Now is a critical time for climate change response. In December, world leaders will convene at the UN Climate Conference in Paris to reach a comprehensive agreement to address and work towards eliminating the threat of climate change around the world.
This issue of climate change has been a personal one for Secretary John Kerry for many years, since he helped organize the first climate hearings in the Senate in the 1980s, and even earlier when he helped organize Earth Day in Massachusetts after his return from Vietnam.
But it should also be a personal one for everyone, because we all have a stake in ensuring a healthy planet for ourselves and for future generations. That is why this week, the State Department is convening leaders from business, government, non-profits, and the academic community at the Secretary’s Climate and Clean Energy Forum on October 20 and 21.
Co-hosted with Georgetown University and Google, the Forum aims to highlight innovative approaches to adaptation and resilience to climate change and reinforce efforts by policy makers to attract investment in climate and clean energy projects. Secretary Kerry will deliver opening remarks to launch the Forum on October 20 and will also participate in a discussion with Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia and Co-Chair of the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment and Co-Founder of GMO Jeremy Grantham.
The Forum will also highlight the successes of U.S. government programs facilitating private investment in climate change solutions and clean energy projects. This effort to bring together key stakeholders, including the private sector, demonstrates the Obama Administration’s commitment to a whole-of-government approach to this global challenge. Multiple U.S. government agencies -- from the Departments of State, Energy, and Treasury, to the Millennium Challenge Corporation, USAID, and OPIC -- provide programs specifically designed to facilitate private investment into emerging markets for climate change and clean energy initatives. By showcasing these efforts the conference organizers hopes to encourage new collaboration between the public and private sectors in developing a pipeline of climate-focused projects into emerging markets.
Climate change is a real threat, and both business and government have an important role to play in acting on the challenges it presents. While billions of dollars of private investment are committed each year to clean energy and climate change projects in emerging markets worldwide, we are still failing to capitalize on all the opportunities that exist. The Secretary's Forum aims to bridge the current information and commitment gaps, by encouraging policy makers and investors to work together to take full advantage of the opportunities in the sector.
The economic case for acting now on climate change and transition to clean energy is clear. Climate action saves money, boosts the economy, makes our planet healthier, and helps combat our most pressing challenge as a civilization--a rapidly changing climate. With the Paris process fast-approaching, private citizens, businesses, and investors can help shape the dialogue on climate change by reinforcing the importance of a successful outcome in conversations with their peers, project developers, and policymakers at all levels of government.
About the Author: Andrew O'Brien is the Special Representative for Global Partnerships.
For more information:
- Learn more about the work of the Secretary's Office of Global Partnerships.
- Watch Secretary Kerry’s opening remarks at the Climate and Clean Energy Forum live on www.state.gov. at 9:15 EST on Tuesday, October 20, 2015.
- Visit http://investinclimate.org/ and follow #investinclimate and @GPatState on Twitter for updates.