Nov 9, 2021
Nancy Pelosi COP26 Climate Summit Press Conference Transcript
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow on November 9, 2021. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Speaker Pelosi: (00:11)
Yeah. After me. Good afternoon, everyone. It is really an honor to be here with our distinguished delegation from the House of Representatives. I want them all to stand so you can see who they are. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, McCollum, Pingree, Keating, Bonamici, Brownley, Huffman, Lowenthal, Beyer, Boyle, Espolot, Casten, Escobar, Ocasio-Cortez, Levin, Neguse. Thank you all for being here. Today, we will hear, and that’s an applause line in case you didn’t know. We can applaud ourselves. We can applaud ourselves.
Speaker Pelosi: (01:04)
This is a delegation that is so full of knowledge on the subject, determination to get the job done, holding it as a value. And again, with the beautiful diversity of our country, I’d like to acknowledge our panelists who you’ll be hearing from. Congressman Frank Pallone of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Eddie Bernice Johnson, chair of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, Gregory Meeks, Foreign Affairs, Raul Grijalva, Natural Resources, Kathy Castor the Select Committee on Climate. It is a very important meeting for the world, we know that.
Speaker Pelosi: (01:44)
And we come here equipped, ready to take on the challenge to meet the moment. In Madrid for COP25, it was my privilege to address the climate vulnerable partners leaders event for action for survival. You see now barely two years later, the importance focused on the vulnerables. That time we heard from those climate vulnerable communities as they gave us an early sounding, they had been doing it for years, but another early sounding that we would hear this year when the UN told the world that we face code red for humanity because of the climate crisis.
Speaker Pelosi: (02:26)
Our congressional delegation comes here fresh from advancing legislation to build back better, build back better for women which represents the most ambitious and consequential climate and clean energy legislation of all time. The nearly trillion dollar investment recognizes the interconnectedness of climate change and gender justice, which we talked about this morning. Let me just tell you what is in the bill and then we’ll get to our colleagues, and some of this I’ll tell you in Q&A. Our legislation is far reaching, ensuring that future economy is greener and cleaner.
Speaker Pelosi: (03:05)
That means $250 billion in clean energy tax credits to develop and deploy the latest and future generations of clean power. That means over 100 billion, in addition, for resilience, including climate smart agriculture and nature-based climate solutions, another 100 billion toward local and region-led climate solutions, recognizing that women are leading the way and over 222 billion for environmental justice as part of President Biden’s Justice40 pledge long overdue for the health and economic vitality of those who have suffered from pollution and environmental injustice.
Speaker Pelosi: (03:47)
It advances President Biden’s goal to fulfill our commitments in the global methane pledge and breakthrough energy pledge and we are very, very honored that we are represented on a full-time basis here by Special Envoy John Kerry. Now let me just say this. In addition to all of this, there’s a whole section of hundreds of billions of dollars for how we can enable everyone to participate in the economic prosperity that will flow from this, whether it’s universal pre-K and childcare, child tax credit, family and medical leave, which we hope will be staying in the bill, the issue that relates to home healthcare.
Speaker Pelosi: (04:28)
All of these things enable families, whether it’s dads or moms, but largely moms, to be in the workplace. That’s why we say build back better with women. It has to be different. Let me just say that led by our delegation, the United States Congress is showing the world true climate leadership. We are proud of our president. He was one of the first people in Congress in 1986 to introduce legislation to address the climate crisis. He takes great pride in that. He’s worked on it ever since and now in the lead as president of the United States.
Speaker Pelosi: (05:04)
He knows as we all do, this is all about the children, leaving a world where they can be healthy, more secure and more in reach of their fulfillment. With that, I’m now pleased to yield the floor, as we say in Congress, that to the distinguished chair of the House Committee of on Energy and Commerce. They say of that committee if the sun shines on it or not, whatever it is, it is the purview of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Mr. Chairman. You can do there.
Congressman Frank Pallone: (05:40)
Thank you. I guess it’s on. Thank you. Thank you, Madam Speaker. Let me just reiterate what you said before. I was with you in Madrid and I think you heard me say at the time, when the speaker invited me to the Madrid conference, I said to her, “Well, what are we going there for? We may not part of the agreement.” And she said, “We must go because we must show that the US is still exercising leadership.” And when we went, it was clear. I remember meeting with the secretary general and he specifically said, “Look, you need to be here because if the US doesn’t take the lead then will fall apart.”
