Virtual Meeting

Home and Abroad Public Forum: The Climate Crisis

Thursday, October 14, 2021
Speakers

David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, The Fight for Climate After COVID-19

Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami

Jay Precourt Provostial Chair Professor, Stanford University; Former Founding Director, Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, U.S. Department of Energy (2009-2012)

Presider

President, Council on Foreign Relations

This CFR Home and Abroad Public Forum discusses current and projected climate change, options for reducing emissions, and policies to help communities adapt to a changing climate. This event is part of CFR’s Home and Abroad series, which explores issues at the nexus of U.S. domestic and foreign policy that affect America’s role in the world.

 

HAASS: Well, thank you and welcome, one and all, or in this case one thousand and all, to this public forum on the climate change crisis. And the word “crisis” in this case is, unfortunately, all too apt. I’m Richard Haass. I’m president of the Council on Foreign Relations. We are one hundred years old. Just to be clear, I am not yet that age. The Council is an independent, nonpartisan institution created in the aftermath of World War I. We are a resource, we are a think tank, we publish Foreign Affairs magazine. We are an educational institution. We are a membership organization. And what we try to do is add analysis to the challenges facing the United States and other countries in this world we are all a part of.

What we are going to do today is focus on one particular set of challenges, which is climate change. We’ve got three extraordinary people to help guide us through this. I’ll introduce them in just a second. The order of events will be that—the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to ask all of you to participate in a poll. We’ll give you four questions. You’ll have a chance to answer. We’ll look at the answers right away. And then we’ll revisit this question at the end of the event, seventy-five minutes from now. And the idea is to see whether minds were changed, and if so how many, and in what direction. And after the poll, I will have a conversation with these three experts for about forty minutes, plus or minus. Then we’ll open it up to you for the remaining thirty minutes. And that will take us, again, to our end point.

Let me just very quickly introduce the three people who are going to help us understand this important set of issues. In no particular order: Alice Hill. Alice is the David Rubenstein senior fellow for energy and the environment here at the Council on Foreign Relations. She worked as a special assistant to President Obama and was director for resilience policy—and she will explain what that means later—on the National Security Council staff during that administration. She just published a book, The Fight for Climate After COVID-19.

Joining her is Katharine Mach. Katharine’s an associate professor at the department of environmental science policy at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. I think I’ve got that right. She has been active participant in many of the global scientific efforts that we’re going to be discussing today that have set the stage, the backdrop, factually, scientifically for the policy debate about what we might do about climate change.

And last, but not least, is Arun Majumdar. Arun is the—see if I got this right—the Jay Precourt Provostial Chair professor at Stanford University. He’s a cardinal. And he served as vice president for energy at a startup called Google. He was also the founding director at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Project Agency, what’s known as ARPA-E, not to be confused with DARPA, which is the Defense Department’s equivalent of an advanced research project agency.

Like I said, we’re going to—before I turn to them, I want to turn to you. So let’s rock and roll with the questions. You will see them on your device. In some cases, you will have to scroll down to get to the next question. As I said, there’s four.

First question: How concerned are you about the current and projected effects of climate? Very, somewhat, not very, not at all. Please vote.

Second question. Scroll up or down, depending upon your device. What do you think about the scale of U.S. efforts to combat climate change under the current Biden administration? Are we doing too much, about right, or not enough? Please vote.

Question three. Again, you may have to scroll depending upon your device. Do you have reservations about U.S. efforts to combat climate change? And if so, why? First is: No, I don’t have reservations. But if you do, yes, because I worry about the loss of jobs or economic slowdown. Two, because I don’t think we’re doing enough. Or, three, I believe the United States has done enough and others should do more. So please vote.

Question four, last but not least. How confident are you that international agreements will significantly lower and/or cap carbon emissions, and essentially deal effectively with the climate challenge? Are you very confident, somewhat, not very, or not at all confident that the world will come together to deal effectively with this issue? Please vote.

Now, we’re going to reveal the results of this. I’m not exactly sure how—ah, here we go. Here are the results. So eighty-four percent of you—overwhelmingly—are very concerned. Basically, ninty-seven percent of you are very or somewhat concerned about this issue. What do you think about U.S. efforts? That’s interesting, eighty percent of you—and it’s consistent with that—believe the United States is still not doing enough. Only sixteen percent of you are satisfied that we’ve got it exactly right.

Do you have reservations about U.S. efforts to combat climate change? A little bit more, but not—but still, two-thirds of you think the U.S. is not doing enough, and basically only sixteen percent of you are totally comfortable with where we are. Thirteen percent of you are worried about alleged economic costs. And question four, about how confident are you the world will get its act together, just over half of you are not very confident, two-thirds of you neither not very or not at all confident.

So we will—OK. So basically, we are very concerned, not confident the world will get this right, not believing the administration has it right. So I think I understand the drift of that. And, again, the purpose of this—it’s interesting to get that as a data point. And then we look forward to revisiting these questions when we are done. So let me start.

