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9 MINUTE READ
December 15, 2023

 

 

 

Text as prepared. A full recording of the press conference is available on the UNFCCC website.

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everyone — and thank you for joining us today.

I want to first thank the entire UAE team, the other Parties, and the secretariat for their spirit of cooperation and diligent work over the past two weeks to finalize this first global stocktake.

The global stocktake addresses an issue that is at the core of the climate crisis. For the first time at a COP, fossil fuels have been on the table as a major part of our negotiations.

The decision embraces transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems so as to achieve net-zero by 2050. And the first and easiest thing that countries need to do to make this commitment a reality is to stop building new unabated coal.

I am grateful for the efforts of people around the world who helped us reach this outcome. Just a few months ago, youth organizers led more than 70,000 people in marching through the streets around the UN General Assembly to call for action on fossil fuels.

Clearly, we would have liked to have seen ever greater ambition, as called for by these organizers and frontline communities around the world – particularly small island states for whom we know this is an immediate crisis. And we will continue to press for a more rapid transition, in recognition of the risks they face.

The United States supported this call for clearer language about the need to largely phase out fossil fuels, but we know this was a compromise between many Parties. And that does not detract from its significance.

In particular, we would highlight that the use of any transitional fuels needs to be aligned with 1.5 degrees, which means that they will play a limited and temporary role while we largely phase out fossil fuels in our energy systems by 2050, with abatement technologies focusing on hard to abate sectors.

As agreed to in the Sunnylands Statement that we and the PRC released prior to COP, this document calls for the next set of NDCs to be economy-wide and cover all greenhouse gases. In addition, it includes a much stronger and clearer call on 1.5-aligned NDCs than we have ever heard before.

The direction to triple renewable energy, double energy efficiency, phase down unabated coal power, and halt and reverse deforestation and degradation by 2030 will be foundational to our efforts for the next seven years and beyond.

This text also aligns with the decisions the marketplace has already made. The message coming out of this COP is that we are moving away from fossil fuels – and we are not turning back.

The United States is leading the charge on this on the home front through investments in the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – investments that are bolstering our economic and energy security, while also bringing down the costs of clean technologies globally.

In addition to the progress on mitigation, this COP has also successfully delivered a framework on the global goal on adaptation, providing momentum to increase resilience to the increasingly severe climate impacts facing communities around the world.

On finance, this outcome makes abundantly clear that we must transform the international financial system to pursue and achieve our climate goals.

The global stocktake underscores that we must continue to drive investments in climate action at all levels, put policies in place to incentivize change, and shift finance away from the things that put our shared prosperity at risk.

With 190 countries coming together around this result, it’s clear that no one country can do this alone.

And this decision makes clear that we will stand by and support our partners in developing countries every step of the way, as they take ambitious steps to build clean energy systems and resilient futures for everyone.

President Biden is committed to these efforts. Last week, the United States announced that U.S. climate finance is expected to exceed $9.5 billion in 2023, on track to meet the President’s pledge of over $11 billion in 2024 – which includes a significant scaling up of adaptation finance through the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE).

Let’s also not lose sight of what we achieved in the first week of this conference – starting with the unprecedented adoption of a major item on the first day of a COP to operationalize loss and damage funding arrangements, leading to over $700 million in immediate pledges from both developed and developing countries.

We also made major announcements across a number of sectors – from $1 billion in new grant funding for methane to over 40 new announcements to cut emissions from shipping.

And we made progress in elevating critical issues such as gender, health, peace, and food systems, some of which for the first time had dedicated days at the COP.

In closing – I’ll note that I was privileged to lead the U.S. delegation as Secretary of State when we produced the Paris Agreement in 2015. At that time, the world was headed toward as much as 4 degrees of warming. As a response, Parties came together to try and limit warming to well below 2 degrees and aspiring to 1.5.

Now it is crystal clear how important it is to limit to 1.5 – and that is repeated throughout this decision.

So it is a privilege to be here, eight years later, after the adoption of the first global stocktake – with nations around the world committed to taking the actions necessary to keep 1.5C alive.

Thank you. I’ll now take your questions.