I’m copying below the full statement of Acting Ambassador Alejandro Wolff to the Security Council on climate change as a security risk.
The foundational elements of Wolff’s statement are not new, but their inanity never ceases to make my jaw drop. They are usually repeated loyally by Harlan Watson, the chief U.S. negotiator at the UN Framework Conventoin on Climate Change who is currently serving at the request of oil giants. I’ve become used to hearing Watson make some of the more outrageous arguments, but hearing a respected, serious diplomat like Wolff promote them on the world’s most prominent diplomatic stage is a step up (er, down) from the usual.
Here’s an example of the outrageous arguments: at the Foreign Service Institute, young Foreign Service Officers in training learn to avoid discussing the levels or growth rates of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, they are instructed to discuss U.S. “greenhouse gas intensity,” the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions to economic output (GDP) – as if somehow the ice caps melt less quickly because they know our economy is growing.
If one could quantify the economic cost of each ton of greenhouse gas emissions and factor it into our economic figures, “greenhouse gas intensity” might be a useful indicator. Since we don’t currently do that, the next president needs to remove the term from our diplomatic lexicon immediately. It’s insulting to the people who will suffer most from global warming and makes a mockery of economic and scientific principles at the same time.
What’s generally offensive about Wolff’s statement is its implication that the U.S. takes global warming seriously and is leading the effort to curb it, even as the Bush administration tries to undermine scientific consensus internationally and silences its experts domestically.
The security implications of climate change have gotten a lot of play recently. I won’t weigh in just yet except to say that I think they are considerable. For now, the spotlight remains on Wolff’s if-it-weren’t-so-awful-it-would-be-laughable statement, which can be found below the fold.
— Scott Paul
USUN PRESS RELEASE # 087(07) April 17, 2007
Remarks by Ambassador Alejandro D. Wolff, Acting U.S. Permanent Representative, in the UN Security Council Open Debate on Energy, Security and Climate, April 17, 2007
Climate change clearly presents serious challenges.
Under the able presidency of the United Kingdom in Gleneagles two years ago, G8 leaders emphasized that energy security, climate change and sustainable development are fundamentally linked.
In consultation with our developing country partners, G8 leaders committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the global environment, and enhance energy security in ways that promote human development.
To achieve these goals, the United States is pursuing a wide range of activities and programs. For example:
We are working with Brazil to advance biofuels.
We facilitated an agreement with China to install the largest coalmine methane power facility in the world.
Through the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate, we are expanding investment and trade in cleaner energy technologies.
We are leading global efforts for the commercial deployment of near-zero-emissions coal technology through $1.65 billion in tax credits.
The U.S. Energy Policy Act authorizes $5 billion over five years in tax incentives to encourage private investments in energy efficiency and alternative renewable energy.
We dedicate about $180 million a year to promote adaptation to climate variability and change and to other climate change priority areas in developing countries.
At home, we are on track to meet our goal of reducing our economy’s greenhouse gas intensity by 18% from 2002 to 2012.
U.S. Greenhouse gas emissions increased only .6% between 2004 and 2005, compared with a 1% increase over the 1990-2005 period.
We have invested some $35 billion in climate-related science and technology since 2001, including over $17 billion in energy technologies.
Internationally, climate and energy issues are being actively addressed through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and other venues with appropriate mandates.
The Bush Administration has pledged $500 million to the Global Environmental Facility over the next four years. This is the largest contribution of any country, to help developing countries address these problems.
These efforts matter – including because a lack of energy security can exacerbate economic and political problems.
The most effective way to bolster security and stability is to increase the capacity of states to govern effectively. States that govern effectively can better anticipate and manage change and the challenges that come with change.
Successful development strategies focus on education, rule of law, human freedom and economic opportunity. The international community joined together in recognizing this at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002.
Well-governed countries grow and prosper. Economic growth provides the resources, in both developed and developing countries, to address energy and environmental challenges, including challenges associated with climate change.
Madame President, the United States has a long history of extending a helping hand so that people can live in democratic societies with robust economies and strong and stable governance. We intend to continue that support, working with freedom-loving people everywhere to face the future constructively with confidence and determination.