US Pres. Obama’s speech during APEC 2015 CEO Summit
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 The old rules that said we cannot grow our economies and protect our environment at the same time, those are outdated.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.