Department Of State "Greening Diplomacy" Earth Day Event With Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton; Undersecretary Of State For Management Patrick Kennedy; Nancy Sutley, Chair, White House Council On Environmental Quality; Todd Stern, State Department Special Envoy For Climate Change
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MR. KENNEDY: Good afternoon and happy Earth Day. Members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished visitors from throughout the U.S. government, fellow State Department employees, today is an important day and one that deserves the attention of us all.
Earth Day was founded in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson to establish national grass-roots movements dedicated to addressing environmental and sustainability issues. Today, Earth Day is a global event celebrated here in the United States and many other countries around the world.
We are here today to demonstrate our continued commitment as an organization and as individuals to acknowledge and respond to 21st century environmental challenges. I thank each of you and every one of you for coming and for being a part of this commitment.
With me today are some very special guests. Not only do we have our own department and USAID employees, but, as I have mentioned, we also have our colleagues from the diplomatic corps.
We are also delighted to have the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, the Honorable Nancy Sutley, as well as the State Department's own special envoy for climate change, Todd Stern. And we look forward to having Secretary Clinton join us in a moment, as she has just returned from Capitol Hill.
Thank you all for coming.
Our first speaker today is the Honorable Nancy Sutley. Ms. Sutley leads the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Prior to that, she served as the deputy mayor for energy and environment for the city of Los Angeles and was appointed by the mayor to the board of directors for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
She developed wind and solar programs at the Department of Water and Power, an initiative to replace thousands of diesel trucks in the Los Angeles-Long Beach port area with cleaner burning ones and supervised L.A.'s "Million Trees" planting program.
She has also served at the Environmental Protection Agency during the administration of President Clinton. We are honored to have her here today. Please join me in welcoming Chairman Sutley. (Applause.)
MS. SUTLEY: Thank you, Pat, very much for the introduction. And thank you to the State Department for inviting me to be here to share in your Earth Day celebration. And very pleased to see so many members of the diplomatic corps. Certainly, issues of the environment affect all of us, no matter where we live on this planet.
I'm grateful to be here to talk with you on Earth Day, to talk about the leadership role the federal government can play in creating the new clean economy.
And as chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, I'm very pleased to hear about all that you're doing here at the Department of State.
As I am sure you know, President Obama is committed to a fundamentally new environmental and energy policy in America and in the world; a policy based on science, with the fundamental principle that a strong, sustainable economy and a healthy environment go hand- in-hand. The president understands that investments in clean energy, energy efficiency and conservation will help reduce greenhouse gas pollution and protect the planet. His bold plan invests in clean energy, creates new green jobs and will protect the earth and our communities from the impacts of global warming. He's also committed to playing a leadership role in the international processes to address environmental challenges, including climate change.
The president also recognizes that the federal government itself has a major impact on the environment and the economy through its basic activities, including leasing space, purchasing buildings and goods and services, and how the federal government consumes energy. In fact, here in the United States, the federal government is the single largest energy user and the single largest landlord in the country. This presents the federal government with an opportunity to lead by example and to create new markets for clean and green services and products.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act authorizes the General Services Administration to invest $5.5 billion in federal public building projects, including $4-1/2 billion to transform federal facilities into high-performance, energy-saving buildings; $75 million to renovate and construct new federal offices and courthouses; and $300 million to construct and renovate border stations. These investments will create jobs, the needed repairs and modernization of federal buildings. It'll also improve their energy efficiency, resulting in long-term savings to the federal budget through lower energy bills, as well as allowing the federal government to show some leadership in reducing greenhouse gas pollution.
And I know the State Department reaches well beyond our nation's borders and has an international reach and international opportunities to help make the federal government cleaner and greener.
Other environmental and energy goals are in place and established by executive orders issued by several presidents. Currently, under executive order, federal agencies are required to improve their energy efficiency, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, use renewable sources of energy and conserve natural resources. CEQ is currently working with many federal agencies to develop a new executive order on government sustainability that will go even further; that will more closely integrate federal greening actions and set new goals for energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy, the purchase of fuel- efficient cars, water conservation, and encourage overall sustainability.
