Remarks With U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Wind Technology Testing Center
Boston, Massachusetts
October 9, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you very much. Thank you very, very much. Thank you. Good morning, everybody. First of all, there is nothing better than being home in Boston on a beautiful October day. The only thing that is missing, the Red Sox are not in the playoffs, not this time. Foreign Secretary Hammond, I want to share with you the four most important words in Boston sports are, “Just wait till next year.” (Laughter.) We’ll be back.

It’s very special for me to be back here for a lot of different reasons, and Deval, our superb governor, just hit on some of them. But since I’ve been privileged to be Secretary of State, I’ve now had occasion to travel and be either in the trail of or in the company of Deval Patrick. And we went to Panama together for the inauguration of the new president, and the reason Deval was there is he has been totally focused on jobs and opportunities for Massachusetts and for the United States, and he’s been a terrific ambassador in that cause. And I’m not at all surprised to hear that he has just come back from a clean energy conference in London, because as governor, he has made absolutely certain that Massachusetts is leading the way with respect to clean energy, future energy, renewable alternative, and together, with states like California, we really are setting the trend.

I might also point out the fact, which I’m very proud of as a Massachusetts citizen, that the governor has set the next big step of helping to move us forward by setting the goal for ending all reliance on conventional coal generation in the next four years, and that is something I don’t believe any other sitting governor in the United States has had the foresight to do. So Governor, thank you very, very much for that. (Applause.)

I also want to thank Massachusetts’s terrific Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Maeve Bartlett for her great work to help make Massachusetts more energy-efficient and the most energy-efficient state in the nation. As the governor just mentioned, not once, not twice, but for the third straight year in a row, we are leading the nation in energy efficiency, and I’m proud of that. I also want to brag on her brother for a minute. Those of you who don’t know it, but Maeve is the youngest sister of one of my oldest friends in politics and life, and a great citizen of our state, Tommy Vallely, and we will not hold that against you, Maeve. (Laughter.)

I want to also thank Alicia Barton, the CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and Rahul Yarala, executive director of the Wind Technology Testing Center, for showing us this remarkable facility here today. And most of all, I want to express a very warm Massachusetts welcome to our guest, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. We’re really happy to have you here today. We’re grateful for your leadership, and I’ll say a little more about that, but thanks so much for being with us here. And Mr. Ambassador, Madam Consul General, thank you for being here with us too.

It was in a time of war and a time of challenge when exactly 70 years ago this year, Sir Winston Churchill first talked about the special relationship between the United States and Great Britain. And his deep conviction expressed then that unless we always kept the United States and the United Kingdom together in that special relationship untold destruction would be the result. Well, seven decades later, our two countries are confronting real danger together, taking it on, stopping it, and ultimately, we will defeat it – not just on the battlefield against ISIL, but we’re also together confronting what is a “gathering storm” of this century. The gathering storm that Sir Winston also warned about. And there is no element of that gathering storm more critical than climate change.

Together, both of our countries recognize that never before has a threat like climate change found in its solution such a level of opportunity – the opportunity to unleash the clean-energy economy that will get us out of this mess but also take us forward towards a safer, more sustainable future.

Now I know that climate change to some people can just seem like a very distant, future prospect, maybe even a future challenge. That’s dangerous, falling prey to that perception, because it’s not. And it would be very dangerous to lull ourselves into believing that you can wait with respect to any of the things that we need to do to meet this challenge.

Climate change is already impacting the world in very real and significant ways. This past August was the hottest August the planet has ever seen in recorded history. And each year of the last ten years, a decade, has been measured as being hotter than the last with one or two variations of which year followed which, but as a decade the hottest in our recorded history.

There are now – right now – serious food shortages taking place in places like Central America because regions are battling the worst droughts in decades, not 100-year events in terms of floods, in terms of fires, in terms of droughts – 500-year events, something unheard of in our measurement of weather.

