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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 21, 2007

Press Briefing by Dana Perino and Senior Administration Officials on UNGA, Energy Security and Climate Change
James S. Brady Briefing Room

     PDF Link Press Briefing Slides (PDF, 882 kb, 3 pages)

Jim Connaughton, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
Dan Price, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, NSC
and Michael Kozak, Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights and International Organizations, NSC

10:00 A.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Good morning. We are pleased to have today with us Mike Kozak, who is the Senior Director at the National Security Council for Democracy, Human Rights and International Organizations. We have Dan Price, who is the -- gosh, excuse me -- Deputy National Security Advisor. And you all met him -- a lot of you met him in Australia, I didn't think he needed much of an introduction. And Jim Connaughton, the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality. They're going to talk to you about the UNGA trip and then Connaughton can also talk to you -- and Dan Price -- can talk to you about the President's meetings next Thursday-Friday, which follow, regarding climate change.

So I'll turn it over to them.

MR. KOZAK: Thanks, Dana. As you know, next week the President will be attending the opening of the U.N. General Assembly. This is an annual event, every year leaders from throughout the world gather in New York. And our President has a special role as the leader of the host country -- it's sort of part of the process up there that the President of the United States makes an address early on in the proceedings.

The presence of so many world leaders in one place at one time gives us a unique opportunity to advance the President's agenda on a wide range of issues. Some of these issues are part of the formal agenda of the U.N. itself, and of various U.N. bodies, and some may be issues that are being handled on a bilateral and multilateral basis on the margins of the U.N. structure. But all of them are issues that are crucial to people throughout the world.

The President's schedule and his remarks to the General Assembly in New York will reflect just how broad and robust is the international agenda that he is pursuing on an ongoing basis. As I think all of you know, it's no secret that he considers freedom from violence and freedom from tyranny to be universal values to which every human being aspires and to which every human being is entitled. But he also believes that disease, poverty and lack of education prevent human beings from realizing their aspirations for freedom and that the international community has an obligation and an interest in liberating people from these constraints.

These interrelated aspects of human freedom are embedded in each of the major agendas he'll be advancing in New York. For example, the situation in Darfur involves a deficit in virtually every aspect of human freedom. The President has been in the lead internationally in calling attention to this situation and to the consequences of it and in trying to formulate solutions. He's put us in the forefront of the international humanitarian relief effort for the victims of violence in Darfur. And he's also been in the forefront of trying to organize an effective peacekeeping force to come in and build on what the African Union has been trying to do there for the last several years.

In recent months we've seen the U.N. Security Council members finally take responsibility and authorize a robust peacekeeping force. The President during the sessions in New York will be participating in a U.N. Security Council session chaired by President Sarkozy on -- and his, the President's focus will be on how to accelerate and expand that peacekeeping effort in Darfur.

In his remarks to the General Assembly the President will focus on what the United States is doing to lead efforts of the international community to combat disease, illiteracy, tyranny and poverty more broadly throughout Africa.

The second big thing next week is a major and significant part of the week will be focused on the climate change issue. Secretary Rice will be attending a climate change meeting on Monday, which is the day preceding opening of the General Assembly, that the U.N. has organized. And then the President that evening will, at the invitation of the Secretary General, attend a dinner the Secretary General is putting on with key leaders from countries that have major economies, countries in the developing world and countries that are particularly vulnerable to being affected by climate change. And so this dinner will be focused on climate change, as well.

And then following that, following the President's attendance at the events in New York, coming back to Washington, there'll be later in the week the major economies meeting, also focused on climate change, which my colleagues will be briefing on in a bit.

So there's a lot of climate change activity going on, all of this with a view -- and I think we've seen that the President has been trying to find ways to bring the major economies together to support and energize and further the U.N. framework effort. And so it's coming together this week, all with a view towards making the U.N. conference in Bali in December a success.

For those of you who've followed the General Assembly visits of the past couple of years, you know that the President has led sessions involving both established democracies and new democracies on topics about what all of us can do together in the international community to both help people who are struggling for democracy and human rights in unfree countries, and then what we can do to strengthen democratic institutions in newly free countries where they're a little bit shaky sometimes.