Congressman Frank Pallone: (06:17)
And so that’s why I think that being here and reaffirming the United States commitment to a stronger cleaner future is so important. And the backbone of that commitment, as the speaker said, is the Build Back Better Act, which is this largest investment in emissions reduction and climate mitigation in our nation’s history. And it basically sets us on a path to net zero greenhouse gas pollution by 2050, which is the goal of the Paris Agreement. I just wanted to use as an example though, and again, I’ll go back to Energy and Commerce.
Congressman Frank Pallone: (06:49)
One of the things that Energy and Commerce put into the Build Back Better Act was the methane a mission program. And it just illustrates to me, Madam Speaker, what this conference is all about. Before we got here, the president announced his crackdown on methane pollution for oil and gas sources. Then just before we arrived, the global methane pledge was put out. And of course, we have this whole methane emission program in our Build Back Better Act. So that just shows me why this is so important. The US takes the lead with our president, the Congress puts this in the Build Back Better Act to take it even further, and now we see all the other countries in the world taking this methane pledge.
Congressman Frank Pallone: (07:31)
So that’s why we can do things with US leadership and why the international can join with us to actually accomplish something. And the last thing I wanted to say is that we were at the science and innovation panel before, and I always think of the Energy and Commerce Committee as the science and innovation committee, but what was stressed at that panel just before earlier today was the fact that the reality is that the science shows that this is manmade, that what’s happening in terms of climate change is manmade and that all the predictions in terms of what we have to accomplish are coming true.
Congressman Frank Pallone: (08:09)
So everything we do has to be based on science and the US can take that lead with the science and innovation background, which is really what it’s all about in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish. So thank you again, Madam Speaker, and I think I’m supposed to then introduce Eddie Bernice Johnson, who is the chair of our Science Committee. And Eddie, you were at that science panel as well and there was so much emphasis on research and the US taking the lead on research, which is I know what you’ve been doing in the Science Committee.
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson: (08:39)
Well, thank you very much. I first want to thank our speaker for making it possible for all of us to be here and all of our esteemed and outstanding chairs, as well as very active members. We deal with science on the Science, Space and Technology Committee and facts. And we’ve seen it, we’ve heard it, we’ve experienced it. We know it’s time for us to act and act with good backing from science policy. As chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, I really am determined that we will touch every part of the world to get the best evidence that we can in order to push the best policies forward.
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson: (09:29)
We have access to those policies now. The challenge is with us. We live with climate change. We talk about it, we study it, and it is time now for all of us to lead in addressing it. Inaction is really not an option. All of us know that. We spend so much money with the destruction that has come because of climate change. So we are working to offer robust federal support for our nation’s top scientists and engineers as they work on innovative ways to address climate change. We are working to build a clean energy future.
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson: (10:21)
And I’m a Texan, and I have not found too many educated people in Texas, though they might not be as many as other states, that’s against climate change. We have people working at all levels, and so I look forward to addressing our priorities after we leave this conference. We brought as much knowledge as we are going to take, but it reinforces us. We know the time is now, and we will not slack on our responsibility. I now would like to present to you one of the greatest chairs of the House. He is chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Gregory Meeks of New York.
Congressman Gregory Meeks: (11:06)
Thank you, Chair. I also want to thank our speaker for not only being here, but being in the forefront and talking about climate change back when she first started in the United States Congress, being visionary and continually to push us no matter what committee we are cheering, push us to make sure that climate is at the very front of our issues because it deals with national security, but it also deals with leadership. And as you’ve heard the president of the United States talk about America’s back, but what does that mean?
Congressman Gregory Meeks: (11:38)
If America is back by itself, America has to show that we can lead by bringing people together. And so, one of the things that we are focused on in the House Foreign Affairs Committee is making sure that we have climate diplomacy. It is diplomacy that is important, that we need to work with all the countries around the world. So we need to talk to our missions all over the place, working with the State Department, so that they have a specific charge within the missions to talk about and to work with countries, whether they be small island states, whether they be people that are indigenous to the land, whether they be folks of African descent, that they’re all having voices, not just talk to, but having voices at the table to make a difference.
Congressman Gregory Meeks: (12:23)
We also are focused on resiliency because some of these small island states, if we don’t have dollars and focused on leading and resiliency, they won’t be here. And so we are looking at resiliency, and we’ve got bills that are going to come through because in every aspect of the Foreign Affairs Committee, that will make sure that we’re addresses deforestation, black carbon, electronic waste. And of course, trying to make sure we also deal with the Arctic, the Caribbean resilience and energy security.
