Before a Joint Hearing of the
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
JOHN F. TURNER
Assistant Secretary of State for
Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Chairmen Jeffords and Sarbanes, and other members of the Environment and Public Works Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to review U.S. implementation of environmental treaties. The United States has a strong record on global environmental issues. We are a leader in addressing environmental challenges on the international level, having spearheaded efforts to negotiate environmental agreements on issues ranging from ozone depletion to stemming illegal trade in endangered species. Just a few weeks ago, the President submitted to the Senate an important treaty between the United States and Russia that would strengthen the conservation of our shared polar bear population through a coordinated sustainable harvest management program.
In the case of toxic chemicals, the Administration submitted to Congress this spring, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and additional legislation that would allow the United States to implement this agreement, in addition to a regional agreement POPs agreement and a treaty on Prior Informed Consent. These multilateral agreements affirm the U.S. commitment to cooperate with other countries on global health and environmental challenges. My distinguished colleague, Jim Connaughton, just discussed the enormous challenges we face addressing climate change and how the Bush Administration intends to tackle the problem while ensuring our economy continues to grow.
These treaties are just a few examples of environmental agreements that serve as noteworthy tools in our foreign policy arsenal. The Department of State plays an important role in monitoring the implementation of these agreements and working inter-agency and international processes to ensure U.S. interests are served. For illustrative purposes, we would like to describe our efforts related to the following five agreements we have ratified and currently are implementing - the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer; the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES); the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation; and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
During the 1980s, the United States led a global effort to negotiate an agreement to phase out the production and consumption of substances that deplete the ozone layer. Scientific evidence showed that strong steps were needed to protect human health from the debilitating effects of ozone depletion, such as increased incidence of skin cancer and cataracts. These global efforts resulted in the adoption of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in September 1987, which was ratified by the United States in 1988, and has now been ratified by 182 other countries.
Over the last 15 years, implementation of the Montreal Protocol and its subsequent amendments has yielded remarkable progress in protecting the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the consumption and use of ozone depleting substances on a global scale. The United States has met its obligations under the Montreal Protocol by phasing out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform.
Although the State Department is the lead agency responsible for coordinating our participation in the Protocol, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the principal entity responsible for domestic implementation of the Protocol, under authority provided by the Clean Air Act. (The Clean Air Act specifically authorizes EPA to take steps necessary to ensure that our domestic regulations are consistent with our obligations under the Protocol.) Additionally, the Department of Justice and EPA have played an important role by identifying and prosecuting individuals engaged in illegal smuggling of ozone-depleting substances, making the United States a world leader in these law enforcement activities.
The Protocol also includes provisions to establish a Multilateral Fund to provide financial and technical assistance to developing country Parties to assist them in meeting their obligations under the Protocol. As the largest contributor to the Multilateral Fund, the United States has made available over $340 million to the Fund since its inception.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
CITES, called by some the Washington Convention, concluded on March 3, 1973 in Washington, D.C. and entered into force on July 1, 1975. As of July 1st of this year, 158 Parties have adopted the Convention.
CITES conservation goals are to: monitor international trade in endangered species; maintain those species in an ecological balance; and assist countries toward a sustainable use of species through international trade. The contracting Parties to CITES recognize that international cooperation is essential for the protection of wild flora and fauna.
CITES Parties regulate wildlife trade through controls and regulations on species listed in three appendices. Appendix I lists species threatened by extinction which are or may be affected by trade. Trade in Appendix I species is allowed only in exceptional, non-commercial circumstances and only with permits from both the exporting and importing country. Appendix II species include species which, while not now threatened with extinction, may become so unless trade in such specimens is subject to strict regulation. Export permits are required from the country of export, and both exporting and importing countries must monitor the use of those permits. Trade in Appendix III species requires a certificate of origin and an export permit based on a finding of legal acquisition and satisfaction of preparation and shipping conditions. Listing or de-listing of species in Appendix I or II requires consideration by the Conference of the Parties of species proposals submitted by Parties. To succeed, such proposals must gain a two-thirds majority in a vote of the Parties. Individual Parties can list species under their jurisdiction in Appendix III for the purpose of preventing or restricting exploitation or if they deem a need for cooperation in controlling the trade. A Party may take a reservation to the listing of a species on Appendix I or II within 90 days of the vote and anytime after the addition of a species to Appendix III. As the trade impact or other threats to a species increase or decrease, species may be shifted between, added to, or removed from these Appendices.