So I am very pleased, again, to be here. And to look forward -- and I look forward to working with the State Department and everyone represented here to not just celebrate Earth Day one day a year, but to celebrate the spirit of Earth Day throughout the year. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. KENNEDY: Thank you very much, Chairwoman Sutley, for that excellent overview of President Obama's commitment to greening the United States government.
Here at the State Department, we are committed to doing our part, and we recognize that how we incorporate environmental sustainability into the State Department's daily operations is of concern to our global partners overseas as well as domestically. Hopefully, many of you were able to stop by the exhibit hall earlier today to see some of the exciting green initiatives the department has already undertaken.
I've noticed a remarkable evolution in how we approach sustainability. When I joined the State Department, conversations about solar panels or cleaner vehicles -- or, more unimaginably, biodegradable foodservice products -- would have been met with a blank stare. Today, the enthusiasm to go green is everywhere. From summer interns to seasoned managers, great ideas are pouring in and being implemented. I'd like to highlight a few of those here today before Secretary Clinton shares her thoughts about how we take this encouraging trend to the next level.
We've made some significant progress in our facilities. Our managers around the world and in the United States are continually seeking ways to improve energy efficiencies and use environmentally sustainable resources. The National Visa Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, alone has realized a savings of over $4.1 million annually due to increased efficiency and modernization. For example, it is implementing web-based processing.
In addition, the National Visa Center will be the first State Department facility to receive the Green Globes environmental certification for an existing building. This prestigious award status from the Green Building Initiative recognizes building practices that result in energy efficiency, healthier and environmentally sustainable buildings. The Green Buildings Initiative is recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, and we are honored to receive this award.
The EPA and the Department of Energy also recognize two of our domestic buildings, the Diplomatic Security building in Rosslyn and the National Visa Center, with its EnergyStar certification, signifying excellence in energy performance and efficiency.
In addition, multiple State Department facilities are seeking either Green Globes certification or the equivalent LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED and the Leadership in Energy and Developmental Design is the internationally recognized certification for the design, construction and operation of high- performance green buildings.
Our Overseas Buildings Operations office now requires all its new embassies and consular building projects to be LEED-certified.
In 2007, the new embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, was the first U.S. diplomatic mission to receive LEED certification. And in 2008, our new embassy in Panama received its LEED certification.
Domestic facilities are also on their way, with new office building annexes scheduled to open this summer, across C Street from the Harry S Truman Building, and which will be LEED-certified.
In addition to LEED certification, there are several greening efforts that incorporate principles of sustainable design and energy efficiency into our operations.
For example, there are photovoltaic panels producing electricity for the U.S. Mission in Geneva. And we have solar, hot-water and photovoltaic panels on the department's regional center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
These systems have reduced energy consumption by nearly 8 percent annually and have also received recognition by the Department of Energy. Many of you may not be aware of what is happening right here in Washington, D.C., in terms of recycling waste.
The Harry Truman Building alone recycles nearly 2,000 tons annually. We have also recycled over 80 percent of the waste generated in selected warehouses in the Washington, D.C., area.
In fact as we renovate this building, we are recycling or reusing over 75 percent of all construction and demolition waste. An issue of concern to many is the cafeteria. So let me give you a brief update.
We took a small but significant step when we started selling new, reusable coffee mugs in the cafeteria and the Foggy Bottom coffee shop. I am pleased that so many of you decided to support this effort, so much so that they sold out immediately. But they are now again available for sale.
The cafeteria is also undergoing a scheduled renovation next year. As it does this, you will see several noticeable changes. Most obvious and one that, I think, you will be pleased with is the transition to 100-percent compostable, disposable serviceware, glasses and plates.
The department is also using energy-saving performance contracts to achieve sustainability success. This enables us to finance facility-efficiency upgrades, through each greening project's generated cost savings.
Last year, we initiated an energy-saving performance contract to reduce energy consumption here and at our Beltsville (Maryland) Information Management Center. And just a few months ago, we requested letters of interest from 16 energy-performance-saving contractors, to pursue projects in Conakry, San Salvador and Santiago.
