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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 9, 2008
Press Gaggle by Jim Connaughton, Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality; and Dan Price, Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs and Deputy National Security Advisor on Leaders' Meeting of Major Economies
Windsor Hotel Toya Resort and Spa
12:38 P.M. (Local)
MR. PRICE: Good afternoon. We just finished an approximately two-hour-long meeting of the leaders of the major economies. As you know, this was an initiative that was started by President Bush, embraced at Heiligendamm last year. It is the culmination of four meetings of leaders' representatives. I will offer just a couple of observations, and then turn it over to Jim Connaughton, who was the leader's representative -- who is the leader's representative.
As we listened to the leaders around the room there was universal praise for the major economies process. There was universal recognition that having these countries in the room trying to find common ground was an enormous contribution to the U.N. negotiations.
A declaration was adopted, and Jim will go into that. But the most significant take-away from this meeting, in addition to the very substantive leaders' declaration, was the desire of all leaders to continue this process. And indeed, there was agreement to hold another meeting of the leaders of the major economies at next year's summit in Italy.
The meeting concluded not only with that decision, but with specific recognition for the contributions of President Bush, and a round of applause for the President for initiating this process.
With that, let me turn it over to Jim Connaughton.
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Thanks, Dan. What I want to do is just give you the highlights of the decisions that came out of the meeting that will be found in the declaration that is being posted to the web as we speak. We will also have a fact sheet for you -- got anther data swing for you that I'll give you at the end. So first was the overall sense of political purpose.
Okay, we're starting again, and I'm starting from the beginning so nobody back in the file center is going to miss anything. So I want to run through the declaration, the elements of the declaration, and give you a sense of the meeting itself on each of the issues that will be found in the declaration. And as I indicated, we'll have a fact sheet and some other data for you. And all of that is being posted immediately, so that should be available shortly.
First, in addition to the leaders of the 17 major economies, also in attendance was Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the U.N.; and the head of the OECD; and the head of the IEA, which is the International Energy Agency; and Bob Zoellick, the head of the World Bank. So they were also participants in the meeting, not just watchers.
One of the points that President Bush made at the outset of his remarks was the fact this was a historic gathering. In the more than 20 years of climate and energy security discussions, the leaders of the major economies have never assembled before to either discuss past actions or discuss sort of the political impetus going forward. And so one of the important opening sequences in the discussion today -- and you'll see this reflected in the declaration -- was the importance of leader-level involvement in this issue as we go forward, as much for providing political impetus for agreement on climate change, but also to make sure that this is done in a way that addresses and advances the interlink challenges of energy security and sustainable development.
As Dan indicated, the leaders themselves recognize the value of the process that led to this meeting, which was four meetings of their direct personal representatives, and then the fact that we were able to dig into specific elements that can support a new agreement under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change is something that will hope -- substantively provide impetus to an agreement by the end of next year.
The leaders' declaration emphasizes the need for ambitious, realistic, and achievable steps. Each of those is an important component and there was a good discussion around each of those today, beginning with the discussion about the desirability of all the countries to the U.N. process to adopt an ambitious long-term global goal for greenhouse gas emission reduction, and to do so in a way that assures continued growth and prosperity. Importantly, all the leaders today recognized what the G8 also articulated yesterday, that achieving an ambitious long-term goal depends on significant advances in technology and the infrastructure to deliver that technology in all of our countries.
As you know, the G8 had offered the proposal of a 50 percent reduction by 2050. A number of the major emerging economies leaders indicated that that is a goal that they would be interested in exploring further. Other major economies leaders are interested in continuing that discussion, so that is an active point of discussion and we did have a fair amount of back and forth on that and that is now in play.
Q So some of them said it was a good idea that they would explore?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Some of them were prepared to support that at this point. Others were not quite ready to support that and indicated, actually with quite, sort of specific comments on the need to look very closely at the scenarios that have been given to us by the IPCC and by the OECD, and the need to have a much better understanding of the different implications of such a scenario for each country's relative contribution.
Q How many were ready to sign onto it?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Let's see -- so you have the G8 countries, and -- several, I think it would be fair to say. You'll have to check in with each country. I can't speak for them.
Q More than half?
Q A handful?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Several. Several. In the leaders' declaration, then, we talked -- you'll see a reflection of a discussion about the midterm actions, and recall from the Bali Action Plan that was released last December, all the countries agreed on the need to establish a new round of national plans that set midterm goals and produce midterm actions. A step forward on this occurred with respect to the fact that the major developed economies indicated that they're going to take actions in the midterm to halt the growth of their greenhouse gas emissions and achieve absolute emission reductions. And the developing countries for the first time at a leaders' level have indicated that they are going the take actions in the midterm to achieve what is called a deviation from business-as-usual emissions. That's kind of U.N.-speak, but the plain-speak is they're going to significantly slow the growth of their emissions. So if you take a business-as-usual projection, they're going to work to come in below that.
That's going to provide the foundation for discussion really in the coming year -- specific midterm goals of each country. As I indicated yesterday, the European Union, Canada and the U.S. have already articulated national midterm goals. Each of the other major emerging economies is working on a national plan that would include their own description of midterm goals and actions.
Q Which ones were those again?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: It was the EU, Canada and the United States. But we know that each of the major economies have already initiated cabinet-level processes for doing midterm plans. Mexico, Korea -- India just announced a report of the progress of their cabinet committee just last week. So these discussions are well underway.
Let me make one observation about that, by the way. Something different now is that each country is doing a bottom-up analysis of what they can achieve. Back in 1997, it was a top-down approach; countries strove to reach agreement on overall targets, but had not done the groundwork as to how they would actually be achieved at the domestic level. We think that the catalyst that this major economies meeting has provided for each country to do the bottom-up work is going to give us greater confidence in commitments as we go to next year.
One of the open questions is the manner in which these midterm strategies will be reflected in a new international agreement. Recall yesterday the G8 had indicated the importance of all the major economies having their national strategies bound in a new international agreement. In today's document you will see that the major emerging economies have agreed that their national strategies will be reflected in the new international agreement. And so between the words "bound" and "reflected" there's going to be some discussion as to the nature of those commitments next year -- but really a step toward each other on that point, which is very good.
There's also discussion in the midterm about actions to reduce net emissions from deforestation and from forest degradation. This is very important because it has been estimated that up to 20 percent of the emissions problem is from deforestation and unsustainable land use. And that is now squarely on the agenda as part of the collective contribution of countries to taking action, in addition to reducing greenhouse gases from industrial activity and power generation and transportation.
The third component -- so we've talked about long-term goals, we've talked about midterm strategies -- the third component are the things we've now agreed to do together. When President Bush launched this initiative the one topic on the table was working together to try to reduce barriers to trade in climate-friendly technologies. We also talked about the need for a more effective measurement system so we can responsibly measure emissions and fairly measure emissions from country to country, including the major developing countries.
Well, as a result of that discussion, actually, we now have a long list of near-term actions that we're going to take. In fact, it was at the last meeting in Seoul that that list was significantly expanded, and that, in our view, is a real sign of the confidence in this process.
So first on the list is a much closer cooperation on technology development. We've tended in the past to do technology development within each of our countries and not do very much in cooperation with each other. And this is something thematically President Bush introduced last year in his remarks to the major economies in September, and we're pleased that we're able to get a program of work going forward on that.
In addition, we're going to be exploring what are called sectoral approaches. So these are activities where we get the major power-generation sector together in each of our countries, to begin to exchange best practices and opportunities for investment in cleaner technologies. And that could also include forestry; it could include consideration of some large industries.
Q Is this like utility companies getting together and --
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: We've done a trial run on this with something called the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which was created in 2006, and has the seven countries of India and China, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Canada and the U.S., where we have eight sectors identified and we actually do a major exchange. Engineers are going back and forth to each other's countries trying to figure out how to make power from coal more efficiently, for example.
Q What are some of the other sectors?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: We have power generation, steel, aluminum, cement, buildings and appliances. One of the biggest increases in America's emissions is due to more buildings, more people in service-based jobs in bigger buildings using more electrical gizmos. So that's one of the areas that's in the Asia Pacific Partnership. We'll be suggesting some of these areas for the purposes of now the broader discussion among the major economies.
Q So they get together and trade notes for best management practices?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Well, also investment opportunities, and often it's -- a lot of our countries -- we have engineers who are "show me" people; they won't buy it until they see it and know how it works. Well, this is the opportunity to do that at a level of public-private interaction that has not occurred before.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the value of that, in particular, because it is a bottom-up way for countries to help design their own national plans.
