Annual Reception for Donors to the Diplomatic Reception Rooms
RemarksHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateWashington, DCApril 30, 2009
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Marcee. Well, it is a pleasure to welcome all of you here. And I want to thank Marcee, who has done a wonderful job. Her enthusiasm and dedication to this collection is palpable. And I think if you haven’t had a tour led by Marcee, you’re missing a real treat. I want to also – (applause) – thank her staff and all the tour guides and the docents who are here sharing these beautiful objects with the public – 40,000 visitors a year. And it really does just make me so proud that we’re able to share this with the public.
I want to thank the Fine Arts Committee at the Department of State and the Fund for the Endowment of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms. I also want to thank a fellow cabinet member, the Secretary of Agriculture and his wife, Tom and Christie Vilsack who are here. Thank you for coming, Tom. (Applause.)
As we were doing the receiving line, a couple of you said that you’ve been doing this since Clem Conger enlisted you. (Laughter.) Once in, never out. And he is rightly revered as a legend for what he was able to accomplish in these rooms. But the ongoing commitment by so many of you plus the dedicated staff has been equally important.
To be sure that we continue to recognize and respect what it is that these rooms symbolize, I love telling our guests from around the world about each one named for a giant in American history. Every time I set foot in these rooms, I am very proud that we can conduct our diplomacy against such a stunning backdrop of American art and architecture. And we also use these rooms to introduce visitors to the breadth of our history and the scope and variety of the American landscape, from Niagara Falls to the mountains of Yellowstone, to Plymouth Rock, and one of our most recent gifts, the Thomas Cole landscape, that captures the mood and style of our nation in the 19th century.
So as you study each of these fabulous objects, I hope you will share the great joy that I feel in being able to work in this building. It was so touching for me to be here and be able to walk through these rooms and to know that others had come before and that the work of our nation, our values, never ends. And the newest addition to the collection, I’m very happy to say, is a portrait of a woman, Caroline Leroy Webster, and the wife of the great statesman Daniel Webster. And what a fitting reminder that our nation was built not only by great men, but also by great women. (Applause.)
I’m very committed to working with the committee and, of course, Marcee and her staff to build our endowment so that it reaches a point that enables us to not worry about the constant fundraising that is part of keeping these collections and adding to them. I was privileged to do that to help finish off a – an effort actually started by Pat Nixon and continued by successive first ladies. And I recognize some of you were also donors to the White House Endowment Fund.
I know we also have representatives from Blair House, another part of our State Department outreach to visitors from around the world. I cannot thank you enough for your gifts and your ongoing support. But I also particularly appreciate the joy that so many of you expressed as we were shaking hands and greeting one another to be in this room – in these rooms, and to feel that you too are part of American history and, in fact, you are. That’s what’s so unique about this extraordinary country of ours. It’s not only about the people whose portraits are on the wall. Every country has people whose portraits from the past are on walls.
What makes the United States of America unique is how individuals throughout our country’s history have taken responsibility for preserving the past, but imagining and creating an even better future. That’s what we’re going to try to do here in the State Department. And we want to be reminded of the very high bar that we face to make a contribution to our country and to the world similar to what has stood the test of time in history by the men and women represented in these fabulous rooms. Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)
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Archive for April, 2009
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Posted in Foreign Policy, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, state department, U.S. Department of State, tagged Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, State Department, U.S. Senate on April 30, 2009| Leave a Comment »
Opening Remarks on the President’s FY 2009 War Supplemental Request
TestimonyHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateTestimony before the Senate Appropriations CommitteeWashington, DCApril 30, 2009
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Cochran, members of the Committee, former colleagues and friends. I thank you for this opportunity to appear before you. And I also thank you for your stalwart support of the men and women of the State Department and USAID, who serve in critical and often dangerous missions in all corners of the world.
I’m honored to be here with Secretary Gates. I appreciate the partnership that we have developed in the first 100 days of this Administration, and today, on Day 101, I look forward to our further collaboration in the months ahead.Before turning to the topic of today’s hearing, let me just give you a brief update on how the State Department is supporting the federal government’s response to the H1N1 flu virus.
We have established an influenza monitoring group within our Operations Center. We are tracking how other governments are responding to the threat and what assistance we might offer. We are constantly reviewing and refining our advice to Americans traveling or living abroad.