And I want to spend the first few minutes, because I—you know, we’ve got over a thousand people attending this. And it’s hard to know exactly what your background is. So I just want to make sure that we all start from a common point. And, Katharine, I may start with you actually just because you’ve been part of these international efforts the most, which is where are we with climate change? Essentially, where is the Earth and the oceans? How did we get here? What caused it? And even if people are wrong, and starting at 5:00 this afternoon the world finally came together and solved this problem, how much is still baked into the cake? What are we—what are we in for even if we essentially turned on a dime?

MACH: Great. Thank you, Richard.

I think where to start is, first of all, how do we know about the changing climate? It is absolutely crucial to recognize that there is a vast amount of science that has been going for many decades now to figure out just where are we with the changing climate? And there are many thousands of pages of these international reports taking stock of our best available science on the changing climate. So I’ll just give the cliff notes version. And I think a first key starting point is that warming of the climate system is unequivocal and it’s due to us. Our emissions of heat-trapping gases from energy, from cars, but also from agriculture and deforestation.

Next key point is that the warming that has already occurred, a little over 1 degree Celsius since preindustrial times. That’s a very abstract concept, but in terms of the history of the planet it’s a lot. And this warming already—

HAASS: About two degrees—that’s about two degrees Fahrenheit.

MACH: Yes. Yes, thank you.

HAASS: For those of us who are not Celsius oriented, yeah.

MACH: Yep. And the warming that has already occurred has had widespread, unprecedented impacts everywhere we look. And these are largely associated with extreme events—increasing heat, increasing drought, increasing flooding, increasing fires. We can get at this later on, especially from the side of how we deal with this effectively, as Alice will be describing. But also something that is really hitting Americans, whether in rural areas or in cities, and really affecting 190-plus countries around the globe. This is a global challenge.

The last two things I’d emphasize is that to solve this problem we need to rein in our emissions of heat-trapping gases. To limit the amount of warming that happens we need to shift to energy and land systems that are no longer putting these long-lived heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. It’s not of a question of if we make this shift, but when. And next, we simultaneously need to grapple with the fact that the impacts, whether it’s flooding, or heat, or wildfire, are already affecting communities. And so there’s a big role for preparedness as well. And all of that really is the full scope of science right now.

HAASS: OK. Well, thank you for setting the table. I want to hold off a few minutes on what we do about climate change, either to prevent more of it or to deal with that which it’s too late to prevent, that we’ve got to one way or another adapt to.

Arun, let me put a question to you. Which is—and we got at it a little bit in one of the polling issues—which is often people say, yeah, I’d like to do something about climate, but I’m worried about the economic cost. To what extent is that a useful framing? Or to what extent is that actually a truly flawed framing, that to think about the economy and the climate as somehow in tension. To what extent should they be understood more as potentially complementary?

MAJUMDAR: Well, thanks, Richard. Just to follow up on what Katharine said, most of the, you know, greenhouse gases that are being emitted—actually, a large chunk of it—is from our energy system. And energy is like the bedrock of our economy, right? If you turn out the lights, the power goes away, or if, you know, oil stops flowing, we are in trouble. So because of that, it is dealing—trying to reduce the carbon emissions, which is what is called mitigation—is connected to our energy system and thereby connected to our economy. So there’s a very strong connection.

What we’re realizing is that the twentieth century paradigm of developing our economy based on energy use, which is largely fossil energy use, leads to climate change, as Katharine described. And so what we are finding out is that the twentieth century paradigm of our economic growth is unsustainable, from a climate point of view. So we have to shift. But in that shift, one could view it as a challenge, or one could view it as an opportunity. And what is—what the Biden administration is trying to do is to connect the dots between economic development, infrastructure development of transmission lines, of CO2 pipelines, et cetera, as an economic development opportunity.

And frankly, for many of the developing world, there is an opportunity to leapfrog into new technologies and create the energy infrastructure to bring people out of poverty, improve their quality of life, with a new paradigm, as opposed to the twentieth century and nineteenth century paradigm. So I think it could be—it has to be viewed as an opportunity, because if you don’t then, of course, if you’re stuck in the twentieth century paradigm there will be job losses and things like that.

HAASS: And let me—one last framing question. And, Alice, I’m going to throw this one your way. Just say those who believe it’s not that serious a problem or believe the costs of dealing with it are too high prevail. What are the consequences for this country and the world if a few more decades go by and we do not make meaningful strides towards, to use the word Arun introduced, mitigating the problem—basically reducing carbon, heat—the emissions of gases that trap heat? What does the future then begin to look like?

HILL: The future will be filled with ever-greater disasters. As Arun and Katharine have described, we have these gases forming this blanket around the globe, which causes heating. The heating is delayed, however. So the question is how quickly we can stop these emissions so that we don’t get a really thick blanket, which will—like when you snuggle under a blanket in a cold night—your body begins to heat up. It heats up, the air heats up. That’s what’s happening around the globe.

And with that heat comes deeper droughts. We’re seeing this already all across the globe. We see extreme precipitation. That is what emergency managers call rain bombs, where so much rain falls all at once. We’ve seen this in Belgium, Europe saw it. Just dumping water. And of course, our infrastructure systems were built for the climate of the past, not for climate that just pours water over cities and there’s no place for the water to go.

