Energy & Environment

Kerry: ‘No government is going to solve’ climate change

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry on Tuesday said he believed the private sector was more likely to find solutions to climate change than government.

“I was convinced, and I remain convinced, no government is going to solve this problem,” Kerry said in remarks at the Institute of International Finance’s 2021 Washington Policy Summit.

“The solution is going to come from the private sector, and what government needs to do is create the framework within which the private sector can do what it does best, which is allocate capital and innovate and begin to take the framework that’s been created. … We need to go after this as if we’re really at war.”

Kerry said the private sector will reap financial benefits from the energy transition.

“It’s a transition, yes, some people are going to have do things differently and begin to shift expenditure, shift priority and infrastructure transition and so forth,” he said. “But in all of that, none of that happens without jobs … without people working, whether it’s pipefitters, electricians, construction workers across the board.”

Kerry predicted a “race to the new technology, whether it’s direct-air capture or better and more affordable storage, more effective geothermal … there are technology opportunities that are going to create enormous wealthy for those that are venturesome and go out and chase those gold pots.”

The former secretary of State added that infrastructure and grid modernization “is critical to our remaining a powerful force, to jump-starting our economy post-COVID.”

Kerry emphasized the need to “reassert American leadership” on climate, noting that the U.S. comprises 15 percent of worldwide emissions, while “China is about 30 percent and when you add the [European Union] you’re well over 50 percent.”

“So three entities are absolutely essential to helping make progress here,” he added.

Asked about China’s willingness to partner with the U.S. on climate goals, Kerry said “we don’t know yet,” conceding a “pretty contentious meeting in Alaska” between Beijing diplomats and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

Kerry said the administration hopes to “pick up where we left off in 2015 working with China to bring about the Paris agreement, because it’s essential … if the United States were to go to zero tomorrow, we would still have a massive problem of climate crisis. That’s because China is 30 percent and going up.”

Tags Antony Blinken John Kerry
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