In 2005, he and Prime Minister Singh of India co-chaired a meeting launching the U.N. Democracy Fund, which was actually an initiative the President had taken in his speech the previous year to the General Assembly, where he suggested the U.N. should be active in democracy promotion. That fund was put in place, launched in 2005, and these days actually is dispersing tens of millions of dollars of voluntary contributions to projects around the world, as a competitive process for projects that will actually help to further democratic freedom.

You also may recall that last year we had a session in which he had heads of state and government and also members of -- NGOs that are struggling for human rights and democracy throughout the world, in various difficult countries throughout the world. And they met together and talked about what is it governments can do that most helps people who are struggling for their freedom. And some ideas came out of that. In the conference he attended in Prague in June, some further ideas were put forward by the folks that are struggling around the world.

And so this year, he'll be meeting with over 20 other leaders to take stock of those different ideas that were recommended, and see if we can both find out how much we have put in place since those meetings, and then other steps that we may take together to carry out further those recommendations.

As you know, the President also believes that as regards international trade and investment, the theoretical debate should -- is or should be over. When barriers to trade are reduced or removed, economies grow. When the dominance of traditionalist elites is reduced, ordinary citizens gain opportunities to prosper and poverty is alleviated.

The Doha Round of trade talks is at a crucial stage that could either advance freedom from poverty or prolong the status quo. So the President will use his speech and meetings in New York to try to provide impetus to these crucial negotiations by highlighting the responsibility of leaders to take the difficult political decisions that will allow a successful outcome of the Doha Round.

The President sees the broader Middle East as a major center in the struggle for freedom in all of its aspects -- freedom from violence, tyranny, disease and poverty. Secretary Rice is just back from the region last night and a meeting of the Quartet. As you know, U.S., U.N., Russia and the European Union will occur in New York on Sunday. All of these activities are aimed at helping the Palestinian people both to build the institutions of democracy within the Palestinian Authority and also to then help them and the Israelis try to achieve the vision of a two-state -- two democratic states living side by side in peace with each other that the President has enunciated.

The President's meetings with President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad of the Palestinian Authority and with Quartet Representative Tony Blair will be opportunities to advance these objectives.

Finally, there is the United Nations organization, itself. The President believes that the U.N. plays a vital role in the world and that the U.N. staff and the member states both have a responsibility to assure that its operations meet the highest standards of integrity and efficiency. So he'll have an opportunity in his meetings with the Secretary General and with the President of the General Assembly to reaffirm the importance of full implementation of the reforms that have already been made in the field of ethics and transparency and to find ways to work with the Secretary General and others to promptly rectify reforms that have not quite worked out as intended, namely the Human Rights Council.

So at this point it might be useful for me to just walk through sort of day by day the meetings the President will be attending, which are on Monday. As I mentioned, he will be meeting together with the President of the Palestinian Authority and the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority; the two of them in one meeting.

He'll subsequently be meeting with Tony Blair, and then he has another meeting with President Lula of Brazil. So jam-packed.

Q Can you give us times for those?

MR. KOZAK: I think you'll be getting later today from the press folks, because they'll piece in where there will be press availabilities and so on at the different events. So I'm doing them in sequence and by day at this point, and you'll get the exact times later on.

And then that evening, as I mentioned, he will attend the Secretary General's dinner on climate change.

Q Is the President going to make remarks at that? Is there --

MR. KOZAK: No, it's my understanding of the format that the Secretary General has set up is people will be talking, but it's not a series of speeches. It's kind of a working dinner format, where people enter in and discuss, but not prepared speeches.

Q The others who --

MR. KOZAK: I would ask the U.N. that. We have some news, but not full news on it. They're the host and they can give you an update on exactly who. But the categories of leaders that they were looking for were leaders of major economies, leaders of some of the major developing countries, and then some leaders from states like island states that could be particularly affected by climate change.

So it's an opportunity for them all to discuss. I think it's going to be around 20-25 leaders that they're inviting and they'll have an opportunity there to really talk about this in an informal way, but with helping to set the agenda for the future.

Q Open? Closed? Photo op? Do you have any idea --

MR. KOZAK: Again, it's a U.N. event.

MS. PERINO: It's Ban Ki-moon's dinner, so you'll have to check with him, but I believe it's closed.

MR. KOZAK: You know, whether they allow some stills at the top or something, again, ask them. We don't have full -- on all of these events that are organized by the U.N., so we're doing our best on that.