We see extreme heat. And a very frightening aspect of climate change is the wet bulb temperature. That’s when it becomes so hot and humid that the human body can no longer perspire away the heat. And for agricultural workers, anyone who has to be outside for several hours—five to six hours—that can be a death sentence. And you can imagine how many people around the globe, some of them in already very hot, tropical areas, currently lack air conditioning. And that’s the answer for that issue. But if you have power interruptions, air conditioning will not solve that.

And then we will see extreme variability in the weather. We’re going to see the tundra already—the permafrost melting in our northern latitudes, which are heating up about twice as fast as the rest of the planet. And then, of course, we’ll see sea level rise, which brings very gradual flooding. But when you pack behind that increased storms—we see bigger storms—that pushes that wall of water deeper and deeper into land, making our freshwater salinated and causing massive flooding.

So many bad things ahead if we don’t get this under control, with many deep economic consequences. I’ll just add, Swiss Re, which is one of the largest reinsurance companies in the world—and of course, reinsurers insure insurance companies. So they are risk experts. They’re probably the best risk experts in the world. Swiss Re says, and this is their language, “this is the biggest long-term threat to the global economy.” They estimate that GDP will drop by 18 percent—global domestic product will drop by 18 percent by 2050 if we don’t get a handle on stopping the emissions, this pollution that we’re putting up in the atmosphere forming this blanket.

HAASS: OK. So I want to thank you all for setting the stage. Now we know—if anyone had any doubts about why we called this meeting the climate crisis, that doubt now should be resolved. This is—it’s both a present crisis as well as an even more dire longer-term crisis. And one has to think of it in both time horizons. But no one should think of it as just, quote/unquote, “a future crisis.” It’s already happening, but it will get worse if not a lot is done.

Let’s first now talk about the principal international effort for dealing with climate change, which loosely goes under the rubric of the Paris framework. In about, what, two weeks, plus or minus, many of the world’s leaders will be spending some time in Glasgow for the latest international gathering to deal with climate. I’m not sure who I should turn to, volunteer, about to explain both the nature of this framework, this approach, and both its successes but, even more important, its failures or limitations to date. I’m not sure which one of—just do a quick wave of the hands. Anyone want to take that?

OK, Katharine, we’ll send it to you first.

MACH: I suspect we all could give a tutorial on the Paris agreement. So the key global treaty to be aware of is called the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. It’s been around since the ’90s. And there have been a series of follow-on agreements among all governments of the world. The big one right now to be aware of is called the Paris agreement, which came into being in 2015. And the conference happening in Glasgow starting at the end of this month is a really big deal in terms of next steps of all governments around the world to the major goals of the Paris agreement. So major goal in terms of temperature is limiting warning below a 2 degree Celsius increase above preindustrial times, pursuing 1.5, while simultaneously prioritizing preparedness for the impacts that we can no longer avoid, as Alice described.

So we’ll see a lot of effort towards figuring out the next round of country pledges, ratcheting ambitions such that—right now these global pledges from every country add up to about a 3 degree Celsius trajectory. And the question is can we ratchet that down? Pull it closer to 2 (degrees), ideally 1.5 (degrees)? Which requires getting to net zero emissions by the middle of the century. We’re also going to see a lot of work on preparedness. There is an immense question of inequity globally in the climate challenge.

Many of the countries that have contributed the least to emissions historically—for example, very small island national governments—are profoundly exposed to the impacts that are a result of countries, like the United States, that have a huge burden in terms of our historic footprint. We’ll also see a lot of work on financing responses globally, both public and private finance, as well as the rulebook, making sure that this Paris agreement framework becomes a steady guide for action moving forward.

HAASS: I just wanted to underscore a word you used in the course of that very useful summary, which is the word “pledges.” For those of you who have not made it your life’s work monitoring the Paris process and the UN Framework Convention process, this is not an international agreement, if you will, from the top down, that—where governments are instructed what they need to do. Rather, this is a process, if you will, from the bottom up, where governments make commitments about their own trajectory when it comes to emissions over the future.

So what Katharine, as I understand her saying, was right now the problem is that the pledges, if you add them all up, if you basically do the math, the pledges don’t get us to where we want to get, which is limiting the increase in the temperature to basically a degree and a half Celsius. It’s roughly twice that. And that assumes that all the pledges are met. So one way to think about it is we’re only halfway where we need to be. And this is not a process that can force governments to become more ambitious or to behave differently, but this is an incentivization process, if you will. It’s an inducement process, rather than a mandatory process.

Alice, you correct me often. Is that essentially right or do I only get a B-minus?

HILL: No, you got a very high grade. You’re absolutely right, the pledges, the promises that nations have brought forward so far just don’t add up. They won’t keep us safe. In fact, it looks like if we—based on the pledges that were submitted at the deadline, which was in July of this year, emissions would increase by sixteen percent. That just means more heating. So we need far greater ambition. And I think, as Katharine has pointed out, the expectation is that ambition should come from the developed world, because it’s the developed world that has been, since we started the industrial revolution, throwing up huge amounts of greenhouse gases.