Scientists now predict that with glaciers and melting of the ice at the current rates, the sea could rise now a full meter in this century. A meter might not seem like a whole lot, but let me tell you, think about it just in terms of Boston. It would mean about $100 billion worth of damage to buildings, to emergency costs, and so on.

And thinking about climate change as some distant challenge is dangerous for other reasons too. We still have in our hands a window of opportunity to be able to make the difference. We don’t have to face a future in which we’re unable to talk about anything except adaptation or mitigation, already present in our planning. But the window is closing quickly. That’s not a threat; that’s a fact. If all of us around the world do not move to push back against the current trend line of what is happening in climate change, we will literally lose any chance of staving off this threat.

The good news is that we actually know exactly how to do it. This is not a challenge which has no solution. This is not a challenge that’s out of our reach. The solution is staring us in the face. It’s very simple: clean energy. The solution to climate change is energy policy. And the best news of all is that investing in clean-energy economy doesn’t just mitigate the impacts of climate change and make our communities cleaner and healthier. It actually also reinvigorates our economies and creates millions of good jobs around the world.

Let me just share with you something. We in Massachusetts ought to be particularly tuned into this. In the 1990s, America created more wealth than at any other time in our history, more even than the famous 1920s and ’30s, when people read about the history of the Carnegies and the Mellons and the Rockefellers and the Fricks and so forth. We created greater wealth in the 1990s in America than we did when we had no income tax in the 1920s.

And the truth is that that came about as a $1 trillion market with 1 billion users – remember the one for one – in technology, in personal computers, in communications. And guess what? Every single quintile of income earner in America saw their incomes go up. Everybody did better. Well, the energy market that we are looking at today, in a nation that doesn’t even have a national grid, a nation that has an east coast grid, a west coast grid, a Texas grid, and a line that goes from Chicago out into the west towards Dakotas – that’s it. We have a huge, gaping hole in the middle of America. We can’t take energy from solar thermal in the Four Corners down there by New Mexico and Colorado and California and bring it to the northeast where we need it. We can’t take energy from those wind farms of Minnesota or Wisconsin or Iowa and sell it south, or our wind ultimately from Cape Wind because we don’t have a transmission system.

Guess what? $1 billion of investment in infrastructure is somewhere between 27,000 and 35,000 jobs. And if we were to do what we know we need to do to build the energy future of this country, we’ll put millions of people to work, and here’s the kicker: The market we’re looking at is a $6 trillion market with four to five billion users today, climbing to a potential 9 billion users by the year 2050. It is literally the mother of all markets. Governor Patrick understands that. Massachusetts has understood that. But we have not yet been able to translate that into our national policy.

So once again, I’m proud Massachusetts is setting the trend. Massachusetts is leading by example. And that’s why many in the United States and the UK who are leading by example. And as the governor said, we’re a little behind them in terms of some of the things we ought to be doing, behind Europe in some respects. But in the United States we’re now targeting emissions from transportation and power sources, which are 60 percent of dangerous greenhouse gases. And at the same time, we bumped our solar energy production on a national basis by ten times and we’ve upped our wind energy production on a national basis by more than threefold thanks in large part to facilities just like this one.

So because of the steps that we’re now taking, we’re in a position to put twice as many people to work in the energy sector, nearly double the amount of people currently employed by oil and gas industry. This is the future. It’s already a $10 billion chunk of the Massachusetts economy and growing; 90,000 – almost 100,000 – people employed here in Massachusetts; 6,000 companies statewide are defining this future. And the Massachusetts wind testing center that we’re in now helps ensure that the global wind power industry is deploying the most effective land-based offshore wind turbine technologies to be used around the world.

This is global, what’s happening here, and that’s why Philip Hammond and I wanted to come here today, to underscore not just to Massachusetts but to America and to the world what these possibilities are. And the fact is that there is a lab not unlike this, a Narec blade testing facility in the United Kingdom city of Blyth. So we share this vision in very real ways.