On Tuesday, which is the actual opening of the General Assembly -- these other events are preceding the formal opening, but on Tuesday morning the President will make his customary courtesy call on the Secretary General and have a meeting with him. He also makes a courtesy call on the new incoming President of the General Assembly, Dr. Kerim of Macedonia, in this case, who is the leader for the coming year.

Then he'll make his formal remarks to the General Assembly. This is a very formulaic, U.N. thing on schedule. We always speak fourth and it's as host country, the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary General speak. And for some reason the President of Brazil always speaks first because it's always been that way. Even having studied it for years, I've never been able to find out why that is, but he apparently spoke first the first time they had a U.N. General Assembly so it's always thus.

But that's where the President will have his largest address and lay out the themes that sort of infuse the rest of the schedule.

He will have a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Iraq following the General Assembly meeting. And then will go to this round --

Q At the U.N.?

MR. KOZAK: It's not in the U.N. building, I do not believe. Let me see. No, it's back at the hotel. I think all the bilats this year are at the hotel. We've tried it the other way in other years and it's kind of difficult to do in the U.N. building with the mob scene going on; getting people in the same place at the same time sometimes isn't easy.

Later on that day he'll be hosting this roundtable on human rights and democracy that I mentioned with 20-plus leaders. And then will attend the Security Council event on Africa that President Sarkozy, as the -- the French have the presidency of the Security Council this month, so he will be in the chair and has been the impetus behind that meeting.

Q Where is that?

MR. KOZAK: In the Security Council chamber at the U.N. It's a formal Security Council event, not an ad-hoc meeting of people who happen to be on the Security Council.

That evening, the President will host the reception that he does each year for all the heads of delegation of countries that are attending the U.N., with a few exceptions, as you can imagine, with countries that we don't have diplomatic relations with. But those are few and far between.

And then, finally, the President will be attending a dinner hosted by the Secretary General of the U.N. This is a slight variation this year. I think as most of you know, usually on that first day, the Secretary General hosts a lunch for all of the heads of delegations of the different countries. Because the General Assembly opening is occurring during Ramadan this year, having something during the daytime that involves lots of eating wasn't -- I think the U.N. decided was not a good idea. So they've flipped it and made that into a dinner that will follow our reception.

On Wednesday morning, the President will meet with the President of Afghanistan. And then he'll have an opportunity to greet our team at the U.S. Mission to the U.N., and that will be the end of his U.N.-related events.

I think you can see from this agenda a snapshot of the broad agenda that the President is pursuing internationally to try to help achieve the aspirations of people everywhere, which are reflected in the founding documents of the U.N. itself: freedom from terror, from tyranny, from disease, poverty and illiteracy. Sometimes people will say these are values of the West or values of the United States or values that this President is trying to promote -- all of those are true. But they also are universal values not only in our conception, but in the founding documents of the U.N., itself. These are values that all U.N. members have signed on to. And they're values that if pursued by the international community can help people move towards a better life.

I think as we've seen, the President has said this is the work of generations, the freedom agenda; but the more we work on it, the fewer generations will have to wait until they can see the fruits of this labor.

So with that I will turn it over to my old friend, Dan Price, and then we can come back at the end, I guess, and answer questions.

MR. PRICE: Good morning. As you know, next Thursday and Friday the United States will host a meeting of the world's major developed and developing economies -- 17 in total, plus the U.N. -- to address the global challenges of climate change and energy security.

President Bush proposed this initiative in his speech on May 31 of this year, where he explained the need for the major developed and developing countries -- that is, the ones that use the most energy and produce the most greenhouse gases -- to be at the same table, working together to set goals and formulate approaches for achieving them.

The President's initiative was then endorsed by the leaders of the G8 countries at their summit at Heiligendamm who agreed -- and here I quote from the communiqu -- "addressing climate change is a long-term issue that will require global participation in a diversity of approaches to take into account differing circumstances." The President's initiative was then welcomed earlier this month by the 21 leaders of the APEC nations in the Asia Pacific, nine of whom will be attending the major economies conference. This initiative has also been welcomed by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The President's central proposition is really this: tackling global climate change requires all major economies -- developed and developing -- to work together; and it requires each to make a contribution consistent with its national circumstances. In other words, the principle of common, differentiated responsibilities.