Congressman Gregory Meeks: (12:56)
So this is about all of us coming together and us leading globally, collectively working together and putting our money where our mouths are also so that we can make this a safer and a better planet for everybody to live in. I now have the honor to introduce an individual who has been working hard and has been a voice for indigenous people all over the world, as well as a strong voice for the state of Arizona and leading and working, and that is the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, the honorable Raul Grijalva.
Raul Grijalva: (13:30)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Madam Speaker, and to all my colleagues that are here with us, not necessarily in a chair capacity, but every one of them leaders in Congress on the very critical and life altering issue of climate change. One of the panelists today on the session on gender equity said something that I thought was very profound. She said that “As those in the highest levels and others that are forgotten shouldn’t be forgotten.” And I think that recurrent call here at this conference, but for equity and attention to all people, women, the poor, indigenous communities across the globe, struck me as a very profound way to frame the issue of climate change that we’re all facing.
Raul Grijalva: (14:32)
And last week, United States Congress under the leadership of the speaker took a huge step in breaking that cycle of denial and inaction that unfortunately for the last four years has been the hallmark of the United States Congress. And that huge step, now we have another huge opportunity to make a huge down payment with the Build Back Better Agenda for the future, a commitment to fighting climate change in an inclusive, equal and fair manner, and employing natural solutions as part of our actions that we need to take to combat climate change.
Raul Grijalva: (15:11)
Humankind bears, as we said, the responsibility for the cause, but we all bear the moral responsibility that we leave no one behind in our efforts to fight our shared climate crisis. In our country, in my country, we must lead by example, domestically and worldwide. And I think that is the agenda and that is what we need to do moving forward and attending this conference has reaffirmed that for me and very proud of the work that we’ve done to this point and the work that lies ahead. Let me introduce Chair Kathy Castor, House Select Committee on Climate Crisis, who has provided to Congress a blueprint and an agenda and a way forward.
Raul Grijalva: (16:14)
With that, let me introduce Chair Castor.
Congresswoman Kathy Castor: (16:17)
Thank you. Well, America is back. America is back and we are ready to lead on solving the climate crisis. And thanks to Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats, the United States Congress is poised to pass the largest investment in clean energy and climate solutions in the history of America. You all may have been following a little bit of the drama out of Washington, DC, but it was just a few days ago that the House passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and took the first step towards passage of the Build Back Better Act. This is historic.
Congresswoman Kathy Castor: (17:03)
We are now on a pathway to meeting the scientific imperative and the goal that President Biden set out that we need to reduce our greenhouse gas pollution by 50 to 52% by 2030 to keep us on track for net zero no later than 2050. And I think once we pass this historic package, finally, it will help the world keep 1.5 alive. Let me tell you a little bit about the backstory here. After the previous president was elected, the American people sent Democrats to Congress to take the majority in the House.
Congresswoman Kathy Castor: (17:51)
Speaker Pelosi throughout her career has made the climate crisis, climate change, our moral obligation to our kids central to her leadership. And she created a new committee called the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. She appointed a number of brilliant members from all across the country. I’d like them to stand, Sean Casten, Julia Brownley, Mike Levin, Suzanne Bonamici, Jared Huffman, Joe Neguse, Veronica Escobar, Don McEachin. Together with our professional staff, we took that time after the previous president took us out of the Paris Climate Accord to get to work, to begin to ask stakeholders all across America, all across the world for a plan of action to help us on a pathway to meet our scientific goals.
Congresswoman Kathy Castor: (18:53)
We reached out to youth activists, that was our first hearing, but brought together scientists, business leaders, innovators, the faith community, tribal, indigenous communities, the brilliance of our members all across the Congress and hammered out an action plan for the US Congress to help us solve the climate crisis. It was described after it was released as the most well thought out and detailed plan for solving the climate crisis that has ever been part of US politics. So when President Biden was elected, we had a plan and it was informed by people all across the globe.
Congresswoman Kathy Castor: (19:44)
We follow the science and that’s what you see now in this historic of Build Back Better. Because President Biden now being elected, providing that level of ambition that we needed to reclaim our mantle of leadership in the world was absolutely vital. That plan altogether will create millions of jobs, it will lower costs on consumers and it strengthen our communities. It is a plan that is built upon a foundation of equity and fair labor standards. If you look throughout the policies that are embedded there, that reflect the entire economy, because every committee chair here in essence oversees a portion of the economy.
Congresswoman Kathy Castor: (20:30)
Every policy has equity at its core because we know that there are people, many of our neighbors across America that have been disproportionately burdened by pollution and the impacts of the climate crisis. So we have an opportunity now to build back better and that’s what we intend to do. And President Biden has said we better get to work, we’re running out of time, this is the decade of action, as he has said. This is our moment, so the Congress is ready to deliver for the American people and then we intend to share these solutions to the world. Thank you very much.
