Remarks by President Biden at the COP26 Leaders Statement

NOVEMBER 01, 2021
Scottish Event Campus
Glasgow, Scotland

THE PRESIDENT:  Ladies and gentlemen, to state the obvious, we meet with the eyes of history upon us and the profound questions before us.  It’s simple: Will we act?  Will we do what is necessary?  Will we seize the enormous opportunity before us?  Or will we condemn future generations to suffer?

This is the decade that will determine the answer.  This decade.  The science is clear: We only have a brief window left before us to raise our ambitions and to raise — to meet the task that’s rapidly narrowing.

This is a decisive decade in which we have an opportunity to prove ourselves.  We can keep the goal of limiting global warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius within our reach if we come together, if we commit to doing our part of each of our nations with determination and with ambition.  That’s what COP26 is all about.

Glasgow must be the kickoff of a decade — a decade of ambition and innovation to preserve our shared future.

Climate change is already ravaging the world.  We’ve heard from many speakers.  It’s not a hypothetical; it’s not a hypothetical threat.  It’s destroying people’s lives and livelihoods and doing it every single day.

It’s costing our nations trillions of dollars.  Record heat and drought are fueling more widespread and more intense wildfires in some places and crop failures in others.  Record flooding and what used to be a once-in-a-century storms are now happening every few years.

In the past few months, the United States has experienced all of this, and every region of the world can tell similar stories.  And in an age where this pandemic has made so painfully clear that no nation can wall its all — wall itself off from borderless threats, we know that none of us can escape the worse that’s yet to come if we fail to seize this moment.

But, ladies and gentlemen, within the growing catastrophe, I believe there’s an incredible opportunity, not just for the United States but for all of us.  We’re standing at an inflection point in world history.  We have the ability to invest in ourselves and build an equitable clean-energy future and in the process create millions of good-paying jobs and opportunities around the world — cleaner air for our children, where bountiful oceans, healthier forests and ecosystems for our planet.

We can create an environment that raises the standard of living around the world.  And this is a moral imperative, but it’s also an economic imperative — if we fuel greater growth, new jobs, and better opportunities for all our people.

And as we see current volatility in energy prices, rather than cast it as a reason to back off our clean energy goals, we must view it as a call to action.

High energy prices only — only reinforce the urgent need to diversiry [sic] — diversify sources, double down on clean energy deployment, and adapt promising new clean-energy technologies so we cannot ove- — where you don’t remain overly reliant on one source of power to power our economies and our communities.

It’s in the self-interest of every single nation.  And this is a chance, in my view, to make a generational investment

in our economic resilience and in our workers and our communities throughout the world.  That’s what we’re going to do in the United States.

My Build Back Better framework will make historic investments in clean energy, the most significant investment

to deal with the climate crisis that any advanced nation has made ever.

We’re going to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by well over a gigaton by 2030, while making it more affordable for consumers to save on their own energy bills with tax credits for things like installing solar panels, weatherizing their homes, lowering energy prices.  We’ll also deliver cleaner air and water for our children, electrifying fleets of school buses, increasing credits for electric vehicles, and addressing legacy pollution.

It will incentivize clean energy manufacturing, building the solar panels and wind turbines that are growing energy markets of the future, which will create good-paying union jobs for American workers — and something that none of us should lose sight of.

When I talk to the American people about climate change, I tell them it’s about jobs.  It’s about workers who will lay thousands of miles of transmission lines of clean, modern, resilient power grid.  The autoworkers who will build the next generation of electric vehicles and electricians who will install a nationwide network of 500,000 vehicle stations to power them throughout my country.  The engineers who will design new carbon capture systems, and the construction workers who will make them a reality.  The farmers who will not only help fight global hunger but also use the soil to fight climate change.  The communities that will revitalize themselves around new industries and opportunities.

And because we are taking all these actions, the United States will be able to meet the ambitious target I set in the Leaders’ Summit on Climate back in April, reducing the U.S. emissions by 50 to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

We’ll demonstrate to the world the United States

is not only back at the table but hopefully leading by the power of our example.

I know it hasn’t been the case, and that’s why my administration is working overtime to show that our climate commitment is action, not words.

On my very first day in office, I took action to return the United States to the Paris Agreement.  Since then, our administration has been hard at work unlocking clean energy breakthroughs to drive down the cost of technologies that will require us to do — to achieve net-zero emissions, and working with the private sector on the next generation of technologies that will power a clean economy of the future.

Over the next several days, the United States will be announcing several new initiatives that demonstrate our commitment to providing innovative solutions across multiple sectors, from agriculture to oil and gas, to combatting deforestration — deforestation, to tackling hard and to abate industries.

We’re planning for a both short-term sprint to 2030 that will keep 1.5 degrees Celsius in reach and for a marathon that will take us — take us to the finish line and transform the largest economy in the world into a thriving, innovative, equitable, and just clean-energy engine of net-zero — for a net-zero world.

That’s why today I’m releasing the U.S. long-term strategy, which presents a vision of achieving the United States’ goal of net-zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050 and reinforces an absolutely critical nature of taking bold action with the — in the decisive decade.

We’re also going to try to do our part when it comes to helping the rest of the world take action as well.  We want to do more to help countries around the world, especially developing countries, accelerate their clean-energy transition, address pollution, and ensure the world we all must share a cleaner, safer, healthiest planet.  And we have an obligation to help.

And the United Nations — at the United Nations in September, I announced that my administration is working with the Congress to quadruple our climate finance support for developing countries by 2024, including a significant increase in support for adaptation efforts.

This commitment has made possible to each of our collective goals of mobilizing $100 billion annually for climate finance.  But mobilizing finance at the scale necessary to meet the incredible need is an all-hands-on-deck effort.

As other speakers today have mentioned, governments and the private sector, and multilateral development banks must also do their work to go from millions to billions to trillions to — necessary affect to this transition.

Today, I’m also submitting a new Adaptation Communication laying out how we will implement the global goal of adaptation, as well as announcing our first-ever contribution to the Adaptation Fund.

But our commitment is about more than just financing;

that’s a critical piece of it.  We’re also going to support solutions across the board.

In the lead-up to this gathering, the United States joined our G7 partners to launch a Build Back Better World initiative.  We also reconvened the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate to launch transformative actions and to raise ambition.

And together with the European Union, we are launching a Global Methane Pledge to collectively reduce methane emissions — one of the most potent greenhouse gases — by at least 30 percent by the end of the decade.

More than 70 countries have already signed up to support the rapid reduction of methane pollution, and I encourage every nation to sign on.  It’s the single-most effective strategy we have to slow global warming in the near term.

My friends, if we are to recognize that a better, more hopeful future of — every nation has to do its part with ambitious targets to keep 1.5 degrees in reach and specific plans as to how to get there, especially the major economies.

It’s imperative that we support developing nations so they can be our partners in this effort.  Right now, we’re still falling short.  There’s no more time to hang back or sit on the fence or argue amongst ourselves.

This is the challenge of our collective lifetimes.  The existential thrength [sic] — threat to human existence as we know it.  And every day we delay, the cost of inaction increases.

So let this be the moment that we answer history’s call

here in Glasgow.  Let this be the start of decade of transformative action that preserves our planet and raises the quality of life for people everywhere.

We can do this.  We just have to make a choice to do it.

So, let’s get to work.  And thank you.

Those of us who are responsible for much of the deforestation and all the problems we have so far have an overwhelming obligation to the nations who, in fact, were not there, have not done it.  And we have to help much more than we have thus far.

God bless you all, and may God save the planet.  Thank you.  (Applause.)