WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – Bringing 40 heads of state together for two days of virtual climate talks created the most visible role yet for John Kerry, the White House’s special envoy for climate.
With Friday’s (April 24) end of a summit that focused on what nations need to do to curb planet-warming emissions, the top US climate diplomat moved to reframe the moment as a historic economic opportunity.
“I think the reason the banks and asset managers are pledging to net zero is because they know this is an area where the demand is going to be,” Kerry said in an interview on Friday. “And they believe they’re going to be able to invest and make money.
That message fits with one of President Joe Biden’s consistent climate themes. The green transition will generate millions of jobs and trillions in investment opportunities, all of which can be shared around the world.
The second day of the summit brought together executives, labour leaders, bankers and technology developers. There was consensus that fighting climate change can bring about an economic boon, marking a big shift from the recent past in which shifting to clean energy has been dismissed by many as simply too expensive.
In fact, Kerry stressed in the interview, the cost of ignoring the climate crisis is now higher than the cost of fighting it. And the benefits are increasingly obvious. As he told participants at the summit on Friday: “The world’s largest market in history is opening before our eyes.”
Kerry sat down on Friday afternoon with Bloomberg to discuss the climate summit and assess the ways nations are starting to embrace the idea that climate action is an advantage rather than an expense. He made headlines by emphasising President Biden’s interest in adopting a border adjustment tax, something the European Union plans to use to impose tariffs on imports from places weak climate policies.
The following interview has been edited and condensed.
Q: Thank you for joining us at the end of two long days. What do you think was accomplished?