Climate Clinic: LibDem conference

Clean energy is the future

Historically the US is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, says Louis B Susman. But advanced developing nations such as China and India are vital to any solution

A A A

Climate change is a difficult and complex challenge for all countries around the world. However, as I begin my work as the new US Ambassador to the Court of St James's, one thing is clear: when it comes to facing the challenges of climate change, both at home and abroad, President Obama is taking the United States in a new direction.

The US will be a leader in the global effort to combat climate change. We have a responsibility as the world's largest historic emitter of greenhouse gases. We know that without US emissions-reductions, no solution to climate change is possible. And we are confident that the US can and will take the lead in building the 21st-century clean-energy economy.

On the domestic front, the President is working with Congress to pass comprehensive legislation to protect our nation from the serious economic and strategic risks associated with our reliance on oil and the effects of a changing climate. He is advocating policies that advance energy and climate security, and will promote economic-recovery efforts, accelerate job creation, and drive clean-energy manufacturing.

For example, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contains over $80bn for clean-energy investment. President Obama instituted new fuel standards for cars and trucks that will require an average fuel economy standard of 15km per litre in 2016. The clean-energy legislation that has passed the House of Representatives and is being developed in the Senate would cut US carbon emissions 17 per cent by 2020 and 83 per cent by 2050 from 2005 levels. The President has called this bill, "an extraordinary piece of legislation that will finally open the door to decreasing our dependence on foreign oil, preventing the worst consequences of climate change, and making clean energy the profitable kind of energy."

But while strong US domestic action is necessary, it is not sufficient. This is a crisis that demands a global solution. Over 80 per cent of future greenhouse-gas emissions will come from developing countries.

My government is pursuing a global strategy to combat climate change on a number of fronts, and we aim to work closely with all our partners in this effort. We are aggressively seeking an international agreement through the UN Framework Convention negotiating process. We have established an invigorated dialogue among 17 of the largest economies through the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate. We are elevating the climate and clean energy to a top-tier issue in key bilateral relationships, including that with the UK.

Two issues must be kept in mind as we move forward. First, developing countries such as China and India must play a critical role in any global solution to climate change. There is simply no way to preserve a safe and liveable planet unless China, India and other advanced developing countries play a very important role, along with the US, in addressing climate change. We believe the US and other major developed countries must speak with one voice on this issue.

Second, we believe our plans to curb emissions are comparable to those of EU nations, and any differences are too small to stand in the way of a global deal. For example, we believe that the US mid-term emissions target represents a level of effort comparable to those of the EU and other developed countries, combined with an ambitious long-term target. From an environmental perspective, the differences between the US and EU climate packages are very small – much smaller than the effect of unchecked emissions growth among advanced developing economies in the near future. According to some calculations, the net effect of the different projected trajectories of the US and EU on greenhouse-gas concentrations in 2050 is less than 2.5 parts per million.

Finally, we think addressing climate change is an economic opportunity, not a burden. The link between clean, sustainable energy and robust economic growth should be the hallmark of the 21st-century global economy. And while the US supports the fundamental right of all nations to develop, it is clear that the only way to achieve truly sustainable development is through a low-carbon pathway.

That is why the US will continue to work hard toward its goals of combating climate change, and reaching a strong international agreement that puts the world on the path to a clean-energy future.

Louis B Susman is the United States Ambassador to the Court of St James's

The sea is rising: Sea levels rose 1.8mm a year between 1961 and 2003. Between 1993 and 2003 it speeded up to 3.1mm a year. This may reflect the Greenland ice sheet melting

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor