November 23rd, 2015
04:33 PM ET

Secretary of State John Kerry on COP21 in Paris

CNN’s FAREED ZAKARIA GPS featured an exclusive interview with Secretary of State John Kerry discussing the U.S. participation in the upcoming COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris. This interview was taped in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the State Department on Thursday, Nov. 12.

MANDATORY CREDIT for reference and usage: “CNN’s FAREED ZAKARIA GPS”

HIGHLIGHT

Secretary Kerry on advance target setting prior to the upcoming multinational summit on climate change in Paris

Now that's why President Obama reached an agreement with President Xi - a ground-breaking, historic agreement - to join together to announce the intended emissions reductions that both countries would make as part of the Paris negotiations in hopes of inspiring other countries to do the same. Well, guess what? Now over 150 countries have announced their targets for emissions reductions, including India.  Now, they're not enough yet and - for - by anybody - we've all got to move more….

TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: Let me ask you about climate change, Mr. Secretary. You are embarking on a big push for the Paris summit. You gave a speech this week. In that speech, you were very eloquent in criticizing critics in the United States who are still skeptical about climate change.

But what do you say to those who say, look, that's all well and good, but the real skeptics, in a sense, are countries like India and Indonesia and, to an extent, even China, despite some changes, that still continue to use massive amounts of coal, emit huge amounts of carbon dioxide; and that whatever the United States or Western - or Europe may do, that's the real problem; and in those countries, they want to develop, they're not going to stop themselves from developing; the Paris treaty is not legally binding; so we will just cripple ourselves without doing much for climate change?

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, Fareed, that's the challenge. And it doesn't make a lot of sense to develop and kill yourself as you do it. It - you know, we've learned lessons about the downsides of the way in which we have produced energy - electricity and power and transportation and so forth - over centuries now. And we have to move to a low-carbon economy, all of us.

If the United States, all by itself, tomorrow, were to drive, you know, carpool to work and bicycle to work and plant a bunch of trees and lower our emissions to zero, we can't solve the problem alone. India, China, every country in the world has to be part of it.

Now that's why President Obama reached an agreement with President Xi - a ground-breaking, historic agreement - to join together to announce the intended emissions reductions that both countries would make as part of the Paris negotiations in hopes of inspiring other countries to do the same.

Well, guess what? Now over 150 countries have announced their targets for emissions reductions, including India.

Now, they're not enough yet and - for - by anybody - we've all got to move more. But if we come together in Paris - and I believe we can and hopefully will - to have an ambitious set of targets that we will all try to reach - not, you know - that we all agree to voluntarily try to reach - that will be an incredible signal to the marketplace, which already is seeing investment move into clean, alternative renewable different kinds of energy production. The solution to climate change is energy policy.

So it's a question of what choices we need to make in order to preserve our ability on this planet to produce food, to have water, to live where people live today without massive dislocations of human beings, without massive damage from intensified storms and wildfires and droughts, and all of the downsides that we're already beginning to measure.

So this is actually opportunity, not downside. And I think Paris will help define the full breadth of that opportunity. There’s going to be trillions of dollars that will be invested in these new lower-carbon energy sources, and I think it's going - it can - has the chance of transforming everybody's economy for the better.

ZAKARIA: But Mr. Secretary, these countries are announcing these limits - none of it is legally binding, because the treaty is not legally binding.

KERRY: Well, first of all, it's not a treaty, but it - there could be parts of it that are going to be legally binding. The targets themselves may not be. That, you know, is yet to be determined.

I recently made a comment about this, and people said, well the whole thing is not going to be legally binding. That's not accurate. There could be parts of it - the transparency, the accountability, the further down the road - I mean, there are different things.

All of that has yet to be decided. That will be decided in Paris.

ZAKARIA: Mr. Secretary, pleasure to have you on, sir.

KERRY: Thank you.

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