Our meeting next week will bring together key energy, economic and environment officials, from the largest economies, to begin the process of achieving consensus on the key elements of a post-2012 framework. On our side, the meeting will be hosted by the Secretary of State. It will be chaired by Jim Connaughton, as the President's personal representative. And Treasury Secretary Paulson, Commerce Secretary Gutierrez, Energy Secretary Bodman, EPA Administrator Johnson, and Acting Agriculture Secretary Conner, will each participate. And as you know, the President will address the meeting on Friday morning.

This is intended to be the first in a series of meetings, the goal of which is to reach agreement during 2008 on a detailed contribution to the U.N. framework convention discussions. One aspect of our collective work will be to seek consensus on a long-term emissions reduction goal, and pathways for achieving that goal. I want to emphasize that the President fully supports the U.N. framework convention process. And it is his view and intent that the major economies initiative will play an important role in advancing that work.

As many of you know, the President believes that technology development will be a key driver for addressing climate change. How best to stimulate, through what mix of policy tools and market mechanisms the development and commercialization of clean energy technologies, and how best to deploy existing technologies will be a subject of much discussion next week as it will be going forward.

And here again, in our view, the responsibilities are common but differentiated. Not every country can afford to invest large sums to develop or acquire technologies. But every country can eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade in clean energy goods and services.

Jim Connaughton will describe the agenda of the meetings in some detail in a minute, but I'd like to make one further point. This major economies process represents a very serious effort by the United States to engage the international community. The composition of the delegations who are coming and the agenda for next week's meeting reflect the President's deeply held conviction that responsible action to address climate change and economic growth go hand in hand. The President rejects the false conflict between economic development and responsible environmental stewardship.

We should not seek to impose on developing countries measures or frameworks that thwart their efforts to meet the legitimate aspirations of their people for better and more prosperous lives. The President is committed to achieving for the United States and helping others to secure both a more prosperous future and a low carbon future. It is only through strong economies that we will be able to sustain the investment necessary to achieve a lasting solution.

And with that, I'd like to turn it over to Jim Connaughton.

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Thank you, Dan. And good morning, everyone. Let me do two things. One, let me lay the foundation for what we're bringing into the meeting. And then I'll walk you through some of the details on the agenda next week -- the meeting will take place on Thursday and Friday.

First, it was all the way back in July of 2001 that the President laid out his overall vision, and that's that his climate change policy is going to be science-based; encourage research breakthroughs that lead to technological innovation; and that will take advantage of the power of markets. It will encourage global participation and will pursue actions that will help ensure continued economic growth and prosperity for our citizens and for citizens throughout the world.

I wanted to start with that because as we looked recently to the Heiligendamm G8 leaders declaration, if you look recently to the APEC leaders declaration, if you look to a series of speeches given by many of the world's leaders during the course of the last 24 months, you'll see echoes of President Bush's original reflections in all of those. This is something that we started a long time ago and it is the dividends of those policies that we're now bringing forward, both domestically and internationally.

Since 2001, the United States under President Bush, on the taxpayer side of things, has funded $37 billion with the programs oriented toward advancing the science and technology as it relates to energy security and climate change.

Last year -- I'm sorry, for the fiscal year 2008 budget alone, we are now seeking $7.4 billion. Of that $7.4 billion, nearly $4 billion is going to be dedicated to technology advancement programs. That is up from less than $3 billion when we started. This is a major increase in funding for technology. And this is not just technology research, which has been important -- and you've seen the initiatives such as the Advanced Energy Initiative, the efforts on batteries, the efforts on hydrogen that we've been pursuing -- but also increasingly leveraging resources toward getting the technologies into the marketplace. The research is only as good as the technologies finding their way into the marketplace.

The other pieces -- the policies are beginning to pay off, and it's not just government policy, but it's also the innovation of our private sector; these go together. Last year, 2006, according to the Energy Information Administration, we saw our CO2 emissions fall as our economy grew. Absolute CO2 emissions went down 1.3 percent. Our CO2 intensity -- that's how much CO2 we emit per unit of economic output -- fell an astounding 4.1 percent. Why is that astounding? The historical average is less than 2 percent per year. So 2006 was a remarkably significant year for energy efficiency and for productivity. And that led to a decline in emissions, associated emissions. And during this period we saw economic growth of nearly 3 percent.