In fact, the United States is historically the largest emitter. So at this Conference of the Parties, this big pow wow that will happen in Glasgow, you’ll hear from developed nations who really haven’t been—developing nations, which really haven’t had a chance to develop on the path that we did. They’re going to say: Hey, wait a minute, we need you, developed nations who are at fault for this, to pay us more money to help us have clean energy so that we can develop like you. And also, by the way, we are being really hit badly by these impacts—sea level rise, bigger storms, heat—and we need your help to adapt. And we need a lot of money. And this will be a highly contentious issue, in my opinion, at the negotiations.

HAASS: Before I turn to Arun, I’ve got a specific question for him, I also, though, want to make clear that one country, which is still technically defined as developing, happens to be China. And China has passed the United States as the world’s largest emitter or current contributor to climate change, and is still not on a trajectory, even close, to what the world would want to see if the world is going to meet its—these collective targets. So I just want to put that on the table.

Arun, you’re a specialist in energy and technology. And what I think we’ve just heard is unless something changes diplomacy is not going to get us where we want to get. And we can circle back to that, but at the moment diplomacy seems to offer only at best part of the answer. So say a little bit about green technology. To what extent will—is success less likely to depend upon what John Kerry and his counterparts to negotiate, and more likely what people, such as yourself in laboratories and manufacturing and the rest, can produce and distribute? To what extent is this, quote/unquote—I hate to use the word “solution”—but to what extent is progress more likely to come from technology than it from diplomacy?

MAJUMDAR: Richard, I’m so glad you brought China into the picture, because if you consider Paris to be a success in 2015, you got to remember that in 2014 President Obama and President Xi got together for an agreement that led to the success in Paris. So I think it’s very important that the U.S. and China, as far as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the G7 and the G20 is critical. I don’t think we should put the burden on climate change on Tanzania, for example, or Mozambique. And so I think it’s very important for the developed world, as Alice pointed out, G7, G20. But on the issue of adaptation of how humans will be affected, this is where I think it’s very important for all the nations to be part of it, because we don’t know where the Russia roulette is going to hit the next time. So that—I just want set the stage, since you brought up China.

I think the issue of technology—there are two kinds. One is the reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We have seen over the last decade or so the cost of solar and wind has come down to the point that it is now one of the cheapest ways to produce electricity. And this is going at scale worldwide. And then you are also seeing the tectonic shift in the auto industry with battery costs coming down. And in the next couple of years, electric vehicles, personal cars are going to be—and scooters, and three-wheelers, et cetera, that you see in other parts of the world—will become cheaper without subsidies, compared to gasoline-based automobiles.

But if you think that we can address climate change with just those solar, wind and batteries, we are grossly mistaken. We are still eighty percent based in fossil. We need technologies for capturing the carbon dioxide from these sources, from power plants, et cetera, to—

HAASS: Could you explain that just for a second? When you talk about capturing carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, just take one minute to explain what you’re talking about.

MAJUMDAR: So when you burn fossil fuel you get CO2, the carbon dioxide, and water, which normally just goes out in the atmosphere. And we cannot let that happen. That’s part of the reducing carbon emissions. So we have to separate out the CO2 from a mixture of gases, which requires some energy to do that, take the CO2, and sequester it. And in this transition process from a fossil-based economy to a—in a clean economy, we are still going to be dealing with fossil energy for some time at least. And so being able to capture that CO2, the carbon dioxide, is very important.

Now, IPCC, the International Panel, as well as our national academies have shown that if you want to maintain the temperature—global average temperature rise below 2 degrees, it is very important that we have—we have to suck out CO2 from the atmosphere. Right now, it’s at 400-plus parts per million. We got to reduce that because the lifetime of the CO2 molecules in the atmosphere is several hundred years. And so the molecules that were produced by James Watt’s steam engine are still there in circulation. We got to be able to remove that, because we still continue to put our CO2 out in the atmosphere. So that’s a technology absolutely critical. It’s in the early days of developing.

And one final thing I would add. We’re talking about pledges. And it’s very important to be able to measure and validate those to make sure that China, the United States, and Europe, and others are meeting those pledges. I wrote an op-ed—co-authored an op-ed with some people in NASA on the satellite system to measure CO2. In the United Sates, we have two satellites only that measures 1 percent of the Earth’s surface per month. And we need a global partnership in creating a constellation of satellites to be able to measure the CO2 and methane emissions and nitrous oxide emissions—which are all greenhouse gases—to be able to validate what’s going on. And, by the way, with those two satellites, what we are finding out, that the Amazon forest as well as the African—sub-Saharan African forest, which we thought to be the sinks of CO2, are now slowly becoming sources of CO2. And so we may be at a tipping point.

HAASS: I want to—I want to get back to that, because I know you and others put a lot of emphasis on the responsibility of the quote/unquote “developed” world. But when I look at the behavior of a country like Brazil, which is, if you will, the world’s custodian of the Amazon rainforest, I don’t see a lot of responsible behavior going there. I don’t see also a lot of evidence that that’s going to be effectively addressed in Glasgow or anywhere else. But I just—I’ll park that for a moment.