The leaders will -- have agreed to direct their trade officials, who are responsible for the WTO Doha negotiations, to advance with urgency their discussions on climate-related issues in the trade context, with an emphasis on eliminating trade barriers to the spread of clean energy technologies. This is a very challenging discussion. It is one of the overlooked and very positive aspects of the Doha negotiations. So there's a real opportunity for us to allow more trade from the developed world to the developing world, but also from the developing world back to us as we seek to significantly cut our own emissions. So there's a real opportunity here for two-way trade that is currently significantly impeded by very high tariffs, especially in the developing countries.
Finally, we are going to try to build on the success of a major agreement that we reached last year under the Montreal Protocol, which is the treaty that deals with ozone-depleting substances, where we got China and India and other developing countries to join with the developed countries to phase out what are called HCFCs -- these are refrigerants. As it happens, they're also potent greenhouse gases. That one agreement alone will reduce more greenhouse gases than the Kyoto Protocol. And we've agreed we're going to look at further opportunities under that treaty to make progress on climate change as well.
Finally, the leaders collectively made a strong statement on the desire to conclude a new agreement by the end of next year in the U.N. in Copenhagen, and they recognized in deciding to agree to meet in the middle of next year -- they recognized the importance of high-level-leader political impetus to getting a deal done by the end of next year.
Q The leaders would meet --
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Yes, the leaders would meet again at the time of the G8 next year. So Prime Minister Berlusconi offered that at the suggestion of Chancellor Merkel, and the leaders collectively agreed that that would be a useful thing to do.
The one handout I wanted to give you, because there's always discussion about how every country is doing, the question also is about what the Bush administration has accomplished with respect to climate change, so I'm going to give you a U.N. base chart, that's data from the U.N. that shows the changes in net greenhouse gas emissions in each of the major economies. You may find it interesting -- I do -- that the U.S. had the second-best performance in reducing greenhouse gas emissions of the 17 major economies since President Bush took office. The U.S. had a very significant increase of emissions between 1990 and 2000, but since President Bush took office we actually had a 3 percent net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, even as we enjoyed good economic growth.
France was number one, by the way. And I'll just give you the list and you can see it -- and this is based on U.N. data.
Q Is there anything that happened today that will lock these countries into moving forward, and not just leaving the status quo? Is it more than just talk?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Yes, one of the leaders made the point toward the end of the meeting that this joining together of these countries is now irreversible. And I think the leaders -- the tone of the meeting itself was a recognition that this group of leaders has to stay together and begin to find further ways to cooperate.
One of the non-G8 leaders said very clearly that the buck stops with us -- the "us" being the leaders of all the major economies.
Q Who said that?
Q Did he say that in English? I'm just curious.
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: I'll have to leave it to respective countries to speak on behalf of their leaders.
The other piece that binds, if you will, is the fact that this set of meetings, and then the commitments that flow from it, require us to work together. So we don't have to -- we won't go back, if you will, to our climate negotiators only negotiating climate text; we now have active work on climate-related trade issues, active work on sectoral approaches. There's going to be a very intensive exchange on the clean technology fund that was welcomed by all of the leaders. And then as we develop national plans and strategies, there's much more international exchange on providing each other advice on the programs and strategies that each of us are implementing.
I had a half-hour hallway conversation the night before last with a senior representative of a major developed country who is very eager to know how we were doing our fuel economy standards and how we have set the criteria for our renewable fuel standards because they're considering doing the same thing. We have never had that kind of discussion before. And you're seeing similar programs being developed in the major emerging economies.
So at this point, I think it is fair to say that we are all very well interlinked, and there's no getting away from it.
Q Jim, of the countries that did not -- were not ready to sign on just yet, what do they say as to why they're not ready?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Well, I think context is important for this, first. Prior to last May, when the President suggested that all these countries should get together, the operating procedure was to have our climate negotiators, along with 190 of their counterparts, working these issues through the U.N. And so we introduced a lot of agenda at the time of the G8 under Chancellor Merkel for this major economies discussion. In less than nine months, we have produced an agenda for action that does have forward movement on every single point.
The issues that we're debating are the toughest ones of the climate negotiating process. And the fact that we've gotten -- the G8 has taken steps forward in every category, and the major emerging economies have taken steps forward in every category -- as we work to find convergence, what we've achieved in nine months has actually been pretty remarkable if you measure it in climate negotiation time.