Our pandemic influenza unit, set up in the last years, is providing valuable expertise. Its director, Ambassador Robert Loftis, is keeping us apprised of their work and their interaction with health agencies and the World Health Organization.
Earlier this week, USAID announced it is giving $5 million to the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization to help detect and contain the disease in Mexico.
We will continue to coordinate closely with the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, the WHO, the CDC, and other agencies. And I’m very cognizant of the role that we all must play in attempting to stem and contain this influenza outbreak.
Senator Gates – Secretary Gates and I are here together because our departments’ missions are aligned and our plans are integrated. The foreign policy of the United States is built on the three Ds: defense, diplomacy, and development. The men and women in our armed forces perform their duties with courage and skill, putting their lives on the line time and time again on behalf of our nation. And in many regions, they serve alongside civilians from the State Department and USAID, as well as other government agencies, like USDA.
We work with the military in two crucial ways. First, civilians complement and build upon our military’s efforts in conflict areas like Iraq and Afghanistan. Second, they use diplomatic and development tools to build more stable and peaceful societies, hopefully to avert or end conflict that is far less costly in lives and dollars than military action.
As you know, the United States is facing serious challenges around the world: two wars; political uncertainty in the Middle East; irresponsible nations, led by Iran and North Korea, with nuclear ambitions; an economic crisis that is pushing more people into poverty; and 21st century threats such as terrorism, climate change, trafficking in drugs and human beings. These challenges require new forms of outreach and cooperation within our own government and then with others as well.
To achieve this, we have launched a new diplomacy powered by partnership, pragmatism, and principle. We are strengthening historic alliances and reaching out to create new ones. And we’re bringing governments, the private sector, and civil society together to find global solutions to global problems.
The 2009 supplemental budget request for the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development is a significant sum, yet our investment in diplomacy and development is only about 6 percent of our total national security budget. For Secretary Gates and myself, it is critically important that we give our civilian workers, as well as our military, the resources they need to do their jobs well.
In Iraq, as we prepare to withdraw our troops, our mission is changing, but it is no less urgent. We must reinforce security gains while supporting the Iraqi Government and people as they strengthen public institutions and promote job creation, and assist those Iraqis who had fled because of violence and want to return home.
Last weekend, I visited Iraq, taking with me – or meeting on the ground, actually, our new ambassador who was confirmed the night before. We visited the leadership. We visited with a cross-section of Iraqis in a town hall setting. And clearly, there are signs of progress. But there is much work that remains. In meeting with Iraqis who are working with our Provincial Reconstruction Teams and our Embassy, I was struck by their courage and determination to reconstruct their country – not just physically, but really through the re-weaving of their society.
We have requested $482 million in the supplemental for our civilian efforts to help Iraq move forward – we want to create a future of stability, sovereignty, and self-reliance – and another $108 million to assist Iraqi refugees.
In Afghanistan, as you know, the President has ordered additional troops. Our mission is very clear: to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy al-Qaida. But bringing stability to that region is not only a military mission; it requires more than a military response. So we have requested $980 million in assistance to focus on rebuilding the agricultural sector, having more political progress, helping the local and provincial leadership deliver services for their people.
As President Obama has consistently maintained, success in Afghanistan depends on success in Pakistan. And we have seen how difficult it is for the government there to make progress as the Taliban and their allies continues to make inroads.
Counterinsurgency training is critical. But of equal importance are diplomacy and development, to work with the Pakistani Government, Pakistani civil society, to try to provide more economic stability and diminish the conditions that feed extremism. That is the intent of the comprehensive strategy laid out by Senator Kerry and Senator Lugar, which President Obama and I have endorsed and which the Senate will be considering in the next days.
With this supplemental request, we are seeking funding of $497 million in assistance for our work in Pakistan, which will support the government’s efforts to stabilize the economy, strengthen law enforcement, alleviate poverty, and help displaced citizens find safe shelter. It will also enable us to begin to keep the pledge we made to Pakistan at the Tokyo Donors Conference earlier this month.
