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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Climate Change Is an Urgent Problem

Press Conference
Jonathan Pershing
Deputy Envoy for Climate Change 
UNFCCC Climate Change Talks
Bonn, Germany
June 12, 2009


Opening Remarks at U.S. Press Conference

Head of the U.S. Delegation Jonathan Pershing: I think it’s quite clear that the United States is committed to addressing the global problem of climate change and during these talks in Bonn our delegation was fully engaged in the negotiations.

I want to underscore one point we have sought to make during this session – and that I reiterated again in my final remarks earlier today in the session on “shared vision:” Climate change is an absolutely urgent problem. It needs a global and immediate response if we are to achieve a low-carbon future. We are working both domestically and in this forum as well as in others to achieve that outcome.

In Bonn, we were receptive to hearing proposals from others as well as proactive in seeking solutions for a path forward. In this context, we shared our own thinking – reflected in our own submission for an “Implementing Agreement.”

While this Bonn meeting provided the opportunity for all Parties to contribute their views to the process, progress not unexpectedly is slow at this point. There are gaps in concepts that remain unresolved. And why I say it’s not surprising; it’s going to take some time to get the views of 190 countries.

It’s important to keep in mind that the process to find the solution did not end here nor did we expect it to. It continues in the weeks and months leading to Copenhagen.

I would also note that we thought the discussions would be exactly at this stage coming in. They are where we expected them to be going out. We came with more than 70 different submissions from parties and we actually leave with a consolidated text that begins to provide a clear articulation of country’s views on the critical negotiating issues.

There were innumerable valuable conversations in the hallways, in the meeting rooms and they will continue in earnest in both the formal negotiating session and prior to that during the rest of the year. We have been very pleased with a number of our bilateral conversations which serve to increase our understanding of the views of others and we hope increased the understanding of others about our own positions.

We are working not only in this process toward a conclusion in Copenhagen but also in other processes in support of that conclusion. Perhaps most notably through a series of bilateral discussions as well as through the Major Economies Forum. The next meeting of the preparatory session of the Major Economies Forum will be held in Mexico and the leaders will meet in Italy.

The goal of the United States is to reach a climate change agreement in Copenhagen. To succeed in that goal, we believe that the series of negotiating sessions leading up to COP-15 must first establish a foundation of shared understanding among Parties. Building on that foundation necessitates an exchange of ideas and a clear view of our common objectives.

The Bonn talks that conclude today have moved us toward Copenhagen. While much more work remains to be done, we fortunately have more time. We will be back in Bonn in August to continue the effort.

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