January 11, 2022
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
John F. Kerry
Recorded Remarks – World Youth Forum, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
Good afternoon, everybody. I’m delighted to be able to be with you. And thank you very, very much for inviting me to join you for this important meeting early in the year as we get ready for Sharm el-sheik. I want to thank President Al Sisi, for his leadership on this issue and his commitment to have the government of Egypt sponsor the next COP27. I’m very glad to be able to help celebrate Egypt’s leadership on climate and its readiness to engage young people around the world, recognizing that it is young people who have really been asking the adults to behave like adults and get the job done. And so, I think your participation in this as young people is absolutely critical.
If I can take a moment, I’d like to pay my respects to Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry. He was a good friend from our years together when he was Foreign Minister, and I was Secretary of State. And I also want to thank Minister Fouad, who has been a close partner in this through Glasgow, and now will be called on to exercise great leadership as we go forward towards Sharm el-sheik.
Let me just say that I understand full well, that those of you who are in a younger generation are somewhat frustrated today. And I want you to understand that I, and many others who are older than you, share that frustration. The scientists have told us unequivocally that we have about the next eight years within which we must make the critical decisions and implement them in order to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis. And now today, in every country in the world, no one is spared. In every country, people are feeling the consequences of this climate crisis.
We’ve seen fires unprecedented and out of control, we’ve seen record levels of heat, we see the Antarctic, where just the other day, a massive ice sheet broke off. So, I understand your frustration. We accepted the responsibility in Glasgow, again, of trying to hold the earth’s temperature increase to about 1.5 degrees. And I’m proud to tell you that 65% of global GDP has signed up to do exactly that. The biggest challenge we all face right now is to get our systems, our government systems, the private sector joined with it, to actually move fast enough. And right now, we’re not. So I hope we can rely on all of you to bring the pressure to bear that is necessary.
This is not a transformation that we have to be scared of. This is really important to grab onto. The economic opportunities are gigantic. Millions of jobs can be created as we build out new energy systems, as we build electric vehicles instead of internal combustion engine vehicles, as we build smart grids in our country where we can take solar from one part of the nation and send it to another part of the nation, or wind power, which could even be sold to other countries if you have a surplus of power. The fact is that this is the largest market, the energy market that the world has ever known. And if we do what we say we’re going to do, this is going to be an exciting transformation.
In the end, my friends, this is the way we build better security for all of our nations, we will need to deploy trillions of dollars of investment to help us make this transformation. And happily, I can tell you, many of the major financial institutions of the world have already stepped up and said that they are prepared to make those investments, providing the governments do the things necessary to help to facilitate the deployment of that money by having good regulations, transparency, accountability, honesty in the data. And if we do all of those things, we can win this battle. So, Egypt and Africa going to play a very critical role in helping to set the mark and help us meet these goals, and particularly on adaptation, mitigation, on dealing with methane, on deforestation, and other critical pledges and commitments.
We stand poised to be able to deal with the worst of what is predicted affected by avoiding it by preventing it in the first place. And we can build resilience and do a lot more for adaptation as we move down that road. So, my friends, I look forward to working with President Sisi. I look forward to working with all of you as we do what is necessary to win this battle. Together, we really do have the ability to win a future that is better for all of us.