Opening Remarks by Secretary Blinken at the Virtual Leaders Summit on Climate

Opening Remarks at the Virtual Leaders Summit on Climate


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.