In addition to our work in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, we are committed to help achieve a comprehensive peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and to address the humanitarian needs in Gaza and the West Bank. At Sharm el-Sheikh last month, on behalf of the President, I announced a pledge of $900 million for humanitarian, economic, and security assistance for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people. Our supplemental request is included in that pledge; it is not in addition to it. And it will be implemented with stringent requirements to prevent aid from being diverted into the wrong hands.
Meanwhile, the current economic crisis has put millions of people in danger of falling further into poverty. And we have seen again and again that this can destabilize countries, as well as sparking humanitarian crises. So we have requested $448 million to assist developing countries hardest hit by the global financial crisis. These efforts will be complemented by investments in the supplemental budget for emergency food aid, to counter the destructive effects of the global food crises, to try to help people who are undernourished to succeed in school, participate in their societies. And I’m very pleased that the President has asked the State Department and USAID to lead a government-wide effort to address the challenge of food security.
We also must lead by example when it comes to shared responsibility. So we have included in this request $837 million for United Nations peacekeeping operations, which includes funds to cover assessments previously withheld.
As recently in Haiti, where the UN peacekeeping force, led by the Brazilians, has done an extraordinary job in bringing security and stability to Haiti. It is still fragile, but enormous progress has been made. It is a good investment for us to pay 25 percent of that kind of stability operation instead of being asked to assume it for 100 percent of the cost.
We’re asking also for small investments targeted to specific concerns: international peacekeeping operations and stabilization in Africa; humanitarian needs in Burma; the dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear programs, assuming that they come back to the Six-Party Talks; assistance for Georgia that the prior administration promised and we believe we should fulfill; support for the Lebanese Government, which is facing serious challenges; and funding for critical air mobility support in Mexico as part of the Merida Initiative.
Finally, if the State Department is to pursue an ambitious foreign policy agenda that safeguards our security and advances our interests and really exemplifies our values, we have to have a more agile, effective State Department and USAID. We have to staff those departments well. We have to provide the resources that are needed. We have to hold ourselves accountable. Our supplemental includes $747 million to support State and USAID mission operations around the world.
Secretary Gates and I are also looking at how our departments can collaborate even more effectively. That includes identifying pieces of our shared mission that are now housed at Defense that should move to State.
With the budget support we’ve outlined in this supplemental request, we can do the work that this moment demands of us in regions whose future stability will impact our own.
Secretary Gates and I are committed to working closely together, in an almost unprecedented way, to sort out what the individual responsibilities and missions of Defense and State and USAID should be, but committed to the overall goal of promoting stability and long-term progress, which we believe is in the interest of the United States and which we are prepared to address and take on the challenges and seize the opportunities that confront us at this moment in history.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Posted in Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, state department, U.S. Department of State, Uncategorized, tagged Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, Sojourner Truth, State Department on April 27, 2009| Leave a Comment »
Tribute to Sojourner Truth: Unveiling of Bust in Emancipation Hall at the U.S. Capitol
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Emancipation Hall, U.S. Capitol
April 28, 2009
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SECRETARY CLINTON: What a wonderful day it is to be here in Emancipation Hall for this great occasion when Sojourner Truth takes her rightful place alongside the heroes who have helped to shape our nation’s history.This is an achievement that did not come easily or quickly. It took years of hard work and faith by many people to make this day possible. And what a great honor and pleasure it is to have with us for this extraordinary moment in our nation’s history our First Lady, Michelle Obama.I want to thank the Speaker for her leadership and also Congressman Boehner and Leader Reid and Senator McConnell, because this was a bipartisan effort. But I especially want to thank my partner in this project from the very beginning when we first co-sponsored the legislation for this extraordinary memorial years ago, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee.This dream began with C. DeLores Tucker. All of us who knew and admired and loved C. DeLores remember that when she had her mind made up, you could not change it. She saw this through almost to the very end, and I know she is smiling down on us today in celebration and pride. And it is such a great delight to have with us her husband, William “Bill” Tucker. Mr. Tucker, thank you.All the members of the National Congress of Black Women deserve our thanks, because you raised the money for this memorial. You raised it one dollar and five dollars at a time. It was a true grassroots effort. And you have every reason to be so proud of what you have achieved here.I also want