I’d just say to all of you here that people need to feel the pressure from you. You all know what politics is about. I’m not in it now, but I’m dependent on it to help make the right decisions so that we move in the right direction. A clean energy future is not a fantasy. Changing course and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change is not a fantasy. And supporting healthier communities and ecosystems and driving economic growth and job creation – none of that is a fantasy. And for those people who still stand in the way, for those people who even still today want to try to question whether or not their science is effective or not, I’d just ask you – ask a simple question: If we’re wrong about this future, what’s the worst that could happen to us for making these choices?

The worst that could happen to us is we create a whole lot of new jobs, we kick our economies into gear, we have healthier people, healthier children because we have cleaner air, we live up to our environmental responsibility, we become truly energy independent, and our security is stronger and greater and sustainable as a result. That’s the worst that happens to us.

What happens if they’re wrong? (Applause.) If they’re wrong – catastrophe. Life as you know it on Earth ends. Seven degrees increase Fahrenheit, and we can’t sustain crops, water, life under those circumstances.

So I know, with Philip Hammond and I and President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron and a whole bunch of leaders around the world know, we need to go to Lima, Peru this year and we need to push forward on an agreement, and next year in Paris we need to reach an agreement where we live up to our responsibility to future generations and make all the difference in the world.

I am proud that we have a great colleague to help us in this fight, an individual who understands the security connection of this better than most because he just finished serving as the Secretary for Defense in Great Britain and was transferred into this role as the Foreign Secretary for Great Britain.

So will you please welcome a terrific partner, a great colleague in this endeavor, Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary of Great Britain. (Applause.)

FOREIGN SECRETARY HAMMOND: Well, thank you, John, for that introduction, and one of the great things about having just been Secretary of State for Defense is that I’m quite used to speaking in aircraft hangars, which have vaguely similar acoustics to this room today. John, it’s a huge privilege to be here, to be invited to visit your hometown. Thank you for that. Thank you for the things that you’ve shown me today. And thank you to our hosts for hosting this event in this world class facility. It’s a fascinating snapshot of the degree of global collaboration that is going on as the green energy business develops on a worldwide basis.

I know that we’re looking at a facility here that is testing blades made in Europe, in China, in Brazil, as well as in North America. And nothing could more encapsulate the global nature of the challenge and the global nature of the response to that challenge. This is a city with a worldwide reputation not only as a seat of learning, but also as a hub for cutting-edge technology, and it’s been a great pleasure to see some of that here today.

Those of you who are working in the low-carbon energy sector know that you are generating jobs and investment for the long term. But above all, you know that you’re in the front line in the battle against climate change. Secretary Kerry, the governor, and I are in complete agreement that this is a battle that we have to win for the sake of our long-term security. When we think about keeping our nation safe, we have to plan for the worst-case scenarios, and Secretary Kerry just spelled out in very, very graphic terms how that equation works. We have to take the precautionary principle, we have to plan for the worst possible outcome, and we have to protect future generations from the impacts of those.

In the case of unchecked climate change, even the most likely scenario could have catastrophic consequences: a rise in global temperature similar to the difference between the last ice age and today, leading to rising sea levels, huge movements of people fueling conflict and instability around the world, pressure on resources, and a multitude of new risks to global public health. The worst case is even more severe: a drastic change in our environment that could see heat stress in some areas surpass the limits of human tolerance, leaving as the legacy of our generation an unimaginably different and more dangerous world for our children and our grandchildren.

So we have to act on climate change, but by doing so we will not just protect the future from the worst effects of climate change; we will bring tangible benefits to our people here and now. We’ll get cleaner air, more efficient transport, better cities, better health. And more than that, the technological transformation that is required will provide a greater stimulus than the space program did 50 years ago, generating massive new opportunities for innovation, jobs, and economic growth.