So the features of this outcome last year were, one, a lot of new investment in productivity and efficiency; two, we're seeing a shift in our electricity generation to lower-carbon sources. Our coal plants are becoming more efficient. We added a lot new wind power last year under federal and state policies. And the weather played a role, as well. So we're going to see human actions contributing to success, but the weather contributed, as well. We had cooler summers and we had warmer winters last year, and that helped reduce the electricity load.

Now I lay this as the foundation. Let me now walk you through the elements of the agenda next week. We will have leaders' representatives from 17 nations, 17 major economies, as well as a representative of Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the U.N. We'll be seated around a table supported by three senior officials, each of us -- the three senior officials representing economic, industrial and environmental aspects of our governments. And there will be a cast of thousands. There will be lots of other representatives and technical experts supporting the meeting.

We will have a two-day agenda; five elements on the agenda. First, as Dan Price indicated, we'll be working on the process and principles for reaching agreement on a long-term global goal for reducing emissions. So this is a discussion we will initiate next week. It will take some time to conclude, because historically there's been quite significant resistance to the articulation of such a goal. So this will take some effort.

The second component of the discussion will focus on achieving a common understanding of the current national strategies among all of the major economies for achieving their energy security and emission reduction goals. You have in the handouts a short outline of what is a much longer set of policies and programs that we have implemented in the United States since 2001. These include partnerships -- public-private partnerships, they include a very robust series of mandatory programs, they include billions and billions of dollars of incentive programs, and then a series of technology advancement initiatives.

On the second page of that set of materials, you will see that we've also initiated more than a dozen multilateral technology partnerships and multilateral emission-reduction and energy-security partnerships with various configurations of countries, depending on their particular focus areas.

On the last page of those materials you will see the initiatives that the President has announced since the beginning of this year, which are directed toward domestic policies after 2012. The most notable of this was the one he announced this year in the State of the Union address, which is the effort to reduce our gasoline consumption in America by 20 percent within 10 years. That will also put us on a path to stopping the growth of greenhouse gases from the passenger transportation sector within that period of time.

So this is the kind of thing we'll bring to the table, and each of the other countries will be bringing a similar portfolio. And we'll be looking for alignment of strategies, and we'll also be looking for gaps. The purpose of this exercise is to then focus our effort on national strategies, post-2012, among all the major economies. Each country will have different strategies, but we will try to see where we can find alignment of those where appropriate.

The third component of the meeting will then focus on the most important areas for advancing technology and new practices to reduce greenhouse gases. We need action at all levels of government across all sectors of the economy, but there's some very big areas that require a much more significant global effort. First is finding ways to produce power from fossil fuels, and most significantly coal, without producing C02 emissions. This is the challenge of our time, on this issue. C02 emissions from coal-fired electricity generation will account for nearly 70 percent of the future growth of greenhouse gases globally, and most of that will be in the major emerging countries, the developing countries.

The second most significant future contributor to greenhouse gases is the rise of transportation based on petroleum-based fuels. This is a place where the President has laid the mark for the world with this 20-in-10 initiative. But it is an enormous task to put ourselves on a path for lower-carbon transportation systems.

The third most significant future contributor to greenhouse gases is the currently unsustainable rate of deforestation that's occurring mainly in the major developing countries. And they have acknowledged that. These are the three large future contributors, so we're going to have a focus area on those topics.

The fourth category will be, how do we better accelerate the use of our current portfolio of technologies -- efficiency; nuclear energy, which is a zero-emission source of base load power; wind; and solar, and other forms of renewable energy. So that will be the fourth component of this discussion.

The fourth piece of our agenda will be focusing on financing -- $17 trillion will be spent over the next 20 years on energy and associated systems and services -- how do we orient our financing in a way that produces both better environmental outcomes, as well as better climate change outcomes.

And then finally, we will -- I think probably one of the easiest parts of the discussion -- is work together to see if we can come up with a harmonized system of emissions accounting. Right now we're very good about measuring our national emissions, but each country has a different set of rules on how you measure emissions reductions on a company-by-company or farm-by-farm basis. And we want to see if we can rationalize that system. That's a very technical piece, but actually is the foundation of effective reporting and accounting for what we're achieving.

