The US continues to lead efforts on many important international environmental issues â€” such as clean energy, natural resource conservation, climate change, air and water pollution, ocean protection, fisheries conservation, and infectious disease prevention. For example, last year, to protect and sustain the oceans around us, President Bush established the waters of Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as an area for special protection and management.
This area â€” the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument â€” became the largest single conservation area in US history. It is home to 4,500 square miles of coral reef habitat â€” the largest remote reef system in the world, home to more than 7,000 marine species. As a resident of Hawaii, I can attest to the ecological beauty and importance of this vast area.
To protect wildlife, the US established the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking, a voluntary public-private coalition of like-minded governments and organisations that aims to focus public and political attention on ending the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products. This global coalition, made up of 18 partners from governments, international organisations and conservation groups, has improved wildlife law enforcement, reduced consumer demand for illegally traded wildlife, and catalysed high-level political will to fight wildlife trafficking.
To preserve forests, the US has partnered with, supported, and funded initiatives in Indonesia, Liberia, and the Congo Basin, among other areas, to combat illegal logging and implement important forest reforms that will sustain forests, generate employment, and alleviate poverty.
To address the problem of greenhouse gases in our own country, the US has implemented a portfolio of policy measures, including mandatory, incentive-based, and voluntary programmes. From 2000-2004, US population grew by 11.5 million and GDP grew 9.6%, but our greenhouse gas emissions increased by only 1.3%.
President Bush has also set a goal to reduce gasoline usage in the US by 20% over the next decade. Through incentives, more stringent fuel economy standards, research on alternative fuels like biodiesel and ethanol, and $12 billion invested to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable energy sources, the US could cut annual CO2 emissions by 10%, or around 175 million metric tons, by 2017. This would be like taking 26 million automobiles off the road today.
A collaborative approach is the best path to combat climate change internationally. The US established the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP) to engage the governments and private sectors in six key nations â€” Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the US. These nations account for about half of the worldâ€™s economy, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions. APP partners are enhancing deployment of clean energy technologies to address their energy, clean development, and climate goals. One such deployment involves leveraging a $500,000 US government grant into $120 million of investment to build the worldâ€™s largest coal mine methane power facility in China â€” which, when completed, will avoid the equivalent emissions of one million cars annually. These are a few examples of what the US is doing to preserve the earth.
We recognise that we cannot achieve our environmental goals alone. That is why over the last six years the US has embarked on a path toward a collaborative, result-oriented model to mobilise concrete actions to provide basic services to people and encourage economic growth, social development and environmental stewardship.
Our sustainable development partnerships have leveraged the expertise, innovation, and financing provided by the private sector, non-profit, academic, and international interests to supply over 19 million people with increased access to energy, provide 19 million people with better access to safe drinking water, bring 26 million people improved sanitation, and eliminate harmful leaded gasoline in sub-Saharan Africa for 733 million people.
Here in Nepal, the US is supporting the conservation of the Tarai Arc Landscape (TAL), one of the most biologically diverse habitats on earth which supports high densities of tiger, one-horned rhinoceros, and Asian elephants. This project aims to restore and maintain the forest corridors by linking protected areas in the Tarai through partnerships with local communities.
The US will continue to support projects like the TAL that advance economic growth, promote social development, and protect the environment worldwide. Here in Nepal, I ask you to consider what you might do, by, as the expression goes, â€œthinking globally and acting locallyâ€ to help ensure all our children and grandchildren live in a world where the skies are clear, the forests are healthy, and the rivers are clean.
Moriarty is the US ambassador to Nepal