For too long this debate has been dominated by purists and idealists, people who are happy with the notion that we would have to sacrifice economic growth to meet the climate challenge. I think you’ve heard from all three of us on this platform this morning that we reject that choice. We do not accept that we have to choose between our prosperity and the future of our planet. Indeed, we are demonstrating across the world – here in Massachusetts, in the UK – we are demonstrating that the response to climate change can be a generator of economic growth, innovation, and quality jobs.

In the UK, 92 percent of business leaders think that green growth is an opportunity for their own businesses. Demand for green goods and services is growing faster both here and in Europe than the general economy is growing. Globally, as Secretary Kerry has said, the green economy will be worth over $6 trillion by 2030, and it’s expanding all the time.

But the full range of benefits is beyond our ability to estimate. The dividends of technology are often unpredicted and unpredictable. The potential is immense. And by seizing the initiative now, we can take first-mover advantage.

Moreover, in addition to creating jobs and growth, embracing green technology increases our energy security. At a time of international turbulence, this is an advantage we should not underestimate. And we in Europe, facing Russian energy bullying on a grand scale as we approach the winter, understand that better than most people. ISIL’s assault on Iraq poses another serious threat to our energy security, which could have knock-on effects in global energy markets and the prices that we pay at the pump.

Here in the U.S., the shale revolution has eased worries about dependence on overseas oil and gas, and in the UK we are committed to exploiting the potential of shale as part of our energy mix. But over the longer term, renewable energy sources, like those being developed and tested here, will be critical to reducing our vulnerability to energy supply shocks.

So the benefits of addressing climate change are multiple, but it will not happen by itself. It requires leadership, leadership that is now, some would say, at last beginning to take shape. Britain is leading by enacting into our domestic law the most demanding emissions targets in the industrialized world. We’ve already reduced emissions by more than a quarter, putting us on track for an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050. We have the world’s leading carbon-trading center in London, and we’ve established the world’s first green investment bank.

Here on this side of the Atlantic, Boston is leading with its innovative technology. Northeastern states collectively are leading with their Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Other states, from Iowa to Texas to California, are leading in their separate ways. And John, if I may say so, you are leading with your tireless diplomacy on this issue.

The U.S. has begun to take on the leadership role, which, as the world’s biggest economy, is essential if we are going to make progress globally. And there are signs that these efforts are inspiring others to follow, with positive steps from China, from India, from Brazil. This is a momentum that we have to harness and increase if we are to secure an effective global climate deal in Paris next year. And I look forward to working with Secretary Kerry and our partners in the European Union in order to bring that about.

But it isn’t just about governments and diplomacy. Scientists and universities are shaping the debate. Ordinary people and civil society are helping to keep this issue in the spotlight through actions like the Climate March a few weeks ago, but also through their own individual choices as consumers, which in turn drives the vital role that businesses have to play, shaping their investment, channeling innovation to support the fight against climate change.

Both here and – in the U.S. and in the UK, business is at the heart of our approach. We will get this job done by going with the grain, by using the power of the market, by creating the necessary incentives and structures to mobilize the creativity of private businesses to respond to the challenges of climate change. It is a complex task, but as Secretary Kerry said, it is not rocket science; it is something that we know how to do, we just have to put our shoulders to the wheel and get it done.

Fifty years ago, the U.S. showed us how a strategic challenge – putting a man on the moon – could guarantee innovation through economy-transforming investments. Today, we have an opportunity to do that again in response to the challenge of climate change. If we are to achieve our common goal of limiting climate to two degrees Celsius, we need everyone to play their part. It is clear that we have no time to lose.

Secretary Kerry just repeated his oft-repeated remark, that the window of time is still open for us to be able to manage this threat. But as he, himself, observed, that window is fast beginning to close.

To counter the threat and to seize the opportunity that rising to the challenge of climate change represents we have to act now. And by acting now, we will not only maximize our changes of avoiding catastrophic climate change, we will increase our resilience and create huge new opportunities for growth and innovation in all our economies. That is what I call a true win-win situation. Thank you very much. (Applause.)