ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Thank you so much. Hi, everybody.
So grateful, Dominic, to you for your leadership and stitching together of all the various elements here, today.
The partnership that you have demonstrated across decades, building crucial links between the public and private sectors to address some of our gravest challenges – from climate change to food security, and of course, inextricably linked now the two.
For years, leaders have gathered at this climate conference raising the alarm about our climate future, urging nations to live up to their commitments on cutting carbon out of the atmosphere. Each of us cites the latest study, describes the latest storm or drought or climate-induced disaster, and these days there are many to choose from.
Each of us attempts to ratchet up the pressure as our global climate ratchets up in degrees.
This year, the United States comes to COP with more than these lamentations. In August, President Biden signed the historic Inflation Reduction Act, which commits $369 billion towards addressing the climate crisis – the single largest climate investment in American history. This investment will transform the carbon intensity of America’s economy and it will reduce our country’s carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030.
But America’s efforts to cut carbon do not stop at our shores. Over the last decade, we, at USAID and across the U.S. government, have helped countries around the world install tens of thousands of megawatts of clean energy.
In Southeast Asia, thanks to $7 billion in investments in clean energy since 2016, we have helped install nearly 10,000 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity. And we have prevented more than 90 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of pulling every car off the road in Australia for an entire year.
In sub-Saharan Africa, our Power Africa initiative has helped bring first-time electricity access to nearly 160 million people since 2013. In that time, the initiative has helped install more than 120 renewable energy projects, generating almost 2,500 megawatts of clean power, with an additional 5,000 currently financed. By 2030, Power Africa will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than an estimated 60 million metric tons.
And we’ve helped communities conserve forests in the Amazon, which pull carbon dioxide out of the air, as you well know. Last year alone, USAID’s conservation efforts protected over 50 million hectares of the Amazon rainforest, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 34 million tons – the equivalent of shutting down nine coal plants for an entire year.
Now, we’re working aggressively to expand these efforts to other parts of the world.
I’m pleased to announce an expansion of the Comprehensive Action for Climate Change Initiative. The Initiative, initially launched in Glasgow last year, targeted USAID assistance to help four countries in Africa meet the climate goals set forth in the Paris Agreement. Now, USAID is expanding the Initiative to support an additional 17 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean, working specifically with local communities, not just governments, so that people reap the benefits of the green energy transition.
Now, again, and this will be a recurrent theme here today. But it’s not enough to transition from a dirty energy sector to a clean one. That transition must also be just. It must benefit the very communities that are most threatened by climate change.
Perhaps, nowhere is the need to focus on a just transition more important than in the race for green minerals – raw materials like copper, cobalt, and zinc that are crucial to producing newer batteries, wind turbines, and solar panels.
Mining these minerals, particularly in poorer countries, is already heavily susceptible to corruption and to labor abuse. We’ve seen this pattern in many oil rich countries before – where corporate owners hoard profits, exploit local communities, and despoil environments as they and government officials enrich themselves. We can’t let green minerals become the source of the next resource curse.
In an effort to address and prevent corruption and labor abuses, I’m pleased, as well, to announce USAID’s new Just Energy Transition Minerals Challenge.
We are calling on innovators from every sector and every geography to put forth their ideas to help us address corruption in the green minerals sector. Thanks to new commitments by Amazon, the BHP Foundation, and the Chandler Foundation, we’ll provide a total of $3 million to the best plans.
I urge everyone here today – governments, local organizations, communities, and businesses – to take concrete action. We must come together to not just stave off the worst effects of climate change but to power a renewed pursuit of human rights and equality. We must make sure the green transition is, indeed, a just transition.
Thank you so much.