stern spoke about how the USA is leading the way on humanitarian relief efforts in the range of $30 million in humanitarian assistance for the Philippines [check this]. On the connection between climate change and Typhoon Haiyan, Mr. Stern spoke about how climate change impacts will have the potential to be fundamentally disruptive to the world we will leave to our children and grandchildren.

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Additionally, Mr. Stern remarked on how this past summer, President Obama released his Climate Action Plan to tackle climate change. Mitigation strategies include new draft regulations for carbon pollution for new power plants and working hard towards new regulations for old power plants. President Obama’s agenda includes stronger emission standards for vehicles and increasing fuel efficiency. Mr. Stern reminded the international community about the USA’s “large scale efforts” to reduce US carbon emissions by doubling renewable energy. The USA has pledged to reduce emissions by 17% 2005 levels by 2020. On the topic of Climate Finance, Mr. Stern said that in 2013, the US has contributed $2.7 billion for climate finance. The US has coordinated with other donor countries to coordinate strategies to meet the $100 billion goal for the Green Climate Fund.

Mr. Stern then discussed the international climate agreement for post 2020 agreement. The agreement should be designed to attract the participation of all countries and be differentiated across the broad range of evolving circumstances. Mr. Stern wants a “fully self-differentiated agreement” for COP21 in Paris 2015. Basically, Mr. Stern strongly noted that any new international agreement based on the UNFCCC’s 1990 categories “will not work.” The categories defining UNFCCC Parties’ commitments and obligations must evolve with changing circumstances. Mr. Stern offered three avenues for going forward with the new international agreement for 2015 – the categories can remain unchanged if not operational, create new categories that can evolve with changing circumstances, but “they cannot be both unchanged and operational.” In sum, Mr. Stern commented that in all areas there is a need for transparency and the domestic processes need to be ready now in order to make submissions to have a new agreement by Paris 2015.