We have an obligation to carry on and build upon their legacy. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the significant environmental challenges of our generation -- particularly climate change. But the lesson to be drawn from the pioneers of Earth Day is that these challenges are surmountable through commitment, perseverance and public and private partnership. Let me give you some examples of how the United States is carrying forward this legacy in our work overseas and within the Department.Human-induced climate change is perhaps the greatest environmental challenge of our generation, and we are committed to tackling this problem head-on. Under President Obama, the U.S. has done more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than ever before, both by supporting domestic policies that advance clean energy and address climate change and by vigorously engaging in international climate negotiations. In the past 15 months, the U.S. has invested over $80 billion in clean energy, instituted historic new vehicle efficiency standards, and boosted efficiency standards for appliances like refrigerators and microwaves. In October, President Obama signed an Executive Order on Federal Sustainability to reduce the Federal Government's carbon footprint. We in the State Department have pledged to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020.
The Arctic is another high priority. As environmental changes in this region open new areas to human activities, such as transportation, resource exploitation, and fishing, we are committed to ensuring that those activities are conducted in a way that protects the fragile Arctic environment.
I should note that 2010 is not only the 40th year that we have celebrated Earth Day, it's also the “International Year of Biodiversity”, and many events throughout the year will offer an opportunity to take stock of our progress and the considerable challenges that lie ahead.Since 2002, when the global community made it a goal to significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss, we’ve seen a great expansion and strengthening of protected areas across the world, decreases in deforestation rates in some key countries like Brazil and Indonesia, and a growing appreciation for the role of coral reefs, forests, and other natural ecosystems in supporting food security, maintaining freshwater supplies, and combating and adapting to climate change.
As the Secretary just mentioned, the Department is pleased to partner with the Earth Day Network and our diplomatic colleagues in D.C in launching the D.C. Greening Embassy Forum. The aim of the forum is to share best practices on sustainable operations and to highlight the Diplomatic missions’ collective greening activities. Ambassador Lintu from the Embassy of Finland will speak shortly about this.
As we all know, the challenges before us are daunting. We face rising waters where we don't want them and droughts where we do; plants, animals and fish vanishing from the face of the Earth forever; and desertification turning farmland into dust while hundreds of millions of people go to bed hungry each night.Yet, we know from the pioneers of Earth Day that we -- nations and individuals -- can chart a new course. We must build a legacy for the next generation just as these far-sighted men and women did for us. Thank you.