Nov 2, 2021
Joe Biden & Boris Johnson COP26 Press Conference Transcript
President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke about climate action at the COP26 summit on November 2, 2021. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Joe Biden: (00:00)
Hello, everyone. Thank-
Speaker 2: (00:03)
[Foreign language 00:00:03]. [crosstalk 00:00:03].
Joe Biden: (00:24)
… could build, for example, a coal plant today-
Speaker 2: (00:38)
[Foreign language 00:00:38].
Joe Biden: (00:38)
… instead of a solar or a wind farm could mean that another 30 years of burning fossil fuels-
Speaker 2: (00:38)
[Foreign language 00:00:38]. [crosstalk 00:00:38].
Joe Biden: (00:38)
… the city for generation, and the carbon footprint in that city.
Joe Biden: (00:44)
Every choice we make in this decisive decade, and I mean it literally between now and 2030, has to bring us closer, closer to, not push us further away from a sustainable path to net-zero emissions by 2050.
Joe Biden: (00:59)
That recognition was front and center when I announced the Build Back Better World initiative in June, along with our G7 partners. But to put this in perspective, the Build Back Better Initiative, the Clean Green Initiative, Great Britain, The Global Gateway and Clean Green Initiatives are all part, all part of the joint effort among the G7 partners to deliver high quality infrastructure.
Joe Biden: (01:22)
And I want to thank Ursula for the Clean Green Initiative as well. We’re all on the same team with, essentially, the same issues.
Joe Biden: (01:32)
There is an urgent need for infrastructure development in countries, infrastructure that prioritize, when you build it, it prioritizes the fight against climate change from the moment the spade goes in the ground, and jumpstarts the green economic growth. That’s what I’m focused on in the United States. But it isn’t just an American project, it’s work we all have to do and we all are doing around this table. By ensuring high standards, high standards for our projects, we can create infrastructure that lifts up communities and begins to lift them up now, and does not put them behind the eight ball, or that’s a bad expression to use, but put them behind the curve when it comes to 2, 5, 10, 15 years from now. Being transparent about how we’re financing our projects, we offer positive alternatives to debt traps and corruption. We can hold entire countries back if we don’t do that. Transparency is critically important. And by insisting and responding to the needs of developing countries rather than dictating projects from afar, we can deliver the greatest impact for those who need it the most. By mobilizing trillions of dollars of investment capital that’s sitting on the sidelines, that can multiply the impact of our country investments in a significant way. And by coming together to make a difference in the lives of people all around the world, we have to show, and I think we will show, that democracy is still the best way for delivering results. Let me say it again: Democracy is still the best way for delivering results. That is my vision of the Build Back Better World. But my guess is it’s my colleagues’ vision as well, and I’m eager to hear from all of you today, quite frankly. And to start the conversation, I’d like to propose five key principles that should guide our investments in infrastructure. First, every project should be climate-resilient and developed with climate in mind. Every project that’s started, we should think about it from the perspective of climate. I mean that sincerely. New transportation infrastructure should be designed with sea-level rise in mind. Healthcare and digital infrastructure should be built to withstand extreme weather events. And in this decade, to invest in wind, solar, hydropower, and more. Today, as part of this commitment, the United States, together with the UK, France, Germany, and the EU, is announcing a new partnership with South Africa to help transform their economy to a clean energy economy more quickly. Right now, South Africa is the largest emitter in Africa, due in large part to their heavy reliance on coal for power. By closing South Africa’s coal plants ahead of schedule and investing in clean power alternatives for the people of South Africa, and supporting an equitable inclusive transition in South Africa’s coal sector, we’re following through on the pledge the G7 partners made in Cornwall to accelerate the transition away from coal in developing countries. And I realize the reliance on coal is consequential. But I can remember growing up as a young man in an area that was a heavy supplier of coal in Northeast Pennsylvania. And I watched what happened when it collapsed and how the impact on the community. And that’s why we have to take care of the people who are impacted on and provide alternatives for them as well. By closing South Africa’s coal plants ahead of schedule and investing in clean alternatives for the people of South Africa, and supporting equitable and inclusive transitions in South Africa’s coal sector, we’re following through, as I said, on the pledge we made. The second point I’d like to make: All our projects should be designed in close partnership with the countries where they will happen, where they will happen.
Joe Biden: (05:37)
It’s a simple but powerful principle: Projects will only be successful, in my view, when there is buy-in, input, and engagement from the communities they’re intended to help and impact. I learned that yesterday from Barbados. Actually, I think I knew it ahead of time, but you made a really, very compelling speech yesterday.