Out of this we will set the stage for inputs to Bali, which will be the next meeting of the U.N. in December of this year. I think some of this meeting will provide direct guidance into that process. We will continue our meetings as we contribute to this detailed product that we're -- that Dan Price indicated that we hope to achieve during next year, and that should set the stage, as the G8 leaders have committed, to producing an international agreement, under the U.N., by the end of 2009. Not all countries have subscribed to that date yet. That will be a topic of conversation. But the U.S. and our G8 partners have. And so we are looking for a very aggressive schedule of concluding an international outcome.

So I'll stop there.

MS. PERINO: Time for a few questions.

Q I don't think I heard you mention the meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister, is that right? Or is it -- it's just the dual meeting with the Palestinians?

MR. KOZAK: Don't think he's going to be there. So it's just the Middle East meetings or the meetings with the Palestinians and with Tony Blair, who also will be there.

Q Right. Can you just talk a little bit more in detail about what he -- why the dual meeting, and what he's hoping to accomplish there?

MR. KOZAK: I think on all these meetings, of course, you'll see at the end what they actually do end up talking about. And there will be readouts of all of them. My colleagues who do the Middle East will do that at the press center there. But I think the two main themes are, first, we're trying to build up to the -- well, first we're trying to get institutions in the Palestinian territories strengthened. And there's been a lot of work going on. That is what the Quartet is all about and what Tony Blair has been working on. In the two meetings that will be clearly one topic of conversation.

The other, though, is how do you move towards implementation of this vision of two democratic states living next to each other in peace and prosperity, which of course is the goal of this conference that we're working towards -- international conference on the Middle East. So I think it's reasonable to expect that those topics will be out there.

But again, I don't want to try to predict too much what exact subjects -- leaders get together and they tend to talk about what they want to talk about, rather than what their staff thinks they should talk about. And sometimes they're surprised.

Q I just have one other. On the speech, you laid out sort of the broad themes of the whole visit there to the U.N., the bilats and the speech. Is there one particular topic or point that really jumps out of the speech that would be the main message he's trying to bring away?

MR. KOZAK: I think it's -- how all these components of freedom and liberating people from these different constraints on freedom go together and are interrelated. We tend to -- people get focused on one aspect, like trying to help people become free from terror or something, or get their voting rights. But there are these other pieces, too, we work on. But I think this -- what we'll be doing is bringing those together and showing how they -- you kind of can't have one without the other; you need to work on all of these on a single front.

Obviously, some of -- there are situations around the world in which some of these deficits in freedom are pretty -- severely restricted. I mentioned Darfur is one. You've got Burma, which I think, as you know, the First Lady and the President both have spent time on, and I think it would be fair to think that that might be mentioned. But it is a sort of holistic approach to this, rather than zeroing in on one region or one country or something that might have happened.

Yes, ma'am.

Q Jim, what is the United States' policy towards the human rights situation, such as no freedom of religion, no freedom of press, and no freedom of speech in North Korea and China?

MR. KOZAK: Well, as you know, these are topics that the President raises. And I think one of the characteristics of this administration has been to emphasize that you can work on practical short-term relations with a country, and at the same time you can be pursuing religious freedom, political and civil rights, and so on.

Sometimes in the past, people tend to pose these as alternatives; you know, there's a realist foreign policy versus an idealist foreign policy. I think the President has made a pretty strong case -- and it really reflects American policy, or gels American policy, over a long period of time -- that a realist foreign policy must include pushing and prodding and using your influence to try to convince states that don't provide adequate freedoms to their own people, that they need to do so; and helping people in other countries that are themselves struggling for those freedoms.

So you've seen the President speak out on human rights in North Korea. He named a special envoy, Jay Lefkowitz, to work that issue. You've seen that when he meets with the President of China, that's always a topic on the agenda. So it's a subject that gets a lot of address. And I think the meeting that we're having, this democracy and human rights roundtable, is more of the mechanics of how do democratic states do that, and do that effectively; what more can we do to promote freedom in those kinds of countries.

Q The General Assembly speech -- a safe assumption that the President's going to mention Iran, its nuclear program as a threat? And will he specifically talk about Ahmadinejad? Of course, he's going to be at the General Assembly; he's been making the rounds, et cetera.

