THE AREAS OF responsibility of the Department of State are the United States' foreign policy. Also, how foreign policy may impact U.S. security. Therefore, its interests in global warming and climate change are only to the degree that these phenomena may affect international policy or national security.
According to a June 2007 Report to Congress, called The Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act 2005 (P. L. 109-121), "Climate variability is a measure of the degree to which rainfall and temperature vary across seasonal, annual, interannual and even interdecadal time periods compared with a long-term regional climate mean. Climate change refers to long-term, sustained changes in the climate mean itself." This document states that United States' interests in climate change is strategic because climate change affects water levels, cleanliness, and its availability to poorer nations. The long-term impact of inadequate water in these nations could affect United States' interests, because this could negatively impact their public health which could create unstable governments.
President Bill Clinton strongly supported environmental responsibility. His administration created a new Department of State position to watchdog international environmental conditions, the Undersecretary for Global Affairs. In this way, the foreign policy of the U.S. became concerned with the environment and its stewardship. The position of Undersecretary for Global Affairs was first given to Timothy E. Wirth, a former green senator from Colorado. Wirth served in this position from 1993 until 1997. Following with this environmentalist spirit, Secretary of State Warren Minor Christopher issued a statement on February 14, 1996, stating that U.S. foreign policy would, from that point on, keep the environment and its care in focus, and that Department of State officials must consider this focus when designing international poli cies or meetings. Like Wirth, Christopher served in his position between the years 1993 and 1997.
A chief concern of President George W. Bush, along with the Department of State, is the reduction of the U.S. dependence on foreign oil. As a fortuitous side effect, through the investigation of other routes of energy generation, science and technology lead towards energy sources that are cleaner and more environmentally responsible than the burning of fossil fuels. In May 2007, President Bush pledged to have a plan by the end of the year 2008, which would encompass an international effort to reduce climate change, with efforts to begin in the year 2012. Countries involved would be major developed and developing countries; in other words, those countries that produce and emit the greatest quantities of greenhouse gases. The United Nations would also be included in this process. To this end, a meeting took place in September 2007 between leaders of the invited nations: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and South Korea, as well as the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union.
President Bush stated that the United States will reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases in relation to the size of its economy. Therefore, greenhouse gas intensity was defined as greenhouse gas emissions per unit of economic activity; overall greenhouse gas intensity was to be reduced by 18 percent by the year 2017.
As a member of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP), along with Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, and South Korea, the United States works to ensure that as these Asian Pacific nations develop, they will incorporate environmentally-responsible technologies into their economies and infrastructures.
The APP is a significant team of nations because it represents approximately one half of the world's population and the same percentage of its economy. The APP has eight task forces: Aluminum, Buildings and Appliances, Cement, Cleaner Fossil Energy, Coal Mining, Power Generation and Transmission, Renewable Energy and Distributed Generation, and Steel.
In 2008, in recognition of the 2007-09 International Polar Year, Under Secretary of State Paula
Dobriansky traveled to the dedication ceremony for the Amundsen-Scott Station, a new scientific research unit at the South Pole on Antarctica. The station is run by the United States Antarctic Program (USAP), and is the third of its kind at the South Pole since the first station opened in 1956. Research conducted at the Amundsen-Scott Station will be used to analyze climate change, the ozone layer, glacial dynamics, and the universe at large. Antarctica was established as a protected area for peace and science. in the year 1959, by the Antarctic Treaty. The activities of the United States in Antarctica are managed by the United States Department of State in conjunction with the National Science Foundation.
The U.S. Department of State was established on July 27, 1789, as the Department of Foreign Affairs. It was created by the Senate and the House of Representatives in order to assist the president in maintaining international relations, and for purpose of national security. In September of the same year, the name was changed to the Department of State. It is also commonly referred to as the State Department. Today, the State Department is located in the Harry Truman Building in Washington, D.C., and in 2007 ran on an annual budget of approximately $35 billion.
SEE ALSO: Antarctic Circumpolar Current; Antarctic Ice Sheets; Antarctic Meteorology Research Center; Australia; Brazil; Bush (George W.) Administration; Canada; China; Climate Change, Effects; Clinton Administration; Department of Defense, U.S.; Department of Energy, U.S.; European Union; Glaciers, Retreating; Glaciology; Greenhouse Gases; India; Indonesia; Japan; Korea, South; Mexico; National Science Foundation; Policy, International; Policy, U.S.; Russia; South Africa; United Nations.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. G. Hunt, The Department of State of the United States: Its History and Functions (Adamant Media Corporation, 2001); P. Samuel, "Making the World safe: The Clinton Administration's Environmental Policies," National Review (September 22, 1996); M. See, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Business Aspects (Springer, 2001); U.S. Department of State, www.state.gov (cited January 2008).
Claudia Winograd University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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