Opening of Environmental Summit Nicaragua COP21 2015

Ambassador Dogu during her speech

Group photoDr. Medina, Thank you for that introduction.  It is a pleasure to be at this event and to talk about this important issue.

Last year in Indonesia, Secretary of State John Kerry called climate change “the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”  It has the potential to change where we live, what crops we can grow, and even what diseases we face, all over the world.  With every record-breaking drought or hurricane, with every new temperature record, it becomes clearer that we are no longer talking about potential for climate change.  We are talking about the reality of climate change.  There is no doubt that swift, collective action is needed today on this issue.

The United States is responding to the challenge of global climate change with decisive action, both domestically and in our foreign policy.  We have already reduced our own greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent in the past ten years.  Through President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the United States will further reduce emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2030.  By making ambitious but achievable commitments, we are unleashing the ingenuity of our scientists and businesspeople to find creative ways of meeting these goals.  Automakers are designing cars that are ever more efficient in order to meet the highest fuel economy standards in U.S. history.  Domestic solar production is twenty times higher than it was just six years ago.  And the United States is producing its lowest levels of greenhouse gases in nearly 20 years.  We will build on this success with new carbon pollution standards for power plants, new investments in clean energy, and even higher efficiency standards for both passenger and cargo vehicles.  Through these actions, the United States will cut its greenhouse gas emissions without reducing economic growth.

The United States is leading the world in the fight against climate change and is using all of the tools at our disposal – our diplomatic and development resources, our unique scientific and technological capabilities, the ingenuity of our business community, and our role as a global financial center – to address climate change worldwide.  Last year’s landmark accord between the United States and China resulted in the world’s two largest economies committing to significant reductions of greenhouse emissions and defined a common vision for an agreement next month at the Paris COP.  Secretary Kerry highlighted last month at the our Ocean Summit in Chile how our world-class scientists will continue to monitor the problem and research solutions, including a new initiative to use an advanced network of unmanned submarines and ocean-based sensors to measure the levels of carbon dioxide and acidification in the Pacific Ocean.

Through our foreign assistance, the United States has provided nearly $13 billion in the past five years to help countries mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.  U.S. leadership has encouraged other donor countries to follow suit as we work toward mobilizing $100 billion in assistance from public and private sources worldwide.

We will also continue to support efforts led by the private sector.  Secretary Kerry recently announced the launch of the $20 million Clean Energy Finance Facility for the Caribbean and Central America.  This fund will provide early-stage financing to clean energy projects throughout the region.  I hope that businesses here are able to take advantage of this opportunity to expand Nicaragua’s already impressive investments in clean energy.

Here in Nicaragua, we are building the capacity of local organizations to participate in national climate change planning.  With our assistance, Pearl Lagoon and Corn Island will have the country’s first municipal plans for climate change.  Other U.S. programs focus on strengthening potable water committees, protecting the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve, and helping farmers become more resilient and productive in the face of climate change.  Through these and other efforts, the United States is committed to helping Nicaragua achieve its climate change priorities.  We are proud to support efforts, such as this summit, that emphasize the need for a collective response to climate change.  I am impressed by the way the organizers have focused on producing concrete, actionable outcomes for each roundtable.  I encourage all participants to listen with an open mind and contribute to this important conversation.

As we look forward to next month’s conference in Paris, the United States will continue to encourage all countries to come forward with ambitious but achievable targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  We will keep pushing for an ambitious, durable, fair agreement that applies to all countries, includes strong accountability measures, and ensures ongoing financial and technical assistance to countries that need it.

Congratulations again to CEN, UAM, and to all of the participants here today for being a part of this important effort.  Best wishes for a productive and enlightening summit.