In the Atlantic Council’s “Road to Paris” series, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on the importance of climate change and why a global climate agreement from the summit in Paris is so important. In his address, Secretary Kerry referenced the overwhelming scientific evidence which points to the reality of climate change, and the potential consequences for ignoring it. While much of the address was similar to his statements during the Climate Week conference ASP co-hosted him at in September, he spoke with renewed emphasis on the solution, “Energy Policy,” as he said. Kerry outlined the need for a shift towards more sustainable energy practices, that the U.S. cannot do it alone, and that an involvement of private businesses is critical to success.
Sustainable energy practices are absolutely critical for dealing with climate change. It is the most readily available solution to global emissions, and is readily implementable. Kerry was keen to point out that potential economic gains from a shift to sustainable energy. A “$6 trillion” market, with a potential for “9 billion users by 2050.” As a market, renewable energy represents not only a way to combat climate change, but a way to keep the U.S. in the lead as a key energy producer for the world.
Kerry seems to be aware of the need to bring business on board, making sure to call upon businesses as “partners” in addressing this problem, saying that it is not enough for states to invest in energy, but that businesses must invest as well. As a solution to this, Kerry proposes the transference of government subsidies from fossil fuel energy to renewable energy as a means to minimize risk for private investors.
“It is much easier for businesses to deploy capital when they have confidence in the local, legal, and regulatory policy. And to attract money, we need to control risk. The more you can minimize the risk, the greater confidence investors will have in bringing their capital to the table.”
Expanding on this note that businesses would be needed as part of a solution to climate change, Kerry also emphasized the need for public and private sector cooperation for the investment in technologies focused on clean energy.
“We have to find more ways for the public and private sector to work together to make the most of the innovative technology that entrepreneurs are developing here in the United States and around the world. And this is the idea that is behind the White House announcement that they made last month, the ‘Clean Energy Investment Initiative.’ Its goal is to attract $2 billion of private sector investment to be put towards clean energy solutions”
Secretary Kerry’s statements are consistent with a government focus on easing the transition between technology development and commercial viability with respect to energy. Kerry’s speech overall served to emphasize the importance of climate as an issue, that it is an issue that we have the capacity to deal with, and that we are already in the process of implementing the necessary energy policy to achieve our climate goals.
While it won’t truly be until December when we see if a global climate deal truly emerges, Kerry’s speech reinforces a governmental position that climate change is a serious concern that also holds great benefits for the U.S. if it’s willing to make the investment in a more sustainable energy policy.
A full video of Secretary Kerry’s speech below.
About the authors: Philip Rossetti and William George are research interns at American Security Project specializing in climate security and energy security.
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