Arun, would you just discuss one other gas for a second? Which in the short run is far worse, in the long run maybe not as bad, which is methane. Besides CO2, just give us a one-minute—give us methane 101 on climate change.

MAJUMDAR: So methane is a large chunk of our natural gas system. And it’s also produced by cattle in burping. And it’s produced from rice fields, et cetera. And methane is a potent greenhouse gas. It starts off with a global warming potential about sixty to eighty times worse than carbon dioxide. And over time it sort of goes down to about twenty or so. And we have—right now we have about two parts per billion of methane in the atmosphere. And it is increasing. And if you do nothing, you know, the carbon dioxide combined could be a deadly combination.

And so I think in addition to the carbon dioxide we absolutely have to pay attention to methane and reduce the methane emissions. And where methane comes from, as I said, in our natural gas pipelines, in the distribution network, we have natural gas boilers in our—in our buildings. And they are leaky. The distribution network in cities like Boston are very leaky. And so that’s a source from our infrastructure that we have to reduce. And as I said, from agriculture, et cetera, there is a fair bit of methane coming out.

HAASS: OK. I expect we’ll return to that. We’ve got so much else to cover and not a lot of time, so I’m going to ask you all to be particularly succinct. And I apologize. We’re not going to do justice to everything. But I want to put some things on the table. You just mentioned—Arun just mentioned infrastructure. So, Katharine or Alice, you have before Congress both traditional—one piece of pending legislation on what you might call traditional infrastructure, another piece of legislation, which a much large potential price tag, for quote/unquote “human” or “social” infrastructure. Let’s focus on the former. To what extent is climate shaping the content of the $1.5 trillion bill? And if it’s passed or not passed, how significant is that? How much of a dent might that make in the problem?

MACH: Alice, would you like to start?

HILL: Go ahead, Katharine. I’ll follow up after you.

MACH: Perfect. So infrastructure is central both to our emissions of heat-trapping gases, as Arun was describing, you know, transforming our energy system, our buildings, our transport—absolutely fundamental to grappling with the root cause of the climate challenge. We’re also in a place where, I think all of us are aware, our infrastructure across the nation is in disrepair. And now we’re seeing climate change adding on top of that, whether it’s roadways that are flooding at the high tide, roads that are buckling under unprecedented heat, or the way that, you know, in the American West it’s absolutely wild, where we’re needing to bring down our energy supply systems—bring down the grid—to avoid starting fires. Simultaneously we’ve got heat putting extra threat on the grid, and we have fires burning bigger and more fiercely than we’ve had in decades.

So all of these types of challenges are fundamental. And I think we see a profound opportunity emerging right now to make a meaningful step forward to addressing these challenges. I also think what is quite interesting in terms of federal action on climate change right now is a recognition that who has benefited from our historic investments in infrastructure has had a lot to do with power and influence in society. And, for example, in South Florida, where I live now, figuring out how do we keep everyone in South Florida safe under intensifying flooding and heat. This is a massive question of infrastructure and it’s a massive question of figuring out how we can adapt and adjust continually through time.

HAASS: Let me just slightly—maybe, Alice, answer this: If this legislation is passed, how significant—I mean, how much of this—is the $1.5 trillion bill, which may or may not be linked to the larger social infrastructure bill—to what extent will this make a difference, if it is passed, on climate change? Or is this kind of at the margins?

HILL: I think it will make a significant difference. Of course, it depends on how the money is spent. And it requires that it be spent on projects that will actually be resilient, that is withstand the impacts of future climate change-driven events, like flooding, heat, wildfires. You know, there was a report that just came out from First Street Foundation, which has spent a lot of time looking at the flood risk in the United States. And they’ve identified that 25 percent of our infrastructure is already going to be flooded within the next several decades. Similarly, another nonprofit came out yesterday—or earlier this week—Climate Central, with visualizations of how much infrastructure in iconic places, including by the way the convention center in Glasgow, will be underwater or a lake as a result of climate change. So we have tons of existing infrastructure that is highly vulnerable and will have to be retrofitted.

And then for any new infrastructure, we need to ask the basic question: If this bridge is supposed to last fifty years, or one hundred years, and it’s better if it lasts longer—we have 900 bridges worldwide that the Romans built—it’s better if it lasts longer. Will it be up to the kind of damage that these worsening events bring with more heat? And that’s the critical point of any spending going forward. Our climate has been stable for the last 8,000 years. Climate change, rising temperatures, makes it unstable. And that’s why Americans, as they look out their window, and one-third of Americans had an extreme event in their county this year, they can see that this is new and different, and unfortunate thing is it will get worse. So do we spend that money wisely to build resiliently? That’ll be the key to making sure that that money means what it’s intended to do.

HAASS: OK. But even if it is, it will help with resilience, the ability to live more successfully with actual of coming climate change. It doesn’t help prevent it. So let me make the—a radical argument. Which is, despite the difference in rhetoric between the previous administration, whose concern for climate change was minimal, and the current administration, whose rhetoric evidences a large concern for climate change—in terms of behavior, there’s not much of a difference.

