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President Clinton and the Millennium Summit: Protecting the Global Environment

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President Clinton and the Millennium Summit: Protecting the Global Environment

September 7, 2000

President Clinton is strongly committed to working with the United Nations and the United States' international partners to strengthen environmental protections worldwide and to meet the vision of a sustainable future outlined in the Secretary General's Millennium Report.

Protecting the world's sensitive ecosystems. The United States is actively supporting the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (an international study on the status of the world's ecosystems that is currently getting underway). Today, in his speech to the Security Council, the President announced that the United States would contribute the first complete set of detailed, up-to-date satellite images of the world's forest ecosystems to the Assessment. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will work with other U.S. agencies to assemble and provide these images from its TERRA and Landsat satellites over the next six months, with subsequent updates. This data will help researchers to understand better the status of forests and provide policymakers with new tools to help control illegal logging, conserve threatened forest areas, and promote sustainable economic growth. This effort builds on previous U.S. contributions of scientific data to international assessments of ozone depletion and climate change, and the data will be shared with the public and other interested parties.

The United States is helping lead international efforts to conserve and sustainably manage the world's threatened biological diversity. The President's Greening the Globe initiative (a $150 million initiative, proposed in the FY2001 budget, to help developing countries strengthen their economies by conserving, rather than destroying, their irreplaceable forests and biodiversity) would nearly double U.S. funding for the protection of threatened tropical forests and their biological diversity.

Fighting climate change and promoting clean energy. Pesident Clinton and Vice President Gore have made climate change a priority both at home and abroad. U.S. leadership was critical in negotiating the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which sets strong, realistic targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and establishes market-based mechanisms to ensure that they are met cost-effectively. The President is taking aggressive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions including through directives to reduce energy use in federal buildings to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2010, and to target tripling the use of bio-energy in the U.S. over the next decade. In November, parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change will meet to attempt to complete the design of critical Kyoto features such as emissions trading and the "Clean Development Mechanism." The United States is committed to finishing the work begun at Kyoto.

Strengthening environmental protections in finance and trade. The United States has been a longtime advocate for strong environmental standards in the international financial institutions and taken a leadership role in developing standards for its Export Credit Agency (ECAs). At the urging of the United States, G-8 leaders committed in Okinawa last July to develop common environmental guidelines for G-8 ECAs by the next G-8 summit in 2001, and to draw on experience from institutions like the World Bank to guide their work. The President has also issued an Executive Order requiring careful environmental review of major new trade agreements.

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