“The U.S. is Already Going Green”

United States COP 15 banner

The 15th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), with participation from 192 nations, will be held December 7–18 in Copenhagen. Any climate accord reached at the Copenhagen meeting would succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which required 37 industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions an average of 5 percent by 2012.

President Obama will attend the Copenhagen conference on December 18th to help move toward a comprehensive and operational Copenhagen accord.  

The President has ordered his Administration to reduce America’s carbon footprint, including by doubling the generating capacity from wind and other renewable resources in three years, and by spending billions to capture carbon pollution from coal plants. 

In addition to working with Congress to produce new comprehensive climate and energy legislation, the President has also described new efficiency standards to increase fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks in the U.S.  In September the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established mandatory reporting for U.S. facilities on greenhouse gas emissions.  Our goal is to achieve significant reductions through conservation.  Just this week, the EPA issued a final ruling that greenhouse gases posed a danger to human health and the environment, which paves the way for regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, power plants, factories, refineries and other major sources.

Developed countries must do their part.  President Obama’s commitment to travel personally to Copenhagen underlines his determination that the U.S. will fulfill its obligations.  But Chinese President Hu Jintao’s presence at Copenhagen will also be a symbol of the developing world’s obligation.  If we are to succeed globally, major developing nations must also take actions to substantially reduce emissions by 2020 on a relative basis, compared to their so-called “business as usual” path.  In the context of an overall agreement that includes mitigation contributions from all major economies, the United States is prepared to put on the table an emissions reduction target in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels in 2020, and ultimately consistent with U.S. energy and climate legislation.  In line with the President’s goal to reduce emissions 83 percent by 2050, this pending legislation would put the United States on a pathway toward a 30 percent emissions reduction in 2025 and a 42 percent reduction in 2030.

We know developing countries need help.  President Obama has talked about an emerging consensus that a core element of the Copenhagen accord should be to mobilize $10 billion a year by 2012 to support adaptation and mitigation in developing countries, particularly the most vulnerable and least developed countries that could suffer most from the impacts of climate change.  The United States will pay its fair share of that amount and welcomes statements by other countries that intend to make substantial commitments as well. 

We look forward to working with Malaysia as a valuable partner in the region.  We are proud that among U.S. investors in Malaysia at present there are several companies pioneering in the solar energy field.  But perhaps the most significant role Malaysia could play in addressing global climate change is to produce tradable carbon credits by conserving forest cover particularly in the state of Sarawak.

The United States is committed to achieving the strongest possible outcome from the two week climate change negotiation in Copenhagen.  All of us must face realistically the scope of the problem and understand that developed and developing country contributions are necessary. We are all in this together. 

For more information about the US position on climate change, visit: http://www.america.gov/global/environ.html.

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Broadening and Deepening the U.S.-Malaysia Bilateral Relationship

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg talks to reporters in Kuala Lumpur. © AP Images

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg talks to reporters in Kuala Lumpur. © AP Images

Just after many of the world’s leaders were in New York at the United Nations General Assembly and in Pittsburg at the G-20 Summit, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg visited Kuala Lumpur for two days this week to meet with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, a Vice Foreign Minister and the Defense Minister.  His visit and meetings are a reflection of the growing broad-based relationship between the United States and Malaysia.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak meets with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg. © Bernama

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak meets with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg. © Bernama

 His trip reflected  the priority that President Obama and Secretary Clinton have placed on deepening U.S. ties to Southeast Asia and to the countries of ASEAN.Some of the issues of mutual interest that were touched on in this week’s meetings included the state of the global economy and the economy here in Malaysia, non-proliferation and export control, global climate change and the role that we can all play leading up to the Copenhagen Summit, and combating human trafficking.    

The delegation had an interesting discussion with a number of representatives from the various political parties and civil society in Malaysia.  This is an important part of our engagement, to talk not only with senior government officials but also with a broad range of Malaysian citizens involved in key social and political issues.  Our engagement also reflects the pluralist nature of Malaysia, which offers the chance for U.S. officials to compare notes with and learn from Malaysian civil society leaders.

Sharing the Spirit of Ramadan

Greeting guests at a Buka Puasa at our home

Greeting guests at a Buka Puasa at our home

It has been a pleasure for my wife Jan and me to host a series of buka puasas at our home during the month of Ramadan. These past weeks we have invited many people from different walks of life in Malaysia to share the breaking of the fast. We are happy that these buka puasas have given us an opportunity to have many lively discussions about the role of Islam in Malaysia, the U.S. and the world. Spending time with old and new friends alike has been enjoyable for us.

Sharing a story with a guest

Sharing a story with a guest

America has a diverse religious landscape. Immigration continues to transform it even more. Religious freedom in America is a core value. We are a nation founded by people seeking religious liberty. America is a reverent country, but also a tolerant one. People with diverse views can practice their faiths in the U.S. When he hosted an Iftar at the White House on September 1, 2009, President Obama quoted prominent Muslim-American and boxing legend Muhammad Ali: “Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths.” We will continue to seek ways of advancing relations between Malaysia and the U.S. on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest.