CITES also regulates international trade through a system of import and export permits that are required before specimens leave a country. Each Party must appoint a CITES Management Authority and a CITES Scientific Authority. The Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, is the Management Authority and Scientific Authority for CITES for the United States and also plays the major law enforcement role. The Management Authority is responsible for issuing permits and implementation of the trade controls of the convention, as well as maintaining records of trade in specimens in the Appendices. The Scientific Authority is responsible for making scientific findings on whether trade will be detrimental to the survival of a species and for monitoring the export permits granted against the actual level of trade for a species. CITES also requires law enforcement capability to enforce the CITES provisions and penalize illegal trade.
With respect to implementation, the U.S. implements CITES primarily through regulations developed under the Endangered Species Act as well as enforces it through other existing laws such as the Lacey Act. The United States ensures compliance through extensive regulatory systems; Washington based policy, scientific and permitting offices; and enforcement personnel at designated CITES ports. These are administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Interior and/or the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Department of Agriculture.
The United States is proud of its record in implementing its CITES obligations. We are at the forefront of CITES parties in fulfilling these obligations. CITES studies have recognized these accomplishments. For example, one determined that the United States has effective national legislation implementing CITES obligations, and another found that the United States was effectively controlling the trade in tigers and tiger parts. A strong and professional staff at the Fish and Wildlife Service, together with good coordination with the State Department, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and other agencies, have made this notable success possible.
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
Negotiations that led to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) began in Chantilly, Virginia, in February 1991 at the invitation of President George H.W. Bush. The negotiations concluded on May 9, 1992, in New York where the convention was adopted. It was subsequently opened for signature at the June 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The UNFCCC entered into force on March 21, 1994, after ratification by 50 Parties. The United States ratified the UNFCCC on October 15, 1992, becoming the first industrialized nation and the fourth nation overall to do so. As of July 2002, the UNFCCC has 186 Parties.
The UNFCCC creates a broad global framework for addressing the challenge of climate change. It establishes an objective, commitments for different groups of countries, and a set of institutions to enable governments to consider and adopt appropriate actions and to monitor the Convention’s implementation. The Convention groups countries into two annexes. Annex I lists most members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) plus the states of Central and Eastern Europe as well as several states of the Former Soviet Union. Prior to the year 2000, Annex I Parties were to adopt policies and measures aimed at returning their greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels. Annex II lists a smaller subset of Annex I Parties who agreed to provide financial resources to assist developing countries in implementing their Convention commitments.
The ultimate objective of the Convention is “to achieve…stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic [human-induced] interference with the climate system.” The Convention’s objective further provides that “Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.”
All Parties to the Convention are committed to respond to climate change and to cooperate in various ways toward this end. In particular, each Party is required to prepare and submit a national inventory of its emissions by sources and removals by sinks (forests and other natural systems that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere) of greenhouse gases. Each party is also required to prepare a national communication describing the steps it is taking to implement the Convention. The United States submitted its Third National Communication (the U.S. Climate Action Report) to the Convention’s secretariat in May 2002.
In addition, the Convention requires that all Parties:
· Formulate national or regional programs containing measures to mitigate climate change
· Promote the development and diffusion of technologies that control, reduce or prevent greenhouse gas emissions
· Promote sustainable management and conservation of sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases
· Cooperate in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change
· Take climate change considerations into account to minimize adverse effects of steps taken to mitigate or adapt to climate change on the economy, on public health, and on the quality of the environment by carefully considering climate change actions
· Promote and cooperate in research, systematic observation and the development of data archives related to the climate system so as to further understanding and reduce uncertainties about the causes, effects, magnitude and timing of climate change and the consequences of response strategies
· Promote and cooperate in the full, open and prompt exchange of scientific and other information related to the climate system and the consequences of response strategies, and
· Promote and cooperate in education, training and public awareness related to climate change
Annex I Parties have more extensive requirements under the Convention to report on the steps they are taking to address climate change and, as noted, prior to the year 2000 they were to aim to return their emissions of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels. Annex II Parties have certain additional requirements under the Convention. They agreed to provide financial assistance to developing country Parties to help them meet their Convention commitments, and they agreed to assist developing country Parties that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting the costs of adaptation to those adverse effects. Annex II Parties also agreed to assist other Parties, particularly developing country Parties, with technology transfer and access to environmentally sound technologies and know-how.
