Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation, in testimony today before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, called for a renewed focus on the U.S.-China relationship with respect to climate and environmental issues. Wirth proposed that a high-level position be created within the State Department to manage bilateral cooperation on a new model of sustainable economic growth based on increasing use of clean energy, and that U.S. and Chinese scientists, academics, and engineers work together on the next generation of technology.
“The United States is the largest developed country, and China is the largest developing country. Together they are responsible for 50 percent of the carbon pollutants being emitted into the atmosphere,” said Wirth, noting the importance of leadership by the two countries in climate negotiations. “The U.S. should not let this opportunity slip away – it’s about energy security, climate change, and U.S. competitiveness in the short term and about developing a strong network of relationships between the U.S. and China that will allow the two countries to tackle increasingly complex issues in the long term.”
As the United Nations conference on climate change in Copenhagen nears, the Committee convened the hearing to ask the question, “Copenhagen and Beyond: Is there a Successor to the Kyoto Protocol?” Wirth’s answer was “a resounding yes.”
Last month, the United Nations Foundation, in partnership with the Center for American Progress, released an analysis showing that achievable goals in energy efficiency, renewable energy, forest conservation, and sustainable land use worldwide could provide 75 percent of needed global emissions reductions in 2020 at a net savings of $14 billion. Wirth urged the Committee to treat these “core elements” of a new agreement as priorities in its oversight and reauthorization of the Foreign Assistance Act. To learn more about the report, please click here.
About the United Nations Foundation
The UN Foundation, a public charity, was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation is an advocate for the UN and a platform for connecting people, ideas, and resources to help the United Nations solve global problems. It builds partnerships, grow constituencies, mobilize resources and advocate policy changes to support the UN’s work for individual and global progress. The UN Foundation’s work is focused on decreasing child mortality, improving disaster relief, protecting diverse cultures and environments, creating a clean energy future, empowering women and girls, and improving U.S.-UN relations. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.