Q Of those who hesitated, though, what did they say? What was -- what did they say as a reason for their hesitation?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Many of the concepts are new and just require further national development and consensus-building. So for example, the long-term goal was a brand new item for discussion, suggested at the time of the G8 last year and taken up conceptually for the first time in Bali in December. And so every country wants a sense of, if we're going to be very ambitious, which all leaders now want to be, what does it mean with respect to each of our relative levels of effort.
And so thinking about the long-term goal applies a certain -- implies a certain level of effort in the midterm. And if countries have not proceeded far enough in their national planning, it's difficult for them to agree on a number before they have a sense of what they're capable of doing in the midterm.
Q So they're saying they might -- it might wreck their economy?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: No, they actually want to be sure that they can take the steps in ways that won't wreck their economy. Every leader made clear, and there were some pretty emphatic statements, that it is essential to pursue strategies that will continue strong economic growth, because it is only through strong economic growth that you can have the resources to pay for the technologies that make the solution possible. And that was a common refrain among all the leaders, developed and developing alike.
Q Do you get the impression that these other countries are going to be there in Italy, or that they're going to decide that they just can't do this?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: I have high confidence that this meeting will occur next year and it will be successful in advancing the political impetus necessary to get a deal at the end of next year. All of the specific numbers -- the long-term goal, the midterm goals -- those will ultimately be decided at the U.N. Convention at the end of next year, but there are things that countries can do with respect to their own national statements that can help provide some hope for a good outcome at the end of next year.
So I think between now and the meeting next year, I would expect that most if not all of the major economies will have clearly articulated their national strategies, and they'll begin to sort of -- all the countries will then sort of look at each other's and check to see how ambitious they are, check to see how realistic they are, and I think there will be a lot of technical exchange, just to make sure that everybody is carrying forward with a reasonable level of ambition, realism, and achievability. So I think that will be one of the core tests for next year.
Q Can I try once more with respect on that "several" word -- does it mean three or six or half of them, or -- can you just be a little more specific on "several"? I don't know what "several" means.
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Three or four. But there are different shadings to their contribution on the point. So that's -- and so some countries are not ready to do that yet; other countries are ready to explore it a little more closely. All of them have agreed that we must have a long-term goal. All of them agreed the goal needs to be ambitious. And you'll see specifically in the declaration, we are pointing to consideration of the ambitious IPCC scenarios for cutting emissions. This is the U.N. assessment document that provides about 170, I think, scenarios for cutting emissions, but there's a sub-list of that that have the more aggressive pathways to stabilize emissions. And that's what we'll be looking at.
MS. PERINO: Last one for him.
Q The only thing I'm a little fuzzy on still is the G8 set up a long-term goal and then these guys said that they might be able to sign onto that. And then what they said about their midterm goals wasn't exactly specific, and there was no specific on the G8 on the midterm either. Is that the right --
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Yes, I think if you're particularly enterprising you'll be able to lay the G8 document and this document side by side, and what you'll find is on each of the issues we discussed, the G8 has taken a significant step forward in its level of ambition. And on each issue, you'll see the major emerging economies have taken a step forward toward that from where they started. We are not in complete convergence yet, but we are -- they -- we've have found a way to have a dialogue to accomplish that.
As the person who was in these meetings, many, many, many hours of meetings, we really had to spend a lot of time on understanding each other's national circumstances before we could even begin to get into the details of some of these things. That has now occurred, and I think that's what gave the leaders the confidence to say, let's keep this process going.
You may recall when we first announced it, it was met with great suspicion. Then we had the successful outcome in the U.N. meetings in Bali. And then -- now you have Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, other international observers, including leading NGOs, including presidential candidates, who have suggested the importance of keeping this group of leaders talking. So we've come a long way in a short period of time.
Q Given the fact that you all have said that the major economies have to be a part of this process in going forward and making these kinds of commitments, do you feel you're walking away from this meeting having sufficient support, et cetera, to move forward within the U.S. rubric?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: As you all know, there are few items in the area of climate change in which our political spectrum is nearly universally unified. One of them is the fact that all the major economies have to make commitments that are binding in a new international agreement. And that was the test of the Byrd-Hagel resolution before Kyoto, which was 95 to 0; that remains the test of the Senate, even in the last Senate debate on this issue, that progress can only be achieved in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and addressing long-term temperature trends if all the major economies with the most emissions are taking on new commitments.
