Remarks by VP Harris at COP28’s Session, “Fast-Tracking the Just, Equitable, and Orderly Energy Transition”
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, and good afternoon to everyone.
It is good to be here with the leaders who are present from government, from civil society, and philanthropy. And I want to start by thanking you all for your partnership in taking on, of course, one of the most urgent issues of our time.
So, our nations gathered 28 years ago in Berlin, Germany, at COP1. At that time, many doubted the threat posed by the climate crisis. Twenty years later, there is no doubt.
Across our world, communities are choked by drought, washed out by floods, and decimated by hurricanes. Wildfire smoke darkens our skies, and rising seas threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.
The urgency of this moment is clear. The clock is no longer just ticking, it is banging. And we must make up for lost time.
And we cannot afford to be incremental. We need transformative change and exponential impact. As nations, we must have the ambition that is necessary to meet this moment.
We must lead with courage and conviction, and we must treat the climate crisis as the existential threat that it truly is. It is, dare I say, our duty and our obligation. Not a choice.
President Biden and I feel a deep sense of responsibility in this moment. We invested roughly a trillion dollars over the next 10 years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, boost climate resilience, and support adaptation, and build a clean energy economy.
The largest investment in climate not only in the history of our country but in the history of the world.
Today, the United States is proud to join more than 115 nations in a commitment to double energy efficiency and to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030.
And because of our historic investments, the United States is on a path to meet these goals.
This year alone, the United States has built more than 30 gigawatts of solar energy, which will generate, we are proud to say, more power than 15 Hoover Dams.
And to carry that renewable energy from where it is generated to where it is needed most, we are building thousands of miles of more efficient, high-voltage transmission lines.
To implement increased energy efficiency, we are also helping millions of Americans install energy upgrades in their homes and their businesses.
We have also invested billions of dollars in clean energy research and development to continue our nation’s leadership in clean energy innovation.
And we understand the whole world will benefit from our work. When the United States increases renewable energy production and innovation, it lowers the cost and boosts the efficiency of renewable energy technology around the globe, which, of course, makes it easier and more affordable for countries around the world to meet their climate goals.
And I will note: Crucially, our collective pledge today to rapidly increase renewable energy also includes a call for all nations to stop building new, unabated coal power plants — a type of power plant that the United States stopped building more than a decade ago.
The climate crisis has emphasized that our world is interconnected and interdependent. And to meet these global challenges, we must have global collaboration.
As Vice President, I have partnered with Caribbean leaders, including Prime Minister Terrance Drew — yes — (applause) — and Mia Mottley and others to launch a new initiative to build climate resilience and renewable energy for island nations.
Earlier this year, I was proud to be in Zambia, where we secured $7 billion in private-sector investment for initiatives such as climate-smart agriculture and renewable energy projects across the continent of Africa.
Last month, I launched the Women in the Sustainable Economy initiative for job training and support for women in the blue and green economies — an initiative that, in just the past few weeks, has generated $480 million in new public, private sec- — and public- and private-sector commitments, bringing our total to $1.4 billion.
And to ensure that developing countries can build a clean energy economy, today I am proud to announce that the United States is launching a new partnership to help build clean energy supply chains around the globe.
We are also announcing $568 million in concessional lending as a part of this partnership to help drive investment in clean energy manufacturing.
I will close, then, with this: As Vice President, I have had the privilege to meet with young climate leaders from across the United States and around the world.
No matter where they come from, these young leaders have something in common. They — they understand the urgency of this moment and they fight with conviction, knowing we still have time to make a difference.
So, let us all share in their sense of urgency and their optimism.
Let us all lead, then, with ambition and conviction.
Despite the profound challenges we face and the time that is moving quickly, let us harness the power that we have together to build a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous future for this generation and for generations to come.
I thank you.