The Global Environment Facility serves as an operating entity of the Convention’s financial mechanism. All Annex II Parties contribute to the Global Environment Facility, including the United States. In addition, however, developed country Parties may also provide financial resources related to the implementation of the Convention through bilateral, regional and other multilateral channels. The U.S. Climate Action Report contains detailed information both with respect to U.S. contributions to the GEF as well as with respect to the other means through which the United States is meeting its obligations under the Convention.
The work of the Convention takes place in two subsidiary bodies – the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation – which meet normally twice a year to prepare for an annual meeting of the Conference of the Parties, the supreme body under the Convention. The subsidiary bodies held their most recent session from June 3-14 in Bonn, Germany, the seat of the Convention’s secretariat. The 8th Conference of the Parties will take place from October 23 to November 1, 2002, in New Delhi.
Negotiations to strengthen the commitments of Annex I Parties began in 1995, following a decision – the so-called “Berlin Mandate”-- taken at the first session of the Conference of the Parties. In July 1997, the Senate adopted the Byrd-Hagel Resolution by a vote of 95-0 urging the administration to sign no agreement that would harm the U.S. economy or that did not contain specific scheduled quantified commitments for developing countries. In December 1997, Parties to the Convention adopted the Kyoto Protocol at their third session. The United States signed the Kyoto Protocol on November 12, 1998. The previous administration never subsequently sent the Protocol to the Senate for advice and consent, maintaining that the Kyoto Protocol was a “work in progress” and that key developing countries would need to agree to “meaningful participation” for the United States to ratify it.
After taking office in 2001, President Bush announced that the United States would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol because it would harm the U.S. economy and it contained no commitments for 80 percent of the world. At the same time, the President indicated that each nation must decide whether to ratify the Kyoto Protocol based on an assessment of its national interest and that the United States would not interfere with the decisions of other nations in this regard. As of July 2002, 74 nations and one regional economic integration organization (the European Union) had ratified or acceded to the Kyoto Protocol. Collectively, these countries represent 36 percent of the 1990 carbon dioxide emissions of the Convention’s Annex I Parties. Under its terms, the Kyoto Protocol will enter into force once 55 Parties to the Convention, incorporating Parties included in Annex I which accounted for at least 55 percent of the total carbon dioxide emissions for 1990 of the Parties included in Annex I, have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.
President Bush has made two major announcements of U.S. policy regarding global climate change – on June 11, 2001, and on February 14, 2002. Both of these announcements call for intensified efforts with other nations to address the challenge of climate change. Toward this end, the United States has initiated a series of bilateral climate change relationships with important partners, including: Australia, Central America (CONCAUSA), the European Union, Canada, China, India, Italy and Japan. Discussions toward additional climate change relationships have begun or are contemplated also with: Brazil, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, South Africa and Ukraine.
These bilateral climate change relationships range from those devoted largely to undertaking cooperative science and technology projects to those that may focus more on the exchange of information and views related to climate change policy. Along this continuum – from S&T projects at one end to policy at the other – each relationship usually involves a particular mix of the two. In the case of Japan, for example, we have three working groups focused on: (1) S&T cooperation; (2) developing countries; and (3) market mechanisms.
Both with our continued, active participation under the UNFCCC and in our bilateral relationships that complement and enhance our multilateral cooperation, we are seeking to build relationships that will enable us and others to address the long term challenge of climate change on a balanced and measured basis, consistent with the need to ensure the continued economic prosperity for our citizens and our nation.
North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation
The North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), commonly referred to as the NAFTA environmental side agreement, serves as an important framework for cooperation among the three North American governments on a wide range of environmental affairs. Among other things, the NAAEC established the Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC), which coordinates such cooperation. The United States remains committed to the agreement, which has been in force since 1994, and to the North American environmental cooperation that takes place under it.