We have taken a significant step in that direction with the language in today's declaration. The G8 for the first time has been unified in its expression of the fact that all countries' national actions need to be bound into an international agreement. And I think that provides a good platform for trying to come together on that point by the end of next year.
Q Is there something, is there another benchmark that President Bush himself needs to do between now and the last just under 200 days left in office?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Well, we have a very intensive discussion with our Congress about providing funding for the new clean energy technology fund. We're seeking $2 billion for that. We've lined up a little bit north of $5 billion from several other countries, but we have this donors group I talked about that's several dozen countries that are interested in participating. One of the questions the Congress will have is, if we're going to provide this funding, is it going to be in support of real commitments by the countries receiving it? I think we've made a significant stride in that respect, and -- think this will provide a basis for some give and take on that point.
Q And the total figure on that is?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: The total figure right now, it's $5 billion. Bob Zoellick reinforced the fact today that that will then be used to leverage other development financing, as well as private sector financing. And I think the number in the G8 text -- is Dan still here?
MS. PERINO: No.
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: I think the number that the G8 text has is consideration of about $100 billion in total that will begin to flow.
Q That sounds --
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: That's a lot of money. That's a lot of money -- and largely through private enterprise, which is good as well.
Q Are there meetings or other things like that that he plans in the last --
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Yes. Well, Secretary Paulson is going to be pushing hard to conclude the build-out of this clean technology fund. Doha -- we have the trade barrier -- the tariff elimination proposals in Doha for climate-friendly technologies. That would be one of the earliest signs of good faith, that we're serious about this issue, because why on earth are we -- there are some countries imposing tariffs as high as 70 percent on the technologies that allow them not only to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, but cut the air pollution that's currently creating huge health problems for their people.
So that's an example of how -- that would be an indicator of how serious a number of the major emerging economies actually treat the climate and sustainable development issue.
MS. PERINO: And that ministerial is July 21st, I think.
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Yes, in three -- in a couple of weeks.
MS. PERINO: The Doha ministerial.
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: And then finally, watch for the setting up of these sectoral discussions. And I think we're going to get a lot of support from the U.N. for that, to make that happen. So if we can expand what we've been doing on the Asia Pacific Partnership to a broader grouping of countries, that would be another good sign that people are ready to roll up their sleeves and actually start working on practical action, and move beyond sort of the negotiating positions.
Q I'm sorry, I was just -- I'm good, I guess.
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Okay.
Q Thank you.
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: And here are your --
MS. PERINO: You can send that up to --
Q It looks like people got an e-mail --
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Oh, you did?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Okay.
Q Are there copies of this?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Yes. I have copies for each of you.
MS. PERINO: And then I have a -- I said I would get back to you on a question you had this morning regarding our negotiations with Iraq.
Q This is still being fed, right?
MS. PERINO: Yes, this is still being fed. You don't have to write furiously.
This is in regards to the negotiations we're having with the Iraqis and how we want to respond is in the following: The recent Iraqi statements that you've seen that reflect the ongoing negotiations between the United States and Iraq we believe reflect the recent positive developments in Iraq, including the area of security, where Iraqi forces are currently in the lead in, for example, Basra, Mosul, and Sadr City -- places that were in horrible shape security-wise just a little while ago, but because of proactive actions they've improved so tremendously.
We also believe that the comments coming from the Iraqis are an indication of the Iraqi government's and the Iraqi security force's increasing capacity and the improving conditions on the ground for them to be able to take on more responsibility. This should allow for more what we've called return on success for our forces. A sovereign Iraqi government and the Iraqi people are every day more ready, willing, and able to take on more of their responsibility, and that is exactly what we've been working for. That's been our objective from the beginning.
So the strategic framework agreement that we are working on would describe the political, economic, security and then diplomatic relationships that we would establish with -- between our two nations going forward.
Increasingly, the Iraqis, as you've seen in those three places I've mentioned, such as Basra, Mosul, and Sadr City, they are taking over combat missions. That's one of the things that we want so that we can transition our forces to more overwatch, training, and counterterrorism activities. And that, again, allows us more return on success, because we can further reduce our combat troops and have our forces then focused on some of those other areas.