Joe Biden: (05:57)
Local governments, labor, and civil society should be engaged at the very start to make sure the benefits to the community are equitable and they’re immediate.
Joe Biden: (06:08)
Thirdly, the Build Back Better World project should be high quality and high standards. What does that mean in practice? Well, it means whenever there’s something to purchase or someone to hire, we’ll use transparent and competitive processes that safeguard against corruption.
Joe Biden: (06:28)
It means we’ll provide affordable financing so local taxpayers aren’t stuck with a big bill they can’t pay down the line.
Joe Biden: (06:37)
It means environmental planning to reduce the risk of damaging the ecosystem and increase the resilience to climate change.
Joe Biden: (06:46)
And fourthly, partnership is essential. To reach net-zero by 2050, we’re going to need to mobilize trillions of dollars, as our friends at the end of the table know, trillions of dollars in financing to harness both private and public-sector resources. I met with some of these private-sector suppliers earlier today. I think it’s within our capacity to do that, led by the men at the end of the table, and harness both private and public-sector resources.
Joe Biden: (07:15)
So I look forward to working with the World Bank President, David Malpass, and Mark Carney, who is now with the U.N., about how to mobilize the private sector and international financial institutions to help build a pipeline of projects that we can invest in, but can be counted on and planned for, and be done in regular order.
Joe Biden: (07:36)
And finally, as you keep hearing me say, and I apologize, building out our climate infrastructure can and should help drive a sustainable economic recovery.
Joe Biden: (07:48)
From the first meeting we had, I know, I apologize for the repetition, but I look at climate and dealing with climate change, and I see jobs. Good jobs, economic development, and movement. That’s what I see.
Joe Biden: (08:03)
And finally, you keep hearing me say it, but building out the climate infrastructure should drive sustainable economic recovery. It can spur the creation of those good jobs in the developing world just like it can in the developed world.
Joe Biden: (08:20)
Our global transition to a net-zero economy is predicated on 30 million new jobs worldwide by 2030. Thirty million new jobs, good-paying jobs.
Joe Biden: (08:33)
So this climate crisis is an enormous opportunity. It’s about jobs. It’s about building the industries of the future. It’s about making sure everyone shares in the benefits of an equitable and sustainable green recovery.
Joe Biden: (08:46)
A Build Back Better World is going to show that we can grow our economies, fight climate change, and leave a better, cleaner, more livable planet for all of our children.
Joe Biden: (08:55)
So, I want to thank you all for joining us today. And now I’d like to turn it over to a woman who I think impresses me every time I hear her speak, President von der Leyen, to make a few remarks.
Speaker 3: (09:11)
Is there any response to [crosstalk 00:09:12]?
Ursula von der Leyen: (09:11)
Thank you very much Mr. President, dear Joe, prime minister, dear Boris, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it’s my great pleasure to co-host this important event with you, Mr. President.
Ursula von der Leyen: (09:26)
Indeed, our joint work on infrastructure needs in low and middle income countries started earlier this year in Carbis Bay. Boris, I remember very well under your presidency and here now in Glasgow, in the spirit of COP26, we want to highlight the progress made so far and emphasize the importance of climate-positive infrastructure development.
Ursula von der Leyen: (09:50)
Thus, if investing in transport, in energy, and digital network, we always have to make sure that it serves the planet and the people. And for that we need to work with like-minded states, both in the context of G7 and G 20. And we have to work with the private sector. The global needs for climate positive infrastructures are huge.
Ursula von der Leyen: (10:18)
According David Malpass, to The World Bank, to bridge the world’s infrastructure gap, we will need 1.3 trillion Euro of investment every year, every year. And that’s why I commend your efforts, Mr. President, dear Joe, on Build Better World and the Clean Green Initiative, Boris, this is this kind of leadership that we need for this important initiative.
Ursula von der Leyen: (10:47)
And in the same spirit, Europe is launching the Global Gateway Initiative. It is our strategy to foster investments in connecting our world, building on our shared values, and with a strong commitment to transparency and inclusivity.
Ursula von der Leyen: (11:06)
It is global in scale, from Africa, to Latin America, to the Indo-Pacific. It articulates a positive vision of cooperation in the 21st century. And it builds on partnership at eyes level. That’s Global Gateway, and B3W, and The Clean Green Initiative is not only complementary, but even they reinforce each other.