The Commission established by the agreement is composed of a Council, a Secretariat and a Joint Public Advisory Committee. The Council is the governing body, and is composed of representatives of the governments. The three environment ministers represent their governments on the Council. The EPA Administrator is the designated U.S. representative on the Council and EPA has lead responsibility for managing the interagency process that develops U.S. positions and guides our participation in the CEC. The Department of State works closely with EPA and maintains responsibility on all questions regarding the interpretation of the agreement. We play an active role in implementation of the NAAEC and in developing work through the CEC.
The NAAEC is notable for a high degree of citizen participation. A trilateral Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) participates in CEC deliberations, including direct interaction with the Council. The governments each appoint five members to the JPAC, who represent a wide array of stakeholders from industry, academia, and nongovernmental organizations. Each country also maintains governmental and/or non-governmental domestic advisory bodies. The structure of the CEC has produced fluid communication among our countries that has enhanced significantly our broader relationships.
The NAAEC also contains a public submission process in which citizens may submit claims to the Secretariat regarding the failure of a government to enforce its environmental laws and the Council may direct the development and release of a “factual record” concerning the claim in response.
The United States has fully complied with our obligations under the NAAEC. Unlike some other environmental agreements that call for very specific actions or the achievement of specific targets in a designated timeframe, the NAAEC sets up a general framework for cooperation, which is then developed and implemented over time through the CEC. This has proven to be an effective framework for promoting environmental cooperation within North America.
The UN Convention to Combat Desertification
The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) arose out of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro at which African countries argued that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity did not address their major concern - desertification. Desertification - the degradation of dry lands - is not limited to Africa: it affects millions of people inhabiting one quarter of the world's land area from the American west, to the Aral Sea in Russia, to Argentina and the islands of the Caribbean, Indonesia and the Mediterranean.
The United States played a key role in negotiating the UNCCD -- a role which is a natural outgrowth of the United States' experience during the Dust Bowl of the 1930's and our long-standing concern about desertification in developing countries, particularly in Africa. Negotiations on the CCD concluded in June 1994 and the Convention entered into force in December 1996.
The purpose of the Convention is to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought on arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid lands through effective local, national, regional and global action, particularly in Africa. The Convention's central objective is to promote the sustainable use of drylands world-wide, but especially in Africa, and to make more efficient use of aid resources, thereby helping to solve Africa's and other affected regions’ chronic hunger problems. The CCD employs a unique grass-roots approach, emphasizing a "bottom-up" approach with strong local participation in decision-making.
Under the Convention, the United States, with approximately forty percent of our landmass considered arid, semi-arid or dry sub-humid and therefore susceptible to the processes of desertification, is an affected Party. As an affected Party, the United States is required to have strategies to address desertification. Given our extensive system of land management strategies, practices and programs, no changes were or are required in our domestic policies or programs for the U.S. to meet this obligation under the Convention. (The Convention acknowledges that Parties may implement their obligations through “existing or prospective” arrangements). Many of the principles used successfully in the U.S. over the past 70 years have been incorporated in the language of the Convention. All Parties are required to submit reports to the Secretariat of the CCD on activities undertaken in support of the CCD, on a timetable determined by the Conference of the Parties. The first U.S. Report on Activities Undertaken in Support of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification was officially submitted July 3, 2002.
The United States is also required to provide support for developing country efforts to combat desertification, including by providing financial resources, although the Convention does not impose a specific amount or timing with respect to this requirement.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead U. S. government agency implementing the CCD overseas. The Department of the Interior (Bureau of Land Management) and the Department of Agriculture also carry out program activities in support of the implementation of the Convention. Bilaterally and regionally, the United States works with affected developing country Parties, local and international non-governmental organizations, and multilateral development banks on anti-desertification program activities, including education, community development, and capacity building, with the goal of empowering local people to combat desertification by identifying needs and solving problems themselves. An important aspect of CCD implementation is the dissemination of technology and scientific and technical information. The U.S. has made and will continue to make an important contribution in this area, given our 70 years of experience combating desertification in the American West.
While significant progress in protecting the environment has been made, enormous challenges lie ahead. The upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa, provides the United States with a unique opportunity to take stock of our past accomplishments and to build on them in helping to advance economic and social growth and environmental stewardship. We have learned a great deal since the Rio Earth Summit. WSSD gives us a chance to create a new paradigm that stresses sound economic policies, national capacity for good governance, anti-corruption, transparency and the role of science. The Bush Administration is committed to its success.