And one last area I wanted to highlight is our expanding domestic green fleet. Last year, the department purchased 156 alternative-fuel vehicles, exceeding the mandated requirement by almost 500 percent.
And we also added 7 hybrid vehicles into our domestic fleet. As our green fleet expands, our petroleum-fuel consumption decreases. And last year, the department reduced its fuel consumption by 25 percent.
I am proud of our greening efforts thus far. But at the same time, I realize that we can and must do more.
Embracing environmental stewardship and sustainability are not a choice, but rather a responsibility for us in the department and as individuals. And I'm asking and calling on every one of you to participate in this endeavor.
It is now my pleasure to introduce someone who is also passionate about the environment and climate change, Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern. Mr. Stern is the administration's chief climate negotiator and plays a central role in developing the U.S. international policy on climate. He is the lead participant in development of climate and clean energy policy and participates in all energy-related policy discussions that impact carbon emissions.
MR. STERN: (Applause.) Thank you very much, Pat. Thank you for -- thank you for your leadership also on the Greening Diplomacy initiative. Thank all of you for coming here today, particularly our colleagues from the diplomatic corps. Very impressive turnout.
Special thanks to Secretary Clinton for being here with us to celebrate Earth Day. It started out a rainy Earth Day, but it makes the Earth greener, anyway. I think there's some sunshine out there now somewhere.
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. That is absolutely not where they lived up until that time.
Now, 13 years later, Secretary Christopher's vision has taken hold. Thanks to Secretary Clinton, the environment, and particularly the global climate change crisis, is front and center in U.S. diplomacy. In Secretary Clinton's words, a world in crisis goes well beyond the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink. It is at once an environmental, economic, energy and national security issue with grave implications for America's and the world's future.
There is no question any more that the United States and the world must take urgent and bold action to combat climate change. The science is clear and the threat is real. There's also no question that the president and the secretary of State are up to meeting this challenge, and they are supported by a world-class team, many of whom are sitting here with us today in this auditorium or are watching in our embassies abroad.
The United States must lead on this issue, and we will. We have already taken bold action here at home, and we will continue to develop a comprehensive climate and energy plan that will create millions of jobs while cutting greenhouse gases.
While we are developing the necessary steps to combat climate change here at home, we are also actively reaching out and listening to our partners abroad. I've talked already, probably, to more than 30 countries in the time that I've been here. The United States cannot solve the climate change crisis alone, and the administration is committed to charting a cooperative pathway to a low-carbon economy.
Secretary Clinton has a long history as a leader in the fight against climate change. As senator, she championed increased investment in alternative energy technologies and helped pioneer new strategies for harnessing clean energy as an engine of economic growth. In New York she worked with public and private partners to create green jobs and support innovative projects. For example, she helped develop the City of Rochester's Greenprint program, a first-in- the-nation urban plan for environmentally sustainable growth, alternative energy production and job creation.
She supported key investments to build cleaner engines in school buses and other heavy vehicles for use -- for -- using technology developed in Corning, New York. And she fought for and passed legislation to create green jobs programs and to push federal government -- the federal government to install green building technologies.
In New York, in the Senate, and as she traveled all over the country, Senator Clinton was a compelling voice for charting a new clean-energy future that strengthens both our environment and our economy.
And now, as our nation's top diplomat, she has elevated climate and energy to a central place in U.S. foreign policy. I must say I saw this firsthand when I joined Secretary Clinton on her inaugural trip to Asia. We made stops in Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China, and there in meetings with presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, business leaders, students and NGOs, she made climate change a core part of our agenda, and that emphasis, I must say, was enthusiastically received.
As so many of you know here in this room, climate change is a -- an enormously important issue abroad and seen that way; we are working hard to make it that way here in the United States as well. But it is an -- a profoundly important issue all over the world.
As a nation and as a world community, we have the opportunity and the challenge now to make history. With the leadership of President Obama and that of Secretary Clinton, I am confident that we will rise to that challenge.
Today it is my great privilege and pleasure to introduce one of these distinguished leaders. Ladies and gentlemen, our own secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. (Applause.)
