Secretary Kerry on 'the Future of Energy'

Yesterday U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave the keynote address at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit in New York. Secretary Kerry began his address by recognized former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his proven leadership overseeing a 20 percent reduction in the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and later as the UN special envoy for climate change and cities.

Recognizing New York as part of the “roots of the global energy infrastructure,” Secretary Kerry acknowledged the importance of how inventors like Edison have shaped our modern way of life in cities like New York and in countries around the world. At the same time, Secretary Kerry warned, "unless we transition away from the sources of Edison’s time to these low-carbon alternatives, we are going to self-inflict harm to infrastructure, food production, water supplies, ecosystems, health -– potentially to life as we know it on this planet. And the fact is, when we talk about the future of energy, we are actually talking about the future of everything.”

Secretary Kerry then spoke to the ever-increasing scientific evidence of the severe impact climate change is having on the environment, citing a recent report which indicated if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, the rise of the sea could reach five or six feet by the year 2100. This could lead to major coastal flooding around the world and affect major cities and economic hubs like New York. Secretary Kerry also highlighted how climate change is contributing to a range of other global challenges including severe weather, intense droughts, food insecurity, battles over water, disease outbreaks, and mass migrations.

Despite the dangers presented by our carbon-based economy, Secretary Kerry remained hopeful, acknowledging the global community still has time to improve the way that we power our world, and in doing so avoid the worst impacts of climate change. He reiterated the importance of the commitments made by nearly 200 countries to combat climate change with Paris Agreement adopted last December. Secretary Kerry noted that these efforts not only made sense for the environment but have the potential to spur economic growth. Speaking of the parties to COP21, Kerry said, nations acted “with the conviction that if we make the changes necessary to combat climate change we will also unlock a global marketplace for clean energy the size of which the world has never seen before.”

Secretary Kerry emphasized the scope of this market-- a global renewable energy market that has expanded more than six-fold over the past decade and that has seen investment in renewable energy reach an all-time high of nearly $330 billion just last year. For the first time in history -- despite the low price of coal, oil, and gas -- more of the world’s money was spent fostering renewable energy technologies than was spent on new fossil fuel plants. Secretary Kerry acknowledged that this increased adoption of renewable energy is not only happening in industrialized countries but in emerging economies like China, India, and Brazil. He cited examples of how countries like oil-rich Nigeria are looking to diversify energy resources. He also demonstrated how the United States is partnering with countries in the Caribbean like Jamaica to make energy production less expensive and agencies like U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) are partnering with the private sector for a wind project in Kenya. As Secretary Kerry said, “no matter what country you live in, the cost of investing in clean energy now is far cheaper than paying for the consequences of climate change later.”

Despite great progress and clear opportunities in alternative energy, Secretary Kerry noted that while renewables made up more than 50 percent of all new electricity installations last year, they still only generated a little more than 10 percent of the world’s energy. Secretary Kerry encouraged national and local government officials, the private sector, civil society, and academia to work together to increase the efficiency of renewables and accelerate their adoption. He also recognized the importance of government leadership in creating a policy framework that gives investors and innovators the confidence that they needed and wanted to be able to act.

While expressing his appreciation for the vital role President Obama and the United States has played in advancing climate change policy on the global stage, Secretary Kerry recognized the need for continued public and private sector partnerships to create lasting impacts on public policy, energy infrastructure, and innovation. Secretary Kerry concluded his remarks by stating, “like Edison with his light bulb, Marconi with his radio, Bell with his telephone, the Wright Brothers with their flying machine, we have an opportunity to transform the way people live –- and in doing so, a more important task, which is to safeguard the future for generations to come.”  

For more information:
  • View Secretary Kerry's full remarks at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit.
  • Watch the entire video of the Secretary's remark during the event. 
  • Read more DipNote blogs on climate change and the environment
Secretary Kerry Delivers the Keynote Address at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Energy Summit in New York City.
Posted by DipNote Bloggers
April 6, 2016

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