Opening Remarks at the Virtual Leaders Summit on Climate

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Washington, D.C.

The White House

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good morning.  Good afternoon.  Good evening.  We are so grateful to have all of you with us today.

As President Biden and Vice President Harris have made clear, this administration intends to do more than any in U.S. history to meet the climate crisis.  What the United States can do at home can make a significant contribution toward keeping the Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.  That’s why we’re raising our ambitions, as the President described, and we will meet the new targets we set.

But of course, no country can overcome this existential threat alone.  We’re in this together.  And what each of our nations does or does not do will not only impact people of our own country, but people everywhere.  Many of us, perhaps all of us, feel a strong sense of urgency.  That’s why we’re here.  We hope that will translate into making the progress necessary during this critical year and over this decisive decade.

The consequences of falling short are clear.  Every one of our countries is already experiencing the impact of climate change, and they’ll only get worse: more frequent and more intense storms, longer dry spells, bigger floods, more people displaced, more pollution, higher health costs.  And climate change can drive the spread of disease, food insecurity, mass migration, and conflict.  All of these consequences are hitting underserved and marginalized communities in our countries the hardest, and some countries are experiencing much more severe impacts than others, something we must acknowledge and address.

But as the President said, it would be a mistake to think about climate only through the prism of threats.  As we take concrete actions to reduce emissions and prepare for the unavoidable impacts of climate change, we have an opportunity – an opportunity to create sustainable, good paying jobs to promote not only greater growth, but greater equity and to provide sustainable, reliable, affordable access to energy to more people, which is crucial to every aspect of human development.  So we’re rooting for every country, every business, every community around the world to succeed in this effort.

In that spirit, as other countries strive to meet and raise their climate targets, the United States will mobilize resources, institutional knowledge, and technical expertise from across our government, the private sector, civil society, and research universities to help.  We want every country here to know:  We want to work with you to save our planet, and we’re all committed to finding every possible avenue of cooperation on climate.

If we work together, we can do more than just address this crisis.  We can turn it into an opportunity to improve our societies and deliver for people worldwide, and we can lay the foundation for cooperation on other shared challenges.

There are many issues on which we don’t all see eye to eye.  This isn’t one of them.  No matter what country we’re from, we know the world that we want to pass on to our children and our grandchildren.  I can think of no better or more urgent cause to bring us together.

It’s now my honor to call on His Excellency the Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres.

More from: Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

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    Federal law provides certain tax benefits for transactions involving genuine insurance products, including insurance products held offshore. While taxpayers may lawfully hold offshore insurance products, they contain features that make them vulnerable for use in abusive tax schemes. For example, offshore insurance products can be highly technical and individualized, making enforcement challenging, according to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials. Furthermore, insurance is not defined by federal statute, potentially making a determination of what constitutes genuine insurance for federal tax purposes unclear. Offshore micro-captive insurance products, which are made by small insurance companies owned by the businesses they insure, may be abused if the corporate taxpayer improperly claims deductions for payments made to a micro-captive for federal tax purposes. Courts have applied certain considerations to determine whether these deductions can be claimed. For example, one consideration is whether the insurance legitimately distributes risk across participating entities. IRS officials said they expend significant resources reviewing these schemes because of the varied ways insurance companies may work. Offshore variable life insurance products, which are insurance policies with investment components over which the insured has certain control, may be abused if the individual taxpayer fails to meet IRS reporting requirements or pay appropriate federal income taxes. Federal regulations require that taxpayers with certain foreign life insurance accounts report this information to IRS and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The structure of life insurance products may vary and taxpayers are required to pay taxes based on the underlying type of financial product the policy represents. The figure below shows how noncompliance may occur when taxpayers use life insurance and micro-captive insurance in abusive tax schemes. Abusive Use of Micro-captive and Life Insurance When structured in abusive ways, insurance products held offshore can be designed to aid in unlawful tax evasion by U.S. taxpayers. Two products that IRS has recently warned have the potential for such abuse include micro-captive insurance and variable life insurance policies. GAO was asked to review how taxpayers may abuse offshore insurance products. This report describes (1) how offshore insurance tax shelters provide opportunities for income tax abuse; (2) how offshore micro-captive insurance is used and how it is used in abusive tax schemes; and (3) how offshore variable life insurance is used and how it is used in abusive tax schemes. GAO reviewed IRS tax and information return forms, relevant U.S. case law and IRS guidance, academic and trade publications, and applicable statutes and regulations. GAO also interviewed IRS officials and professionals in the tax preparation and insurance industries. For more information, contact Jessica Lucas-Judy at (202) 512-9110 or LucasJudyJ@gao.gov.
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  • United States Citizen Who Joined ISIS Charged With Material Support Violations
    In Crime News
    An indictment and arrest warrant were unsealed today in the federal court of the District of Columbia charging Lirim Sylejmani, a Kosovo-born naturalized U.S. citizen, with conspiring to provide, providing, and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and receiving training from ISIS, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2339B and 2339D. 
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  • Defenders Work to Ensure Due Process Amid Pandemic
    In U.S Courts
    Of the many challenges that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has imposed on the ongoing operations of federal courts, some of the toughest are being faced by federal defenders, who are on the front lines working to overcome unprecedented threats to their clients’ safety and constitutional rights.
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  • ‘All too frequent tragedies demand action to improve judicial security,’ Judge tells Judicial Conference
    In U.S Courts
    “Four federal judges and three family members have been killed since 1979. These horrific tragedies must stop,” Judge David W. McKeague told the Judicial Conference of the United States today.
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    In Travel
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    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • $2.25 Million Fund Available in Justice Department Settlement with Amtrak
    In Crime News
    Today, Amtrak began accepting claims for monetary compensation for people with mobility disabilities who traveled or wanted to travel from or to one of the 78 stations listed below and encountered accessibility issues at the stations. Claims must be submitted by May 29, 2021.
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  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi
    In Crime Control and Security News
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