We have always been opposed, and remain so, to an arbitrary withdrawal date. We believe that, as we've said before, that any actual troop withdrawal schedule needs to be based on conditions on the ground. And we believe the Iraqis agree with us in that regard. We want a sovereign Iraq to be able to take on more of its own security, more responsibility, and we have been able to talk to them about some aspirational time frames for some of those activities, such as taking over the security control in some of the provinces, like you've seen in some of the areas. And hopefully soon we'll be turning over that security control in the area of Anbar.
And so these ideas for aspirational time frames are something that our negotiators, led by Ryan Crocker, Ambassador Crocker, in Baghdad, will continue to work on as we work to conclude this round of negotiations.
MS. PERINO: I believe Gordon got a comment out on that. I think that in regards in the comments this morning that we heard out of Russia regarding the missile defense system, let me point you back to what the President and President Medvedev said in their meeting on Monday -- I think that was Monday of this week.
The President said that we want to work together with the Russians and the Europeans on a joint partnership where we would be designing a system together and we would be working as equal partners, because our concept for a missile defense system is not aimed at Russia. And the President repeated that to President Medvedev, again recognizing that we have rogue -- possible threats from rogue nations, such as Iran, that the Europeans and the Russians would want to protect against, and noting that our missile defense system as conceived would be absolutely dwarfed by any type of military stockpiles that Russia has.
And so the President and President Medvedev agreed to continue to have this discussion, and we will do that. But we are very pleased that Secretary Rice was able to sign that agreement yesterday.
Q What do you think caused Russia to make that --
MS. PERINO: I think, Roger, I think you need to look back that they've said similar things before out of the Foreign Ministry.
Q Well, they've just -- hometown consumption or --
MS. PERINO: Well, no, I am not -- I don't question their thoughts and I know that some people in Russia have -- believe that a missile defense system would be a threat to their country. We've sought to reassure them that it would not be, and one of the ways that we've done that is to say, let's work together in a joint partnership, design the system together, have a mutual system where we're all working together to protect us from threats from rogue nations.
Q I guess I just thought -- you know, they just met a few days ago, like you said, and then the Foreign Ministry --
MS. PERINO: Well, I don't think --
Q -- comes out with this --
MS. PERINO: Feelings that run deep like that don't necessarily change overnight. And as I said, I think that the comments from that ministry have been similar in the past.
Q So you don't take it seriously -- or, well --
MS. PERINO: I wouldn't say we don't take it seriously, but I think that what's more important is what President Bush and President Medvedev said together here, that there was a desire to work together in a cooperative effort.
Q And there was never any mention by the Russian President of any kind of military retaliation if such a system is built?
MS. PERINO: Not as I recall it, no. I think I would remember it if it had, and I don't recall it that way at all.
Q Has the President talked to -- going back to Iraq for a minute -- did the President talk to Prime Minister Maliki? Does the White House see --
MS. PERINO: Since he's been on this trip? No. No, he just spoke to him right before we left. I can't remember what day we left, but the President had a secure video teleconference with Prime Minister Maliki -- I believe it was last Thursday. And so they talk regularly, and then Ambassador Crocker, who is leading our negotiations, checks in with the President daily almost.
Q Dana, this is I think two days now in which at first there were comments that suggested the Iraqis wanted a firm timetable for withdrawal, and now they've come out and said it more explicitly.
MS. PERINO: I think that what you -- I think that is a reflection of, first and foremost, the positive developments that we've seen recently in Iraq, but in addition to that the negotiations are intensifying. And so it's not unusual when that happens to have more vocal statements. And this is, again, looking at Iraq and where -- how far they've come in a year, this is politics and this is negotiations and this is about their future. And they want to take on more of their own responsibility -- and we want that, too. We just want them to be able to do that in a way that is sustainable, to make sure that the gains that they have made are solidified and cemented in a way that they can continue to improve, and then become a thriving, prosperous, and democratic nation.
Q I have one more of Jim.
Q I'm sorry, can I -- if I can remember what it was -- (laughter) -- oh, is the end of July still the goal? Sorry.
MS. PERINO: We've talk -- we're working towards that, but as we don't have timetables for troop withdrawals, we don't have timetables for negotiations. But we want to be able to try to work this out quickly.