MR. KOZAK: I would wait for the speech. I wouldn't want to preview that for you. But I'd steer it to the -- that this is really a -- this broader agenda, and not focused on particular sort of crises of the moment. That's not the focus; the focus is more, how do we put these pieces together in the world? Obviously, individual situations have aspects of that, and that they make them up, but --

Q On the climate change conference, are you satisfied with the participants? Is there any country that you feel should be a part of the group -- major polluters -- or do you feel like you have everybody who needs to be present as part of the discussions?

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: We are very satisfied. The level of representation will be very high: leaders' representatives; ministerial, sub-ministerial participation; and then you're talking about a configuration of countries who represent nearly 90 percent of future investment in energy and future greenhouse gas emissions. So we have the bulk of what we need.

Q Looking forward to Bali, Jim and Dan, can you address -- you have support from the United Nations and from all the countries that are coming for the summit that you're going to be holding next week. But they are also looking further to getting binding commitments from developed nations in the post-Kyoto process. Will the United States and Bali engage in the binding discussion?

MR. PRICE: Could I just answer the first part of that question? You characterized the meeting next week as a summit. It's not a summit. It is the first in what we hope will be a series of meetings among major economies. You heard Jim's description of the agenda. Those are not issues you discuss and resolve in two days. We hope to get agreement in these meetings that those are the right issues to be talking about, and agreement on a series of follow-up meetings to drill down on those topics, with a view to making a contribution to the discussions in the U.N. framework.


Q I'm more wondering about Bali and how you're going to --

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: The Bali agenda is actually quite expansive. I'm told there's as many as a hundred agenda items. One of the reasons we're conducting this series of meetings at the major economies level is to bring focus to these very substantial ones.

Bali itself is not going to be the place where we are initially negotiating specific aspects. Bali is a place where we'll begin to outline an agenda for concluding an agreement on the wide range of issues, hopefully by the end of 2009. We would like it to occur that fast. And so all of the issues are going to be on the table. We've had 10 years of experience globally. We have a lot of understanding about what works well. We have a good understanding of what's not working so well. And we have an even clearer understanding of big gaps in global effort, such as some of these technology areas I identified for you.

MS. PERINO: Jim, I think you mean the end of 2008.

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: I'm sorry, well, we're going to have the major economies process come to some conclusion in 2008 to contribute toward an ultimate agreement under the U.N. by the end of 2009.

Q Are China, India, and Brazil all coming?

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Yes, China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa. You're talking about some of the major emerging economies, along with the G8, as well as Australia and South Korea, who are now all OECD economies.

Q It was mentioned, regardless of the stage of economic development of all these countries, that one thing you hoped everyone could agree on is eliminating tariffs on clean energy. Is that something you expect will happen or hope will happen?

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: We've been pleased that in both the G8 leaders declaration and in the APEC leaders declaration the leaders have committed in concept to that occurring. We have a vehicle for that to occur immediately in the Doha Round. One of the chapters of Doha is agreement on potentially more than 150 goods and services to reduce and then eliminate the tariffs. The President said in May that we want Doha to succeed, but if it does not, we still need to eliminate these tariffs on environmental goods and services. That's especially the case as we work to provide more innovative financing for goods and services. It does you no good to provide lower-cost financing if you then raise the cost again through taxes, tariffs and other non-tariff barriers to those goods and services.

MS. PERINO: Let's do one more.

Q Does the U.S. oppose the EU's plan to impose strict tailpipe emissions? And can you discuss the progress of the White House working group on C02 emissions, tailpipe regulations?

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: It's our philosophy that each nation has the sovereign capacity to decide for itself what its own portfolio of policies should be. So Europe should be setting its objectives, just as the United States sets its own objectives.

I would observe on your specific question, the President, in his State of the Union address, has committed to replace 20 percent of gasoline by -- within the next 10 years, and we're doing that for the purposes of improving energy security, and he was very clear it's also for the purposes of reducing greenhouse gasses.

In April of this year, in an executive order, he directed the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator of the EPA to go ahead and try to achieve that through regulations, even as we are waiting on Congress to do that through legislation. It is remarkable -- the President put forward the most aggressive proposal for replacing gasoline last January; he asked Congress to achieve that objective by the summer driving season. Well, school is back in, where's the legislation? We'd like to see legislation, but we're not going to wait for it. We're going to do it through regulation anyway. And so that's a good sign of our own pursuit of this strategy.

MS. PERINO: Thank you.

END 10:47 A.M. EDT