to take a moment of personal privilege and recognize another one of my heroines, Dr. Dorothy Height, who is here with us. You know, leaders like Dr. Height and E. Faye Williams and Michelle Battle and so many others stand in the footsteps of Sojourner’s legacy. It is all around us today. You heard the bishop. We’re here because of barriers she challenged and fought to tear down and paths she helped to forge and trod alone. So we honor her memory and we pay tribute to her life’s work, and we recommit ourselves to fighting to end injustice and inequality wherever it remains.One hundred and fifty-eight years ago, hundreds of women and men from across the country gathered in a church in Akron, Ohio to declare a simple but revolutionary idea, that the rights afforded to men, particularly the right to vote, belonged to women too.Now, in a few minutes, we’re going to hear from one of our great actresses, Cicely Tyson, who will recount those words. But inside that crowded church when this former slave stood to speak, at first, people were not paying attention. Some were kind of rude, if you read the history. But she knew firsthand the cruelties of slavery and oppression and the burden of gender inequality, and she drew vital connections between the two.On that day in Ohio, she told the crowd of suffragettes that if they cared about women’s rights, they had to fight for the rights of current and former slaves, and that slaves deserved their support, just as the larger society should support the rights of women that they were campaigning for.She lived for nearly 90 years. She never stopped fighting to extend the rights and protections of our democracy. She preached against capital punishment and advocated for prison reform. She recruited African American troops for the Union Army. She helped to desegregate the streetcars that ran through Washington, and she worked diligently to improve living conditions for freed men and women.She did not know how to read or write. Her life was from the most humble and improbable circumstances. But she ended up counting President Lincoln and President Grant among her acquaintances. She never, never, despite what she went through, stopped believing in the promise of liberty. She lived long enough to see the end of slavery, but not the establishment of voting rights for women. The 19th Amendment would not be passed until 37 years after her death. But today, she takes her place in this Capitol, and we are the better for it.Was any person ever better named? Think about it. She is a sojourner of truth, by truth, and for truth. And her words, her example, and her legacy will never perish from this earth, so long as men and women stand up and say loudly and clearly: We hear you echoing down through the years of history, we believe that your journey is not yet over, and we will make the rest of that journey with you. God bless the memory of Sojourner Truth.# # #
Posted in Foreign Policy, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, state department, U.S. Department of State, tagged George Yeo Yong Boon, H1N1 Virus, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, Singapore, State Department on April 27, 2009| Leave a Comment »
Remarks With Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo Yong Boon Before Their Meeting
RemarksHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateTreaty RoomWashington, DCApril 27, 2009
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are very pleased to have Minister Yeo here with us on behalf of Singapore, a nation that we have very close and constructive relationships with, a nation that is right at the core of global commerce, and I think was just named for the 21st year in a row the best port. So we know that it’s a critical part of the global economy. And I also want to thank you and your government for your efforts on behalf of the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the medical and other work that you have provided in Afghanistan.
We have a big agenda before us, and I’m looking forward to our meeting.
FOREIGN MINISTER YEO: Thank you very much, Secretary Clinton, for welcoming me to the State Department. Delighted to be back here and delighted to be calling on you in your capacity as Secretary of State. Bilateral relations between Singapore and the U.S. are excellent. We have a free trade agreement which was negotiated in ’03, a strategic framework – a security framework agreement which was concluded in ’05. Singapore armed forces work with the U.S. armed services in Iraq and in Afghanistan and the Gulf of Aden.
I am here today to discuss how to take our relations to a higher level. We appreciate it very much, Madame Secretary, your visit to East Asia, your first – on your first overseas visit. Your visit to the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta was much appreciated. We look forward to welcoming you back in July for the ASEAN Regional Forum.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, yes.
FOREIGN MINISTER YEO: And we are also looking forward to the visit of President Obama for the ASEAN – for APEC Economic Ministers Meeting in Singapore in November this year.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
FOREIGN MINISTER YEO: Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We are looking forward to all of that as well. Thank you so much, Minister.
FOREIGN MINISTER YEO: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, how are you advising Americans in terms of travel to Mexico?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We have put up on our website information and urging caution with those who are planning to travel. We are coordinating very closely with the Centers for Disease Control, with the Department of Homeland Security. We are taking this very seriously and working also with the World Health Organization and other countries to try to develop a strategy to prevent the spread of this form of swine flu.
