December 6, 2021

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Remarks at the Fifth Session of the UN Environment Assembly Leadership Dialogue

23 min read

Ambassador Marcia Bernicat, Senior Official for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment and Acting Assistant SecretaryBureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

Virtual

As prepared

Thank you to the UNEP  staff, Executive Director, Inger Andersen, Deputy Executive Director, Joyce Msuya, and Minister Rotevatn for their commitment to the success of this gathering.

Inger and Joyce, it is so lovely to be with you again, if only virtually.

The Biden-Harris Administration recognizes the urgency of the environmental challenges we face and has taken immediate action to tackle these interrelated issues.

On his very first day in office, President Biden brought the United States back into the Paris Agreement, and as of February 19th, the United States is once again a party to the agreement that we were proudly instrumental in achieving just over five years ago.

The President has also directed the Department of State to seek the advice and consent of the United States Senate on the ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. If enforced worldwide, the Amendment could prevent up to 0.4 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of this century.

The President’s Special Envoy for Climate, former Secretary of State John Kerry, has emphasized the interdependence of climate and the oceans. The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to prioritize ocean conservation, including reducing marine debris and plastic pollution. The United States Congress has also demonstrated strong support for this issue by passing the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act to address marine debris and ocean plastic at home and abroad.

The United States will continue to work to prevent future pandemics in part by addressing the drivers of zoonotic disease worldwide. Key drivers include the sale of high-risk wildlife in markets, wildlife trafficking, and human encroachment into wildlife habitat. To protect natural habitat, President Biden has committed to conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. domestic lands and waters by 2030.

The United States is also a global leader in technologies and policy to monitor and abate air pollution, the single biggest environmental risk factor to human health. We are eager to share the lessons we’ve learned over the last 50 years about reducing air pollution and emissions of toxic chemicals with the global community.

As President Biden has said, “We are in a crisis.” The threats I have just described require urgent, action from every state to address this global problem. The United States looks forward to working with partners and allies to overcome these challenges. Together, we must — we can — truly build a cleaner, safer, more sustainable world.

Thank you very much.

More from: Ambassador Marcia Bernicat, Senior Official for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment and Acting Assistant SecretaryBureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

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