And the main reason that we want this is because our troops are going to be there past the end of this year; that's a fact. It's also a fact that the U.N. mandate that governs our troops there will also expire -- I'm sorry, will expire, and so we need a legal mechanism to make sure that our troops have -- understand the rules of engagement and -- but we also lay out with the Iraqis the way forward. And we can talk about some time frames with them in terms of turning over the security control to a province such as Anbar, which a year ago I don't think anybody in this room would have thought possible, but because of their incredible gains they've been able to do that. And so they want to move forward. We want to help them, but we want to do so in a way that we make sure it's sustainable.
You had one more for Jim.
Q I know that the White House thinks that just getting all these people at the table on the climate is a victory in itself. Is there anything that the President was disappointed that he didn't get, that they didn't achieve at that -- in the meeting today? Were there any little elements that he had wished they would have signed onto and --
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: The President had several very aggressive proposals. Last May he was seeking to eliminate tariffs by the end of last year. That's how aggressive he was, and thought the world community should be, because he questioned why any country would be putting up -- making it more expensive to buy the clean technologies that you need. So there's an example.
As you know, the President made clear last year, and in the State of the Union this year, that we were very interested in a strong statement of political commitment by each country that they were -- in principle would have their commitments bound into an international agreement. Many countries have made that commitment, including many non-G8 countries. I guess that's another "several," by the way.
There were -- President Calderón was already publicly on record at the time of the North American leaders' statement as making clear -- even though they are not what's called an Annex I country; they are not a country under the Kyoto Protocol that has obligations -- that he fully intends to have a national plan, and that he fully intends to have that plan reflected in internationally binding commitments. So he's publicly on record with respect to that.
Several other countries indicated that they were willing to consider that, too. Other countries have been more cautious. So would we have liked to see an even stronger statement on that point for the major emerging economies? The answer to that is, yes.
Q On which part?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: On the commitment in principle to have your national plans be bound into a new international agreement -- in part not just because we think it's important as a sign of confidence globally, but as you know, our Senate has made very clear that's a very important precondition to the U.S. joining a new international agreement. And so a clearer statement on that sooner would have been better. We got a strong statement on it that we think we can build on.
MS. PERINO: Okay. See you guys on the plane, I guess, most of you.
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: We got more than we imagined on the near-term actions. That was the other thing. That was a happy surprise.
Q "Got more" -- say that again.
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: We got more than we imagined or called for on the near-term actions, and that was a happy surprise.
Q Is it like those best management --
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Yes, the Montreal Protocol issues, the best management practices --
Q -- those four items.
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Yes. And you'll see in the leaders' declaration there is a series of more -- on forestry -- there's a whole list of them, and I gave you the highlights.
Q And you wished you would have gotten more countries to say that they want their national plans bound into the U.N. agreement?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Yes. We knew going in no country --
Q How many do you have now?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: First of all, nobody expected that any country would state their targets now. That was never the expectation. We knew that those would be negotiated by the end of next year. But we thought we could get a stronger statement in principle from some of the major emerging economies -- not thought -- we were hoping. As I said, we got a good step forward on that. That language is consequential that says that they intend to have their national plans reflected in a new agreement. That is a very consequential statement. It is not as strong a statement as the G8 called for yesterday.
Q But you're looking for the targets perhaps next year?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: The targets will all get worked out by the end of next year. I think a number of countries will pre-declare, like the U.S. has and like Canada and Europe has, but ultimately those get worked out.
Q These are the midterm targets?
CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: The midterm targets -- at the 2020 to 2030 time frame.
MS. PERINO: I think one thing to think about when you look at this is that for the G8 countries, the major developed countries that were going to be involved in the Kyoto Protocol, we've been talking about these issues within our countries for a long time, and over a decade or so -- well, maybe not quite a decade, but around that. So these debates are robust, they are healthy, they can get very tense, they're complex. And so for us, we've been doing this for 10 years. Some of these developing countries that weren't going to be a part of the Kyoto Protocol -- which is one of the reasons we didn't join because it wouldn't solve the problem -- a lot of these debates haven't been fully fleshed out in their capitals yet and they need to go back and continue to do that. So that's why I think that we have made significant progress in a year. They've come a long way and a lot farther and a lot faster than we did in several years.
Okay. I'll see you guys later. We have to give the President his room back.
END 1:23 P.M. (Local)