Ursula von der Leyen: (11:36)
And allow me to say a few words to the four guiding principles you have raised. First of course, the climate neutrality infrastructure development must be consistent with the net-zero goal by mid-century. Second, indeed, it is about good governance and transparency. You called it partnership, Joe, that is exactly what it is about. Both are increasingly critical to deal with today’s challenges.
Ursula von der Leyen: (12:06)
The third topic is it will be value-driven. You said high quality and high standards, indeed Global Gateway for example, will build on values such as labor and environmental standards. Our people are asking for it.
Ursula von der Leyen: (12:22)
And fourth, it will work hand-in-hand with the private sector. So I think Mr. President, dear Joe, the example you gave of the new initiative with South Africa is an outstanding one, an exemplary one. It’s an excellent showcase.
Ursula von der Leyen: (12:41)
Indeed, that the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and the European Union are together launching this just energy transition partnership with South Africa, teaming up with President Cyril Ramaphosa, financially supporting South Africa making the transition out of fossil fuel and into clean energy.
Ursula von der Leyen: (13:02)
I think this partnership, and I hope it will be a blueprint for similar partnerships with other countries. And I look forward to our discussion. I have the pleasure now to give the floor to you, prime minister, dear Boris.
Boris Johnson: (13:18)
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much dear Ursula. And thank you everybody. Thanks Joe and Ursula for hosting this meeting, and you’re absolutely right that we began this idea with the Build Better Partnership in Carbis Bay.
Boris Johnson: (13:33)
To keep 1.5 degrees in sight to reach global net-zero and to protect vulnerable countries from the impacts of climate change means the development of new clean and green infrastructure. And this presents a huge opportunity to turn our struggle against climate change into a global mission as President Biden has said for jobs and growth.
Boris Johnson: (13:56)
In the UK, through our net-zero strategy, we are pioneering a green industrial revolution with public investment, leveraging billions of pounds of private funding into whole new industries from offshore wind to carbon capture and storage, allowing us in the UK to level up our whole country with thousands of good new green jobs, and by partnering with developing and emerging economies to invest in climate-smart infrastructure and meeting our $100 billion climate finance commitment.
Boris Johnson: (14:32)
Of course, we can go on to unlock trillions, whether it’s tens of trillions or hundreds of trillions, as Mark Carney would say, of private finance to do something similar around the whole world.
Boris Johnson: (14:46)
So our pursuit of global net-zero can drive global leveling up, helping developing economies fast track their way to a more prosperous, clean and green future.
Boris Johnson: (14:59)
So the UK wholeheartedly supports the principles that President Biden has set out, working in partnership to create the highest standards of climate-resilient infrastructure rooted in our shared democratic values of transparency, inclusivity, collaboration, and led by the host countries, responding to their needs.
Boris Johnson: (15:22)
And I welcome the work of Mark Carney and others on creating what we call country platforms help connect the pipelines of green infrastructure projects with the vast private capital looking to invest in net-zero. The UK is proud to contribute to these efforts today with our Clean Green Initiative, as you say, Ursula, by taking our green industrial revolution global, we’re investing over 3 billion pounds and mobilizing a similar amount of private finance to support technologies like drought-resistant agriculture, where investors have been reluctant to take the risks alone.
Boris Johnson: (16:05)
We’re investing in green bonds for renewable energy in Vietnam, and solar power in Burkina Faso, Pakistan, Nepal, and Czech. Were offering guarantees to The World Bank and The African Development Bank to unlock up to 2.2 billion pounds of new finance for green infrastructure across India and Africa.
Boris Johnson: (16:27)
And we’re working with President Ramaphosa, Cyril Ramaphosa, to deliver his ambitious vision for faster greener growth, helping to lead an $8.5 billion partnership to decarbonize what is currently the most carbon-intensive energy system in the world, and by choking off international finance for coal. I look forward to working with you all as we take forward these invest in clean green infrastructure.
Boris Johnson: (16:55)
And this is like one of those moments in the story of humanity, when everybody is making the same intellectual breakthrough at the same time in seeing the way forward in leveraging, in private finance, we have The Global Gateway, we have the One Planet Initiative, I think from Emmanuel, we have the Sustainable Markets Initiative from the Prince of Wales. We have our Clean Green Initiative. We have Built Back Better World. We have GFANZ from Mark Carney. Everybody is now on the same thing. It’s time to bring all this together so that this can be the moment when we get real on leveling up the world and securing a cleaner, greener, and more prosperous future for everybody. Thank you.
Speaker 6: (17:37)
Thank you very much [crosstalk 00:17:42] and I would ask for the press to leave.