We do believe that our efforts are developed and prepared to confront this wherever it might occur inside our own country, and enhanced cooperation across boundaries will be very important. And we obviously have offered help and assistance to the Government of Mexico to make sure that they have the resources and the technical expertise that they might need if they so request.
Posted in Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, state department, U.S. Department of State, tagged Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Operation Step-it Up, Secretary of State, State Department on April 27, 2009| 1 Comment »
Remarks at “Operation Step-it Up” and Career Gear Event
RemarksHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateGeorge C. Marshall Conference CenterWashington, DCApril 27, 2009
Well, I am delighted to be here. I want to thank Under Secretary Pat Kennedy for helping us host all of you today, and I want to also commend Louis Henderson and Darlene Young and the wonderful team that is part of Team 20 to have really spearheaded this effort.
Operation Step-it-Up is an example of the ways in which we can tap into the leadership skills of our employees and build good, strong, interagency cooperation and contribute to helping a lot of others as well. So I’m very proud that the State Department is able to host this event.
I have a longstanding interest in adoption and foster care issues dating back many, many years. My own mother actually was sort of informally fostered after her teenage parents couldn’t take care of her and her grandparents were similarly unable. And so she went to work in a home with a family taking care of their children, but the mother of that family was especially sensitive, so she made it possible for my mother to finish her work in the morning, getting the children of the house out to school, and then go to high school. So she actually was able to graduate from high school, which was an extraordinary accomplishment. And I wonder what would have happened to her if she hadn’t had that support.
In the years that I’ve been a lawyer and a child advocate and worked in organizations like the Children’s Defense Fund, I have tried to support positive changes in the foster care system and the adoption system, trying to find permanent, loving homes for children. But very often, it’s not possible to find family support or the community support that young people really deserve, especially those aging out of foster care. And this is an issue that I paid particular attention to when I was honored to be First Lady and then during the years in the Senate. I often had young people who had been in the foster care system interning in the First Lady’s office and in the Senate office, and I know that Mr. Henderson has been deeply involved in working on behalf of programs designed to assist young people when they do age out of foster care.
Little things can make such a difference, and what you’re doing today to really help young people kind of navigate the employment world is so significant. And I don’t know about you, but I certainly worried about what to wear on my first job interviews. And so the whole idea of trying to help young people make a good first impression, providing these suits that will help young adults transitioning out of the foster care system – when I started working on the aging out of foster care issues, most states had a regulation that when you graduated from high school or turned 18, whichever came first, you were no longer in the foster care system. And so social workers would literally show up at foster homes and group homes and hand these young people a black garbage bag and tell them to put their possessions in this bag and then they were on their own.
And for some of the young people that I have gotten to know over the years, it was just a shocking experience, particularly for those halfway through their senior year in high school. And they lived with friends’ parents. One young woman who I got to know just went from home to home, and from airport to airport, to bus station to bus station, just trying to find a place to spend the night so she could graduate from high school. She had already been accepted into a college, but she had to graduate from high school. And many other real hardships that these young people have had to endure.
So I’m impressed and grateful that our federal employees are participating in the Executive Leadership Program, and it didn’t stop just with an idea; you have followed through on it. And I know it’s going to make a difference. No matter what job we’re in or what level of government our position may be, I think we’re all public servants. And as public servants, I think we have a responsibility and an opportunity to give back. Operation Step-it-Up will give a lot of real-time help to young people who so desperately deserve it.
One of the young men who served as an intern in my office when I was a senator was someone who had been in and out of many foster homes. Luckily, when he was about 15, got into a situation with an adult who really made an investment, as he would tell you, no matter how difficult he was, stayed with him, got him through high school. Then he went on to college. He was an intern for me a couple of years while he was in college. And now he’s in law school, and I’ve often talked with him about what it’s been like for him. And he said, “Well, you know, you just have to imagine that it’s like you’re dropped into an island culture where you really don’t know the cues, you don’t know what it’s like to go to somebody’s home for Thanksgiving dinner because you really haven’t had that opportunity. You don’t know what it’s like to have a parent encouraging you or a grandparent who stays in your life.”