For example, the United States is not using the World Trade Organization to impose taxes on companies or countries that are producing goods with fossil fuels and selling them. Not imposing taxes as they cross borders. The United States has not entered the Trans-Pacific Partnership, now called the CPTPP, again forfeiting the opportunity to use trade agreements to impose taxes or fees on goods made with climate. I see no move to raise the federal highway tax, the gasoline tax, which has basically been stuck for, what, fifty—forty to fifty years.

So the question I have is, yes, there’s a little bit of adaptation money in this infrastructure bill, but isn’t there an enormous gap between the administration’s rhetoric and the administration’s actual policy when it comes to making meaningful changes on climate change?

Katharine, Arun?

MACH: Anyone want to jump in on that? Arun?

MAJUMDAR: Sure. I mean, first of all, let me just say that sitting at Stanford we just lost an international statesman, George Shultz, this year. And he turned one hundred last December, and he passed away in February. And he wrote—his last book was we are the Hinge of History. And what he wrote was about coming out of World War II, when we realized that the United States, it’s a crappy world. And we are part of it, whether we like it or not. And out of that came out some amazing innovation in governance—international governance, whether it’s World Bank, and WHO, and many others. I think we are at a hinge of history right now where, Richard, as you said on the international side, do we have the adequate governance institutions to deal with climate change?

When we have border adjustment tariff issues, whether it’s WTO or others, whether we could have migrations of millions of people moving around, whether some country might say: I’m going to put some particles up in the atmosphere and reflect sunlight, and it may affect someone else, do we have the governance issues for that? And I would say I don’t think we do. And I think it is—it’s incumbent upon the United States to take some leadership and provide the governance, international side is very, very critical.

Coming out of—I mean, talking about adaptation—coming out of Texas, what we saw, and what we saw in British Columbia and Seattle and Oregon of the northwest—I think we are in for some trouble. And I think just following up what Alice said, we have to look at infrastructure that not just—you know, just for today, but anticipating the infrastructure that is resilient to climate change. And again, living in California, you know, we have earthquakes. Katharine knows this. She lived in California. And we have a Richter scale. Like, this building that I’m living in in Stanford campus is—has a Richter—a resilience of about seven-point-five. And another building, the newer buildings may be eight.

We don’t have an equivalent of a Richter scale for climate resilience. And that’s one of the projects actually we’re involved in with Stanford, to figure out not only the threat of climate—and there’s a long tail in the distribution of heating. And the tale of the distribution has a disproportionate effect on human life. But also the vulnerability of communities, the infrastructure in parts of Texas were fine. The infrastructure in many other parts were not fine. How does a community, the vulnerability combined with the threat of climate extreme, what is the risk? And we really don’t know that yet. And I really hope we go in that direction, and policies are created.

I think the two bills that you’re talking about, I believe it’s just the start. It is the biggest threat to our economy and the global economy. We have to do more than this.

HAASS: Well, let me—again, there’s a certain emphasis with dealing with climate change that’s coming. I still want to deal with preventing it, with mitigation. So let me raise two last issues before we go. One is—I alluded to both before. One is Brazil. What more can be done to stop Brazil from destroying a rainforest that’s the world’s greatest natural sponge of carbon dioxide? What more can be done to get China to get on a climate trajectory that’s responsible? China announced the other day it was going to stop funding coal plants abroad. Whatever exactly that will mean in implementation, nobody knows. But there was no commitment to change coal use at home. China’s talking about 2060 not 2050. This is a country of 1.3-1.4 billion people at present. The world’s second-largest economy.

So here we are. We’re having this big meeting in Glasgow in two weeks. Do any of you see anything measurable that is likely to come out of it that would affect either Brazil’s behavior on the rainforest or China’s behavior in terms of its contributions, which are enormous now, to climate change? And if not, what should we be doing? I mean, why all this emphasis on diplomacy that, quite honestly, is going to disappoint? What am I missing here?

HILL: Well, I think we are on a—if we don’t get together and all work on—each, that is every nation, and it’s particularly the top twenty largest economies as well as the G7. Those countries need to step forward and contribute the most. If we don’t, we’re essentially all going off the cliff together. And one of the things we have to remember is that the reports that are produced, as Katharine said, from the International Panel on Climate Change, which has a membership of about 190 nations, the latest report issued this year is the summary for policymakers based on 14,000 peer-reviewed articles.

And it says in its consensus report—so remember, that means every nation had to agree to what was in that consensus report. This is 220 scientists, from sixty-two nations, reviewing 14,000 reports, coming up with a consensus report. And even that consensus report, which I would say probably—just to get to consensus—probably is a lower estimation. It’s an unmanageable world. We can’t adapt out of that world. It will be—some people will adapt, but many won’t. And it will be a world very unfamiliar.

So what can we do? I think this is the most important effort right now. We need to bring nations collectively together to try to say: We’re on a joint suicide pact here together. Let’s undo this and find a different way. And if that fails, then we have to think about how we can be diplomatically maneuvering to isolate the ones that aren’t coming along.

