President Clinton is strongly committed to using the G-8 forum to strengthen environmental protections worldwide. With U.S. leadership, the G-8 has addressed global environmental challenges including protecting forests, fighting climate change, leveling up environmental standards worldwide and bringing environmental issues into the mainstream of trade policy. In Okinawa, G-8 leaders agreed to:
Reform lending standards to reduce environmental harm: The Administration's environmental priority for the Okinawa Summit was reform of lending practices of export credit agencies (ECAs) - official government institutions that provide assistance in supporting or facilitating domestic exports. With total annual lending in excess of $100 billion, ECA financing is more than four times that of the World Bank group, and can have significant environmental impacts. However, unlike the World Bank, most ECAs have no detailed environmental safeguards. The Clinton Administration has strengthened the environmental standards of its ECA, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, to include greenhouse gas emission accounting and greater transparency in environmental impact assessment procedures.
In 1997 in Denver, G-8 leaders began work on this subject by calling for greater attention to environmental factors in ECA lending. In 1999 in Cologne, G-8 leaders began a process aimed at development of common environmental guidelines for ECAs over a two-year time period. At the urging of the United States, G-8 leaders agreed in Okinawa to accelerate this effort and, for the first time, to draw on experience from institutions like the World Bank to guide their work. Leaders agreed that the G-8 would redouble its efforts and adopt common environmental guidelines for G-8 ECAs by the 2001 Summit.
Fight climate change and promote clean energy: President Clinton is making climate change a priority both at home and abroad. aaU.S. leadership was critical in negotiating the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which sets strong, realistic targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and establishes market-based mechanisms to ensure that they are met cost effectively. The President has secured significant budget increases in funding for climate change technology and research. In this year's budget, the Administration sought over $6 billion in funding for these programs and an international clean energy initiative. In Okinawa, G-8 leaders agreed to seek early resolution of major outstanding issues in the further development of the Kyoto Protocol. In November, parties will meet to attempt to complete the design of critical Kyoto features such as emissions trading and the "Clean Development Mechanism." G-8 leaders also agreed to create a new task force to identify concrete ways to increase the use of renewable energy i n developing countries.
Protect the world's forests: The United States is helping lead international efforts to conserve and sustainably manage the world's forests. The President's Greening the Globe initiative would nearly double U.S. funding, from $80 to $150 million, for the protection of threatened tropical forests and their biological diversity. As part of the action program, the U.S. will host this fall in Southeast Asia a global meeting aimed at curbing illegal logging. In Okinawa, the G-8 received the interim report of the G-8 action program on forests and leaders committed to new measures to fight illegal logging, including a review of G-8 domestic practices to ensure they do not contribute to illegal logging.
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