And what you’re trying to do here through this program sends a very strong signal that we may not know, those of us fortunate enough to have families that have stood with us and supported us. But I watched my own mother struggle with what it was like to become an adult pretty much on her own and then to have her own family, and to try to apply the lessons that she saw in that space of time when she was working in someone else’s home who took the time to try to foster and mentor her.
So I couldn’t be more delighted to be here to support this, and I’m very proud of particularly our State Department employees, but really all our federal employees for taking this on. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
Posted in Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, state department, U.S. Department of State, tagged Climate Change, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, State Department on April 27, 2009| 1 Comment »
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Remarks at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate
RemarksHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateLoy Henderson Conference RoomWashington, DCApril 27, 2009
Thank you, Todd. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Well, I’m delighted to welcome all of you to the State Department for this very consequential meeting. As I look around the table, I think I have met in bilateral forums with all of the countries here, if not in multilateral forums, over the last nearly 100 days. And at each and every one of those meetings, global warming, climate change, clean energy, a low-carbon future has been part of our discussions. And I’m very pleased to welcome the personal representatives of 17 major economies, the United Nations, and observer nations to this first preparatory meeting of the major economies on energy and climate.
I think it’s significant that this discussion is taking place here at the State Department, because the crisis of climate change exists at the nexus of diplomacy, national security and development. It is an environmental issue, a health issue, an economic issue, an energy issue, and a security issue. It is a threat that is global in scope, but also local and national in impact. I’m delighted that our Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern, will be working with you, as will Mike Froman, who sits at that nexus in the White House between the National Security Council and the National Economic Council.
You know the details or you would not be here. There is much going on in the world today that challenges us, and it is remarkable that each of your nations has committed to this because we know that climate change threatens lives and livelihoods. Desertification and rising sea levels generate increased competition for food, water and resources. But we also have seen increasingly the dangers that these transpose to the stability of societies and governments. We see how this can breed conflict, unrest and forced migration. So no issue we face today has broader long-term consequences or greater potential to alter the world for future generations.
So this morning, I would like to underscore four main points. First, the science is unambiguous and the logic that flows from it is inescapable. Climate change is a clear and present danger to our world that demands immediate attention. Second, the United States is fully engaged and ready to lead and determined to make up for lost time, both at home and abroad. The President and his entire Administration are committed to addressing this issue and we will act.
Third, the economies represented here today have a special responsibility to pull together and work toward a successful outcome of the UN climate negotiations later in the year in Copenhagen, and I’m delighted that Denmark could join us because they are going to host this very important meeting. And the Major Economies Forum provides a vehicle to help us get prepared to be successful at that meeting.
And fourth, all of us participating today must cooperate in developing meaningful proposals to move the process forward. New policy and new technologies are needed to resolve this crisis, and they won’t materialize by themselves. They will happen because we will set forth an action plan in individual countries, in regions, and globally. It took a lot of work by a lot of people to create the problem of climate change over the last centuries. And it will take our very best efforts to counter it.
First, I want for the American audience principally, but also for international audiences, to underscore what I said here just a few weeks ago when we had the meeting of the Antarctic consultative group. Some of the countries were represented here. The science is conclusive. The evidence and impact is getting more dramatic every year. Facts on the ground are outstripping worst-case scenario models that were developed only a few years ago. Ice sheets are shrinking. Sea levels are rising. Oceans are becoming more acidic, threatening coral and other life forms. So the imperative is clear. We are called to act, and future generations will judge us as to whether we do or not.
Second, the United States is no longer absent without leave. President Obama and I and our Administration are making climate change a central focus of our foreign policy. We are, as Todd has often said, back in the game. We don’t doubt the urgency or the magnitude of the problem. This forum is not intended to divert attention from working towards solutions, but to assist us in creating those solutions. And we are moving quickly. On April 17th, in a decisive break with past policy, our Environmental Protection Agency announced its finding, that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions threaten public health and welfare. This move will open the door for more robust tailpipe emission regulations.
President Obama has proposed a broad, market-based cap on carbon pollution that would include a mandatory national target through the year 2050, when emissions would be cut by 80 percent. A market-based cap will encourage game-changing private investments in clean energy and improvements in efficiency, streamlining our regulatory process, stimulating new jobs and growth, and setting us on the road to a low-carbon economy. We, with our stimulus package of just a few months ago and our continuing emphasis will make significant, direct investments in clean energy technology and energy efficiency. And our EPA is paving the way for more stringent auto emission standards.