Right now, people from many religions are living and working side by side in America, just as they are in Malaysia. At these buka puasa dinners, we were able to share our friendship with Malaysians of all faiths.

America Seeks Partnership with Malaysia to Fight Trafficking in Persons

Ambassador CdeBaca (center) and Charge Rapson share ideas with Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Datuk Anifah bin Haji Aman

Ambassador CdeBaca (center) and Charge Rapson share ideas with Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Datuk Anifah bin Haji Aman

This has been a difficult year for all of us as the global economic crisis has increased pressure on citizens all over the world. Global demand for labor has diminished and workers must try harder to find jobs. One result has been an increase worldwide in forced labor of migrants and exploitation of women in many ways, including very sadly through prostitution. Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to exploit our countries citizens for profit. Around the world, both men and women are forced to work in brothels, factories, and on farms. In many cases they are treated brutally and can even be driven to suicide or beaten to death.

America is working with international partners to increase global awareness of human trafficking and to highlight efforts to combat it. We encourage foreign governments to take action against all forms of trafficking. Please look at our Embassy website for a link to a report evaluating America’s strengths and weaknesses in combating trafficking in our own country.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said that “in acknowledging America’s own struggle with modern-day slavery and slavery-related practices, we offer partnership. We call on every government to join us in working to build consensus and leverage resources to eliminate all forms of trafficking.”

In that spirit, Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, Director of the United States Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and a Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Clinton, visited Kuala Lumpur in August. During his visit he met with senior Government of Malaysia officials to learn about aspects of the human trafficking problem facing Malaysia. Ambassador CdeBaca highlighted the benefits of partnership between Malaysia and America to fight human trafficking. We welcome Malaysia’s enforcement of its anti-trafficking law, including efforts to provide temporary shelter to victims of trafficking. Migrant workers victimized by forced labor are also deserving of help and protection. The subject of trafficking related to labor is an important part of the combined effort of many countries to eliminate trafficking in Southeast Asia.

This is a serious law enforcement issue. Traffickers may break many laws in addition to Malaysia’s anti-trafficking statute. Our experience shows that once organized crime gets a foothold in a country, the criminals will look for every opportunity to turn a profit, regardless of whom they hurt. By working together, Malaysia and the United States can develop more effective ways to prevent our citizens from becoming victims and prosecute the criminals who are doing damage to U.S. Malaysian, and other ASEAN countries’ vital interests.

2009 Hari Merdeka Message from U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia

On behalf of the American people, I want to extend to all Malaysians my warmest wishes on the occasion of Malaysia’s 52nd Independence Day on August 31.

The United States and Malaysia enjoy excellent relations and we look forward to building on those strong ties in the coming year.

I congratulate all Malaysians as you celebrate the 52nd anniversary of your independence.

Selamat Menyambut Hari Kemerdekaan yang ke-lima puluh dua!”

Ramadhan Mubarak!

Ramadan in America

Ramadan in America (Please click on the above image to view the video)

I wish to send a message of friendship and respect to all our Muslim friends in Malaysia as they begin the sacred month of Ramadan.

As America’s Muslim community grows in numbers and prominence, Americans of every religious tradition are learning more about the origins and meaning of Islam. We wish to partner with people of all faiths to celebrate the rich diversity of our different cultures.

I hope all of you know we welcome Islam in America. Islam’s teachings of self-discipline, compassion and commitment to family enrich our country. America respects Muslims in the U.S. and around the world, from Malaysia and Indonesia to Pakistan, the Middle East and Africa.

I understand that the Holy Koran says God created nations and tribes so we may know one another. As the fasting month of Ramadan begins I wish all Muslims and peoples of other faith traditions in Malaysia a peaceful and blessed Ramadan.

Ramadan Mubarak!

Related Link – President Obama’s Ramadan Message (English Text / Bahasa Text / English Video)

A New Era of Engagement

It’s been a couple of weeks now since Secretary of State Clinton delivered her major foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC.

For those of you who have not yet seen this speech, I encourage you to take a look at it because it details a new era of U.S. partnership and engagement in foreign policy. By the way, you can also watch the speech at this video link.

In short, these are the major messages in Secretary Clinton’s speech.

  • In a new spirit of global cooperation, the U.S. seeks to engage partners around the world to work together on solving the world’s problems.
  • The U.S. approach to foreign policy must reflect the world as it is, not as it used to be.
  • The U.S. understands the importance of offering to engage Iran and giving its leaders a choice to join the international community as a responsible member or to continue down a path to further isolation.
  • Through an architecture of cooperation, the U.S. will join with new global partners to solve the world’s problems. Through global partnerships, together, we will achieve wonderful progress around the world.

I find Secretary Clinton’s messages of global partnership and renewed engagement around the world particularly compelling. And I’m interested in your thoughts.

So, in this renewed spirit of partnership and cooperation, I invite you to leave a comment or two sharing your thoughts and perspective on Secretary Clinton’s speech.