HAASS: I would just simply say that I think the evidence is increasingly robust that we are failing. That Brazil and China are two of the biggest problems, I would say. There’s others. The United States has—you know, we’re not perfect, by any means, to say the least. The EU is up there, and others. But I am struck. You know, I spent my life not focusing on climate change but focusing on global challenges. I am struck by the gap between the scale of the challenge and the scale of the response. And at the moment, that gap ain’t narrowing.

So let me just raise two last questions and then I will stop. One is, we haven’t mentioned nuclear power. And Germany, you know, made the decision several years back that it was going to get out of the nuclear business. The United States has, last I checked, over one hundred nuclear plants operating, many of which are getting towards the end of their service life. Why isn’t nuclear—I mean, I know there’s renewables. There’s solar and wind, and those have been coming onstream at an impressive rate. Shouldn’t nuclear power play a larger piece of the—of this puzzle? And why isn’t it?

MAJUMDAR: Can I take a shot? Yeah, 100 percent agree with you. Nuclear power has to play a role. We have—the largest chunk of our carbon-free electricity today comes from about ninety-five nuclear plants in the United States. And the reconciliation bill—not the infrastructure, but the reconciliation bill has a provision out there to help the nuclear plant stay afloat. Because if you do nothing, because the price of natural gas has come down and renewables—the marginal cost is very low, the nuclear plants will go out of business. And if the current nuclear plants go out of business, there will be no new nuclear.

So it is absolutely critical to make sure that a current nuclear fleet stays afloat from a business point of view, and revisit the business model of nuclear. Today we use it only for electricity. We have to use it for industrial heat, which is one of the most difficult things to reduce the carbon emissions, which is used in cement making, steel making, et cetera. Most of the nuclear plants, by the way, that are being constructed today are in China. So going back to China, China has got the largest fleet of solar, wind and new nuclear plants that are being created. So I think China is trying to do it. They are—obviously, they are still a growing economy. They have to reduce the carbon emissions. Hopefully, they peak before 2030.

But nevertheless, I think nuclear really ought to be in the mix, notwithstanding issues like Fukushima, et cetera. But if you even take the impact of nuclear on sort of human life, it is much less than coal in terms of the damage that it does to human life. So I completely agree with you that it ought to be in the mix.

HAASS: OK, Alice, I’m going to give you and Katharine each a last word. Then I’m going to go to questions.

HILL: I would just add a footnote to this. The world has over 440 nuclear plants. Most of those were constructed in the 1970s-1980s, before anyone was thinking about climate. And those plants are, in some instances and probably in most, not retrofitted for climate change. So we see plants shutting down in Connecticut because the cooling waters adjacent to the plant get too warm. We see wildfires threatening a plant in California. We see a plant almost flooded out in France. Unfortunately, there is no international system governing the extension of licensure for these plants in the face of greater climate impacts. And there’s no worldwide effort to make sure that they can withstand.

So I would say that there’s a caution here. Until we are sure that those plants—which are many of them along coastal regions, some in highly populated areas, in Pakistan, for example—we need to make sure that they are resilient to climate change before we can extend their ability to provide us clean energy going forward.

HAASS: All right. Katharine, I’m going to give you the last word before we open it up for questions.

MACH: OK. For a last word I would go back to a word that Arun used at the start. And that’s “opportunity.” I think it’s really crucial to recognize that when we think about how much ambition can we muster right now, we should be thinking about the young kids, right now, grandkids not yet born. And recognize that renewables are viable now, as Arun was describing. This is a major economic opportunity. And we need to have our best policy wonks and lawyers unleashing the potential of technologies that already exist and businesses that are growing.

Same for electrification of vehicles. We’re going to see more advancements of technologies. But that’s good to go. And same for reducing deforestation. We absolutely know how to do it. It’s a matter of political will, cooperation, same for phasing out coal. So I think there’s a huge reason for optimism. And, I don’t know, I work on a university campus. And there’s nothing that warms my heart more, to see young kids getting really noisy about the importance of taking this seriously now.

HAASS: OK. A glimmer of something more positive. Why don’t we open it up to questions from some of the people in our midst? And we’ll do our best to answer them.

OPERATOR: (Gives queuing instructions.)

Our first question is a written submission from Steven Jones, who asks: I grew up in West Virginia, a major coal producer. Climate change policy is seen as an essential threat to many West Virginians. Dr. Majumdar, how would you convince voters in West Virginia that climate change mitigation policies are an economic opportunity?

HAASS: Great question. Arun.

MUJUMDAR: Good question. I think this is a—this is a fundamental issue with many of not just West Virginia but maybe look at Idaho and many other places where—which are coal country. And I think the reality is that coal is not surviving, you know, not because of climate policies but because of economic issues, because it’s much cheaper to produce electricity from natural gas than from coal. And West Virginia in particular has also a lot of natural gas stock.

So I think this is—it’s like many other moments in history where things are shifting. And I think it’s very important for the local people to actually understand how this is shifting, why it is not viable, and then, you know, work with the people. It’s not that we don’t want to—we want to leave behind coal, but we don’t want to leave behind the people. To transition them. And I was part of the Biden transition team. We worked very closely with the labor unions. And they’re saying, you know, we will, you know, get our people in labor, you know, trained—retrain them to other things.