Now, we are well aware that some see the economic crisis as an excuse to delay action. We see it in an exactly opposite way, as an opportunity to move toward a low carbon future. So we work on that internally and we look forward to working with all of you.
We believe that the $80 billion in President Obama’s recovering plan, which includes funding and loans for clean energy development, targets to double our country’s supply of renewable energy over the next three years. And we also are working very hard on programs to make homes and buildings more energy efficient. We think this is something that all countries can do in this immediate economic crisis to make this a green recovery, and some of you are far ahead in doing that. We are also reengaged in the UN framework convention negotiations and looking forward to working throughout this year.
Third, as major economies, we are responsible for the majority of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. We may be at different stages of development and we certainly may have different causes of the emissions that we are responsible for, but we think coming together and working to address this crisis is comparable to the G-20 nations addressing the global economic crisis. That is why I want to assure you that the United States will work tirelessly toward a successful outcome of the UN Framework Convention negotiations.
There is no sense in negotiating an agreement if it will have no practical impact in reducing emissions to safer levels. The math of accumulating emissions is clear. So we all have to do our part, and we need to be creative and think hard about what will work in order for us to achieve the outcomes we hope for.
It is going to be both a national and local responsibility, as well as a global one. I believe that this forum can promote a creative dialogue and a sense of shared purpose. Of course, each economy represented here is different. And some, like mine, is responsible for past emissions, some responsible for quickly growing present emissions. But people everywhere have a legitimate aspiration for a higher standard of living. As I have told my counterparts from China and India, we want your economies to grow. We want people to have a higher standard of living. We just hope we can work together in a way to avoid the mistakes that we made that have created a large part of the problem that we face today.
And it will be harder, not easier, if we fail to meet the challenge of climate change for all countries, particularly developing countries, to continue the growth rates that they need to sustain the increase in standard of living that they’re looking for.
And finally, I would hope that we could develop through this mechanism concrete initiatives that leaders of the major economies can consider when they meet in Italy in July. We have to come up with specific recommendations. Breakthroughs can and should come from anywhere and everywhere. That’s why creative diplomacy and genuine collaboration is called for. And I think proposals for transformational technological changes, creating markets for such changes, subsidizing them on a declining basis so that we can get those new technologies into the market, whatever combination of incentive and mandatory requirements that will accomplish this change in the short run, should be considered.
Being good stewards as we must be of this fragile planet that we inherit together, requires us to be pragmatic, not dogmatic. We have to be willing to embrace change, not just repeat tired dogma. And I think we have to be ready to do whatever it takes and whatever the earth demands to succeed in addressing this common danger to our future.
I remember many years ago, as a young woman, seeing the first pictures that came back from space of earth, and looking at that blue and green orb as it spun on its axis, and I remember being so struck about how it was this place of light and life in what appeared to be just darkness and no life, so far as we knew. We now bear the responsibility in this generation, and the United States is ready to do our part. We are ready to listen and learn and to participate as a partner and also as a leader at this critical juncture. We want to be sure that that fragile planet we inhabit continues to provide for the greatest opportunities for our children and generations to come. But in order to do that, we have a historic responsibility to come together and actually create a new history.
So I appreciate your coming. I look forward to the reports of your deliberations. And I urge all of us to do what we know we must do to put our world on the right track to deal with this crisis. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Ali Al-Sammak, Deborah K. Jones, Foreign Policy, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Kuwait, Secretary of State, Shaykh Dr. Mohammad Al Sabah, State Department on April 26, 2009| Leave a Comment »
Her public schedule for April 24 said she had no public appointments. She was, in fact in the air headed for Kuwait – news that never broke for security reasons. She arrived in the evening to the obvious delight of her Kuwaiti counterpart, Ambassador Ali Al-Sammak, who met her at the airport with U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait Deborah K. Jones. She met with Kuwaiti Deputy Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs Shaykh Dr. Mohammad Al Sabah, spent the night in Kuwait, and left the next morning in a military transport for Baghdad.