SEC. CLINTON: Thank you. Oh, thank you. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.
Well, I am absolutely delighted to be here on Earth Day, and especially to be with my colleagues from the State Department and USAID and so many who are representing the diplomatic missions of the countries that are here in Washington, D.C., with whom we interact on such a regular basis.
Obviously this is a special time to think about what more we can do on behalf of these issues that are so critical to how we care for this planet we share and what kind of future we will bequeath to our children.
I want to thank Todd Stern, our special envoy for the climate change talks and the general issue that we take so seriously in the Obama administration. Todd is off to a great start on a very difficult path, and we will need to forge an international consensus. We'll have to work very hard between now and Copenhagen to lay the groundwork for that consensus.
We're delighted to have Nancy Sutley here from the Council of Environmental Quality in the White House. And I know Nancy worked with a friend of mine, Mayor Villaraigosa, in Los Angeles on some of these issues.
And I am always pleased to be with Pat Kennedy, who's done an excellent job being our undersecretary for management, and has just a great ability to help identify and solve so many of the problems we face, and under whose leadership the department has really been brought together.
We're trying to green diplomacy, and we want to do it every day, not just on Earth Day. That starts with our foreign policy and accepting that climate change is more than a scientific phenomenon. It's a political challenge; it's an economic force; it's a security threat and a moral imperative.
We've already seen the results of climate change, which has, because of rising waters, because of desertification, displaced communities and jeopardized food and water supplies, helped to spread epidemics and threatened the continued existence of island nations.
So we know climate change has to be an urgent challenge that we work at the highest levels of our government to address, but that's not enough. What we are trying to do today is to bring the message home to individuals, to embassies, to the State Department and across the world, that our goal is to make climate change, the greening of the world, a responsibility that starts with each and every one of us.
We have in the Obama administration not only moved to address climate change -- and there was a recently-completed two-week session of negotiations in Bonn, and on Monday we'll host a major economies forum here. But we also have moved on some other important environmental issues. In a reversal of long-standing policy, the Obama administration pledged in February to take the lead in developing a global treaty to regulate mercury. This is a critical issue, particularly for pregnant women and children. We are moving ahead with efforts to increase access to safe drinking water, conserve the world's forests, slow the depletion of the world's fisheries.
So we know that there's a big agenda ahead of us. But I have just visited the displays that are outside and down the hall. And I invite all of you when you leave here to take a few minutes to look and see what the State Department is doing, because we're trying to translate our rhetoric into the reality of everyday decisions. That means making this a personal challenge, not just a governmental or global challenge.
The State Department has more than 250 embassy compounds abroad, more than 100 facilities here at home. In total, that adds up to 42- 1/2 million square feet of office space. We heat buildings near the Arctic Circle, and we cool those near the Equator. We power legions of computers, copiers and fax machines. Our staff uses every mode of transportation to travel to remote corners of the world.
And we know that the business we conduct, this business of diplomacy and development, has an impact environmentally, financially and publicly.
And leadership is more than just giving speeches. It truly is serving as an example and setting us -- forth a series of steps that we can travel together.
When I came to the State Department just a few months ago, I was heartened to learn that there already were many initiatives under way to make the department more sustainable. I've heard from 33 chiefs of missions abroad who comprise what is called the "League of Green U.S. Embassies" which coordinates and supports efforts to green our missions overseas. Several bureaus, including Europe and Eurasia, Consular Affairs and Overseas Building Operations have their own "green teams" to make our offices more energy-efficient and less wasteful.
Now, the State Department's computer servers take up about 3 percent of our building space but consume 40 percent of our electricity load. We are working with a team from the IT department to narrow that ratio. But one thing we could all do is turn off our computers. That actually would save energy.
I know that there are ways that we can get behind this "Greening Diplomacy" initiative. It's a pledge that we will take to improve the environmental impact of our operations here and abroad. It has four key objectives: first, to develop and implement policies and initiatives that will reduce the State Department's environmental footprint; second, to empower employees to contribute to greening efforts by providing a hub where people can go with their ideas; third, to share best practices and track our progress; and fourth, to connect the management of the department with the work we do in diplomacy and development so our staff can continue working on environmental issues around the globe, highlighting the progress we're making, coming back with good, new ideas and generally moving the agenda forward.