Speaker Pelosi: (21:10)
Thank you. Thank you all to our distinguished chairs. Seeing how they anticipated many of your questions and understanding that this room is in great demand and has to be cleaned up in between, depending on the length of the question and length of the answer, we won’t have time from any questions. Did you have a question?
Dan Zak: (21:34)
Hi, Dan Zak from the Washington Post. Madam Speaker, how confident are you or what is the likelihood that the House will pass the reconciliation bill a week of November 15th? And then for any representatives, President Obama spoke yesterday about Congress inhibiting the boldest kind of action, even when Democrats are in a slim majority or when Republicans are in control. Do you see Congress ever evolving to the point where it can fully meet the boldness required when a Democratic president is in power to address this issue? Thank you.
Speaker Pelosi: (22:06)
Well, thank you very much for your question. Yes, we intend, that is our plan to pass the bill the week of November 15th as was indicated in our statements that were made at the time of passing the infrastructure bill. And we’re very proud of that. Let me just say that when President Obama was president and we had the majority in the first term of that, we did pass in the House, a very strong climate bill. 60 votes in the Senate is an obstacle that is very hard to overcome, and that is another subject for another day.
Speaker Pelosi: (22:43)
But we did pass that. In the Bush Administration, we passed the biggest energy bill addressing many of the concerns that cause the climate crisis, the biggest energy bill in the history of our country. So I appreciate what the president had to say. Of course, his vision was bigger than what the next six years of Republican majority would bring. But even when we had a Democratic majority, we did not have 60 in the Senate. Another question. We have time for one more. Is that okay? They’re telling us they have to clean the room.
Speaker Pelosi: (23:19)
I don’t know. I’m not taking a offense at that, but you [inaudible 00:23:22]. Wait a minute. I want a woman. I want a woman, a woman, a woman. Gender equality here. Maybe I don’t, let’s see.
Abby Martin: (23:33)
Abby Martin, with the Empire Files. Speaker Pelosi, you just presided over a large increase in the Pentagon budget. This Pentagon budget is already massive. The Pentagon is a larger polluter than 140 countries combined. How can we seriously talk about net zero if there is this bipartisan consensus to constantly expand this large contributor to climate change, which is exempt from these conferences? Military is exempt from climate talks.
Congressman Frank Pallone: (24:06)
Well, I just want to use an example if I can. You know that sea level rise is an important part of what’s happening to the climate, and I am not a defense person, but I’ve had so many talks with the Defense Department, with the Navy in particular about how they have to respond to what’s going on. So I really do think that there is no reason why what we’re putting together with Build Back Better and other things can’t respond to the Defense Department and have the same impact in terms of reducing emissions. And I do think that the defense department is very much aware of the fact that they have to play a major role, both from a strategic as well as for the good of the world.
Congressman Frank Pallone: (24:51)
So, I don’t see what we’re doing in any way or increasing the defense budget as being something that’s inconsistent with climate action. I really don’t.
Speaker Pelosi: (25:01)
And may I just add that the national security advisors all to tell us that the climate crisis is a national security matter. It is, of course, a health matter for our children, the water they drink, the air they breathe, etc. It is a jobs issue between good clean technologies being the future of our workforce and the training for all of that. It is a national security issue because of all of the con conditions that climate crisis produces. I won’t go into all of them, but they are a cause for migration conflict over habitat and resources, and again, a security challenge globally.
Speaker Pelosi: (25:44)
And then the fourth, of course, the moral issue that we need to pass on this planet to future generations in a responsible way. Now, recognizing what you said, we recognize that as well, and a big user of fuel, there have been many initiatives over time more successful with more technology to convert from fossil fuel to other sources of fuel to run the military because it would make the biggest difference. Transportation, defense, these are two of the biggest, can make the biggest difference in all of that.
Speaker Pelosi: (26:24)
And that is something we’re very, very focused on. As I say, the Defense Department sees this systemically that we have to stop it as a national security issue. And one way to do that is to stop our dependence on fossil fuels, which exacerbate the climate crisis. With that, I thank you all for being here. Unfortunately, they’re telling us they have to clean the room. I didn’t know about that, but maybe you do. But I thank you all for joining us and we’ll be around for a couple of days to catch us to answer questions. And perhaps we can even come together if the room is cleaned up for us and forever who comes next.
Speaker Pelosi: (27:03)
Thank you all very much.