About the Author: Todd Stern serves as Special Envoy for Climate Change.
In the lead-up to Earth Day in 1996, Secretary of State Warren Christopher set out what at the time seemed an ambitious vision: “to put environmental issues where they belong: in the mainstream of American foreign policy.” Thirteen years later, Secretary Christopher’s vision has taken hold. Thanks to Secretary Clinton, the environment – particularly the global climate change crisis – is front and center in U.S. diplomacy.
I saw this first-hand when I joined Secretary Clinton on her inaugural trip to China, Japan, Indonesia, and South Korea. There, in meetings with Presidents and Prime Ministers, with Foreign Ministers and business groups, and with students and non-governmental organizations, climate change was a critical part of the agenda.
There is no question anymore that the world must take urgent and bold action to combat climate change. The science is clear, and threat is real. The United States must lead on this issue, and we will. We have already taken bold domestic action and we will continue to develop a comprehensive climate and energy plan that will create millions of jobs and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
And, even closer to home, Secretary Clinton has challenged each of the employees of the Department of State to get involved personally by contributing our ideas and efforts to her new Greening Diplomacy Initiative.
While we develop the necessary steps to combat climate change at home, we are also actively reaching out and listening to our partners abroad. Climate will be in the spotlight again next week, when the State Department hosts 17 economies, plus the United Nations and Denmark (as host of this December’s UN climate conference) for the first preparatory session of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate.
In order to forge a global solution to this crisis, we need climate to be at the core of our foreign policy; thanks to President Obama and Secretary Clinton, it is.