US Pres. Obama’s speech during APEC 2015 CEO Summit

Obama 3

Image courtesy of US Embassy Manila 

My message to you today is that your  businesses can do right by your bottom lines and  by our planet and future generations. The old  rules that said we cannot grow our economies and  protect our environment at the same time, those  are outdated.
United States President Barack Obama’s speech during APEC 2015 CEO Summit

(Makati, Shangri-La, Manila)

November 18, 2015
It’s wonderful to be back in the Philippines.
We  appreciate President Aquino and the Filipino  people for their warm welcome and for their  leadership in hosting this year’s APEC summit. So to our Filipino hosts: Salamat po.
This is my fifth opportunity to be with you at  the APEC CEO Summit. I’m halfway through an  around-the-world trip to Turkey, the Philippines,  and Malaysia — I am crossing every timezone —  and at each stop, we’re working to boost economic growth that’s inclusive, that benefits all people.
In Antalya, the G20 nations committed to take specific steps to boost growth, including  investments in areas like infrastructure and  small business development.
Here at APEC, we’re working to deepen our  economic cooperation in a way that is sustainable  for our communities.
And in Kuala Lumpur, I’ll discuss one of the most important steps we can take to grow our economies and that’s the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
As business leaders in the Asia-Pacific, you have a great stake in each of these issues. But the  topic I want to focus on today will have an even  greater impact — not just on your companies, but  on every country in this region and around the  globe — and I’m talking about the urgent and  growing threat of climate change. A challenge, but also, I would argue, an opportunity.
No nation is immune to the consequences of a changing climate. But with its many low-lying  islands, its coastal regions that are vulnerable  to flooding and land loss, few regions have more  at stake in meeting this challenge than the  Asia-Pacific region. 
Last year in fact the island-nation of Kirabati  was purchased, or purchased a plot of land in  case its people — future climate-change refugees  — need to seek safety from the rising sea. 
And here in the Philippines, you’re barely  removed by about two years from super typhoon Haiyan, a storm that claimed thousands of lives and caused billions of dollars in damage. 
We know that no single weather event is  necessarily caused by climate change alone, but  the patterns and the science don’t lie. Temperatures and sea levels are rising, ice caps  are melting, storms are strengthening. 
If we want to prevent the worst effects of  climate change before it’s too late, the time to act is now, and it is going to affect people’s  bottomlines. Agricultural production will be  impacted if we do not get on top of this.  Economic disruptions, we will be able to price  the costs in serious ways — already insurance  companies are factoring it in to their  determinations. 
That’s why in Paris just two weeks from now, we  have to come together and round an ambitious framework in order to protect the one planet that we have while we still can. 
Now the good news is already more than 160  countries, representing about 90 percent of global emissions, have put forward climate targets for post-2020. But we’ve got a lot more work to do. Nevertheless I’m optimistic we can  get an outcome that we’re all proud of because we  understand what’s at stake. 
An ambitious agreement in Paris will prompt  investors to invest in clean energy technologies because that the world is committed to a low- carbon future. That’s a signal to the private sector to go all-in on renewable energy  technologies. And if we can get an agreement  done, it could drive new jobs and new  opportunities and investment in a global economy  that frankly needs a boost right now. 
One of the topics of discussion on G20 was where  can we generate sufficient demand and the United  States economy is doing relatively well, but we  are impacted by weakening demand around the  world. 
China’s undergoing a necessary transition in its  economy, but it means that its growth rates will  not be necessarily as fast. A lot of other  emerging markets have seen slow growth or, in  some cases like Brazil, contraction. 
And as a consequence, the possibility to start  investing in clean energy, power generation that  is sustainable, leapfrogging old technologies and  getting into new technologies all could provide  an enormous boost, there’s a lot of capital out there looking to invest. And if we send a signal that this is something that every nation around  the world is serious about, it can be an enormous  generator of opportunity.
So the United States is leading on this issue.  Since I took office we’ve doubled the distance new cars will go on a gallon of gas by 2025.  We’re producing three times as much windpower as  we were when I came into office. And we are  producing about 20 times as much solar power as  when I came into office.
Thanks in part to investments we’ve made there  are already parts in America where clean power  from wind or sun is actually cheaper than  dirtier, conventional power.
Since 2005, even as our economy is growing,  America has cut its total of carbon pollution by  more than any other country on earth. And other  nations are stepping up as well.
Last year renewable energy accounted of half of  all the powerplants built around the world. For  the first time, China has pledged to peak and  then reduce its carbon emissions. Here in the  Philippines, you’re boosting wind power. APEC is  working to double renewable energy and reduce  energy intensity by 45 percent over the next two  decades. And through the Green Climate Fund and  other avenues, the international community is  helping developing nations to adapt to climate  change and, as I said, leapfrog over the dirtier  phases of development. 
One of the things we’ve tried to emphasize in  Antalya, and what we’re emphasizing throughout  this climate discussion is: There is not a  contradiction between growth development and  being good stewards of the planet. They are  complementary.
We have to break out from the mindset that says  that if we’re doing something about climate  change, that slows growth. We have to accelerate  it, and the fact that President Xi and I, when we  met, we were able to put forward an accord as the  two largest emitters sends, I think,  a pretty  strong signal to other countries that we see this  not just as a challenge, but an opportunity as  well.
Now, the problem is governments can’t do it by  themselves. The good news is that more and more  companies are realizing that climate change  presents a new business opportunity. And we see   this in America: Google, Apple, Cosco are among  the world’s largest corporate buyers of renewable  energy. Wal-Mart has installed more onsite solar  capacity than any business in America. Last  month, I announced that 81 companies have joined  our American Businesses Act on Climate Pledge and  more pledges are coming in every day, and these  companies committed a total of at least $160  billion in areas like clean energy, combatting  deforestation, reducing emissions, and water  usage. 
And this progress is not limited to big  businesses. You’ve got small businesses and folks  up and down the supply chain who are investing in  energy efficiency and clean energy, too, and  oftentimes they are finding that they’re saving  money while operating in a cleaner way. 
We’re seeing great examples across Asia as well.  The private sector is getting involved in  renewable energy in countries like Vietnam. Right  here in the Philippines we’re seeing major  investments in massive wind and solar projects.
So, my message to you today is that your  businesses can do right by your bottom lines and  by our planet and future generations. The old  rules that said we cannot grow our economies and  protect our environment at the same time, those  are outdated. We can transition to clean energy  without squeezing businesses and consumers. When  we double fuel efficiency on cars, that’s money  in people’s pockets because they’re spending less  money at the gas station.
That’s true across our economy. And this is the  way the world is headed. It’s gonna go in fits  and starts. There’s gonna be some countries and  some sectors that resist, but it is inextricable — it is inevitable — that we move in this direction, and I hope that the companies that are represented here see this as an opportunity.