Remarks at the Informal High-Level Event on Promoting the Early Entry into Force of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

John Kerry
Secretary of State
New York City
April 22, 2016

SECRETARY KERRY: Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Secretary-General – and congratulations, Mr. Secretary-General, on a very important day – and heads of state, Mr. Presidents and prime ministers and Your Excellencies, fellow ministers, in keeping with the spirit of trying to move it along, I’m going to throw away my comments here and disappoint somebody very much on my staff. (Laughter.) But we all know what this is about.

I understand that as of this afternoon, countries representing nearly 50 percent of global emissions are prepared to announce they will join this year, and I’m pleased to say the United States absolutely intends to join this year. There’s no question about it. In addition to that – (applause) – I’ll just say very quickly, Mr. Prime Minister, as I said earlier today, we have to do so much more than the Paris has actually asked us to do, and I think everybody understands that.

The key to this, frankly, is going to be the innovation, the private sector. I don’t think governments are going to solve this problem. Governments are going to create a framework, governments are going to invite people, and governments can facilitate the allocation of capital, the investment, the – get the regulations right, get out of the way with bureaucracies, make it happen. But if the private sector has a chance to move here, there is a modern-day – I don't know what the equivalent is in everybody’s country, but for the United States, there is another Thomas Edison of the 21st century or a Steve Jobs, a Bill Gates – somebody is going to come up with the battery storage or the high level of efficiency and low level of cost for solar. We’re going to transition.

And to me, what this agreement accomplishes is really – it sends a signal to everybody that we’re committed; all these nations are looking for the clean energy path. So trillions of dollars are going to be invested. I would just say to all my friends who worry about the competition with economy, in the 1990s in Massachusetts in the country – we had the greatest growth in our nation since the 1920s when we had no income tax. We had the greatest growth. Billionaires were created, many millionaires, in a technology revolution with a market that had only a trillion people with 1 billion users – I mean a trillion – a trillion-dollar market with 1 billion users.

The energy market is already a 6 billion, 5 billion user, going up to 9 billion, and it’s going to be the largest market in the history of human beings. So you’re already seeing money move there, and if we just make our decisions and stick with it, that’s our best chance of hitting 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees centigrade. So the United States will do everything in our power to encourage countries. We’re already working with them, we’re trying to show them how we can help with technology transfer, things we can do, and we look forward to working with every nation here in order to achieve this goal.

Thank you. And I apologize ahead of time for having to leave a little bit early, but like all of us, when we get to the United Nations, there’s so many good meetings here, we have to go to them. So thank you, Mr. Secretary-General. (Applause.)