Many of our embassies around the world have adopted cutting-edge practices: Our mission in Monrovia is getting ready to install a massive tank to collect rainwater; our mission in Kathmandu uses native plants to control water runoff; Embassy Abuja, which uses solar panels to produce hot water; Embassy Geneva, which today is cutting the ribbon on a new kind of air conditioning technology called magnetic levitation chiller -- which I, for one, had never heard of, but it turns it requires less fuel, creates no friction and needs less maintenance than other air conditioners.
Even here, at the Harry Truman Building, we've taken action. We've installed solar panels on our roof. The new entrance on D Street will have a green roof covered with plants. And all of the excess materials left over from the current construction work are being recycled. When some of our personnel move into the new building across the street, it will be the first gold LEED building in Washington.
Now, programs like these deserve our praise and replication. The Greening Diplomacy initiative will help scale up these kinds of innovations and give us the impetus to go even further. The initiative will be overseen by a greening council. That is a new department-wide body that I'm asking Undersecretary Kennedy to chair. I'm asking that it draws up a clear road map for where we're headed.
Now, in order to do that, we have to know where we are today, so the State Department will conduct its first-ever comprehensive global sustainability survey of all of our facilities worldwide. It will give us helpful data on energy and water use, building materials and office operations. Once the survey is complete, I will ask the greening council to give us ambitious targets for reducing environmental -- our environmental footprint and cutting costs. But we need your help, so we're asking you to send your suggestions to the sounding board and tag them with the keyword "green," and we'll consider your ideas.
I'm very excited by all of the possibilities ahead of us. And, you know, oftentimes when you face such an overwhelming challenge as global climate change is, it can be somewhat daunting. It's kind of like trying to lose weight -- (laughter) -- which I know something about, where you think, you know, "Oh, I only have to lose x numbers of pounds," but it seems like such a faraway goal. That -- if you'd been with me when we were touring the exhibits, you would have remarked, as I did, that one of the ways that people are being attracted to come and see all of these energy-saving ideas is that every single table is filled with candy. (Laughter.) So we -- you know, we're mixing messages here. But one thing at a time. (Laughter.)
But sometimes it seems as though, if you set these big goals, it just is too daunting and overwhelming; we'll never reach it. It's kind of like, you know, world peace -- and so, therefore, why even try? Well, because we're called to try. That's who we are as human beings, and that's especially how we think of ourselves as Americans.
But it's not in any way exclusive to us. Every single day we can do something to make the world a better place, to exercise, you know, some common courtesy and kindness -- maybe shake a hand of somebody you don't agree with -- (laughter, applause). There's just lots of things we can do. And so I think that if we keep in mind the big goal but we break it down into baby steps, those doable, achievable objectives, we can do so much together.
And so I'm very proud of this department -- for many, many things and every single day, but for the leadership that we are showing and the initiative to green our diplomacy. I think we can set a real example. And we are also more than willing to work with and consult with any other missions, and we have lots to learn from all of you.
This should be a global effort where we all try to have our symbols of our national presence in each of our countries represent the best technology that any of us can put together in retrofitting buildings and building new buildings, and then personally doing what each of us can do to make our contribution.
Thank you so much for joining us here today on Earth Day, and please know how much we enjoy working on behalf of this administration not only to tackle these challenges but to seize the opportunities of the 21st century.
Thank you all. (Applause.)
MR. KENNEDY: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. The priorities outlined by the secretary are clear. Achieving these priorities will require a corporate commitment and an individual one from each of us.
Again I ask everyone to personally participate and support our greening efforts. This can only be accomplished as a team. Visit our new Greening Diplomacy initiatives site on the Intranet. And send the Greening Council any ideas you have at email@example.com.
Again thank you all for coming today. Thank you for your past contributions. And I thank you for your future efforts and support. Good day. (Applause.)