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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Earth Day 2009: Greening Diplomacy

Todd Stern
Special Envoy for Climate Change 
Dean Acheson Auditorium
Washington, DC
April 22, 2009



Thank you, Under Secretary Kennedy.

Thank you all for coming, particularly our colleagues from the diplomatic corps.

And special thanks to Secretary Clinton for being here with us to celebrate Earth Day.

In the lead-up to Earth Day in 1996, Secretary of State Warren Christopher set out what at the time seemed an ambitious vision: “to put environmental issues where they belong: in the mainstream of American foreign policy.”

Thirteen years later, Secretary Christopher’s vision has taken hold. Thanks to Secretary Clinton, the environment – particularly the global climate change crisis – is front and center in U.S. diplomacy.

In Secretary Clinton’s words: “A world in crisis goes well beyond the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink. It is at once an environmental, economic, energy and national security issue with grave implications for America’s and the world’s future.”

There is no question anymore that the United States and the world must take urgent and bold action to combat climate change. The science is clear, and threat is real. There is also no question that the President and the Secretary of State are up for meeting this challenge. And, they are supported by a world-class team, many of whom are sitting in this Auditorium today or watching in our Embassies abroad.

The United States must lead on this issue, and we will. We have already taken bold action here at home and we will continue to develop a comprehensive climate and energy plan that will create millions of jobs and cut greenhouse gas emissions. While we are developing the necessary steps to combat climate change at home, we are also actively reaching out and listening to our partners abroad. The United Sates cannot solve the climate change crisis alone and this Administration is committed to charting a cooperative pathway to a low-carbon economy.

Secretary Clinton has a long history as a leader in the fight against climate change.

As a Senator, she championed increased investment in alternative energy technologies and helped pioneer new strategies for harnessing clean energy as an engine of economic growth. In New York she worked with public and private partners to create green jobs and support innovative projects. She helped develop the City of Rochester’s "green print," a first-in-the-nation urban plan for environmentally sustainable growth, alternative energy production, and job creation. She supported key investments to build cleaner engines for school buses and other heavy vehicles using technology developed in Corning, New York. And she fought for and passed legislation to create green jobs training programs and to push the federal government to install green building technologies.

In New York, in the Senate, and as she traveled all over our country, Secretary Clinton was a compelling advocate for charting a new clean energy future that strengthens both our environment and our economy.

And now, as our nation’s top diplomat, she has elevated climate and energy to the peak of U.S. foreign policy.

I saw this first-hand when I joined Secretary Clinton on her inaugural trip to China, Japan, Indonesia, and South Korea. There, in meetings with Presidents and Prime Ministers, with Foreign Ministers and business groups, and with students and non-governmental organizations, climate change was a critical part of the agenda.

As a nation and as a world community, we have the opportunity and the challenge to make history. With the leadership of President Obama and that of Secretary Clinton I am confident we will rise to that challenge. Today, it is my privilege and it is my pleasure to introduce one of these distinguished leaders.

Ladies and gentleman, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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