But you have to create the environment for jobs to be created. And I think this is where the infrastructure and all come in. But if you have the environment for new jobs to be created, new employment to be created, and work with the local communities and the labor unions, then you can turn this population that may be losing out and having social dislocation to actually move to this new direction. So I think that’s the kind of thing that we ought to do. So it’s a very important issue.

HAASS: I agree. It’s not unique to coal. You see it throughout the manufacturing base of this—of this country. And we’ve got to have lifelong education, retraining, economic means for doing that, portable safety net so people can move towards new jobs. We’ve got millions of jobs in this country going unfilled. What we have is, in my cases, a skills gap. And reskilling for this and other purposes has to become a national priority. But that was a really good question. Let’s get another one.

OPERATOR: We will take the next question from Peter Ansour with the University of Rochester.

Q: Hi, everyone. I’m Peter Ansour, University of Rochester. One of the young professionals as well, so thank you.

My question is, so, we tend to focus on carbon when we’re looking at a green world. However, we ignore other pollutants, you know, rare earth metals and their damage on the environment. And so my question really is, in the face of an existential threat like, you know, climate change, carbon, how do take into account these other damages?

HAASS: Who would like to field that? Don’t all speak up at once.

MACH: I’m tempted to say Arun might be out resident expert on this one. I think all of us could riff on it, but Arun is deepest.

MAJUMDAR: So right now, ninety-five percent of rare earth metals, which are critical for, you know, our magnets that go into generators and motors, et cetera, they come from China. And the environmental, I think Peter correctly pointed out, the environmental history of that is pretty abysmal. First of all, there are security issues involved in this new supply chains that are being created—whether it’s the battery supply chain or other created. So one has to look at that from a security point of view. And I think it is very important to have a large chunk of the supply chain in the United States or friendly countries for security reasons. That’s number one.

Number two, if that supply chain is our—is our control, we can invoke some constraints from the environmental point of view to make sure that these supply chains are clean. And what is very important is not just whether we are getting minerals like dysprosium, neodymium, and others, but it’s the lifecycle issues of carbon emission, greenhouse gas emission. And incidentally, there’s a massive industry that is in the early days of being created of recycling. We are in the early days of a circular economy, including battery recycling and many other—plastic recycling, et cetera. So I think that’s very optimistic. And that gives me a lot of hope in this area. But it’s a very important question.

HAASS: I would just sort of say it’s not either/or. I mean, obviously I think what we’ve heard is a pretty powerful case for doing more on climate change. The idea that there might be other challenges related to pollution, environments, and all that. It’s not—these are not mutually exclusive pursuits in any way.

Let’s get another question out here.

OPERATOR: The next question is a written submission from Laura Hoffman, who says: The U.S. military is the world’s largest consumer of petroleum. And a 2017 CO2 emissions study by BP shows that if the U.S. military was a country, it would be the world’s fifty-fifth largest CO2 emitter. What is the Biden administration doing to decrease the military’s impact on our climate?

HAASS: Anybody want to take that?

HILL: Go ahead. Katharine, go ahead.

MACH: I think we both have worked a lot on the climate and security connection, so we both may want to reflect here. I think it is a really crucial point that the military is a big actor in the space of the changing climate. And that is absolutely the case for emissions of heat-trapping gases. It is also the case for innovating greater preparedness, whether it’s emerging threats of the melting Arctic or many bases that are in high hazard coastal areas. So I think this is indeed a huge opportunity. And one thing we have seen coming forward in the Biden administration is a recognition that we need attention to climate across every federal administration and all parts of the armed services. And that is certainly something where federal innovation for the assets that are federally owned can have big ripples in terms of helping create the mechanisms to achieve deployment of clean energy, and also making it seem doable for every single state and every single local government as well.

HAASS: Also, the military has an enormous incentive to save money. So fuel efficient—yeah, you will find a lot of enthusiasts for fuel efficiency in uniform. If that saves dollars, that will be a very popular innovation and there will be no resistance to it. That said, you know, the military also has things to do. And there are certain functions you probably cannot have fuel shifting for. And one has to, again, weigh contributions versus costs. Don’t mean to fight the question, but I think there are multiple considerations there.

Why don’t we get another question?

OPERATOR: We’ll take the next question from Paul Skoczylas with the U.N. World Food Programme.

Q: Hi. Thank you so much for this session.

At World Food Programme, we’re seeing—together with conflict and war, we’re seeing climate change as the key driver of hunger. We came out with a number yesterday that the two percent—I’m sorry—the 2 degrees would mean 189 million more people going into hunger. That’s a major threat for people. For young people, for the next generation, and also just for stability. So my question is, looking at foreign aid—everything from World Bank and IMF to the UN to USAID—can you all recommend changes we should make? We are trying to be much more climate smart. We have lots of examples of that. But looking at the big picture, if we’re working in a developing country, the models—as you said, Arun—are the older models. They’re not the new models. Can we point to examples, or can we do things differently? Are there concrete examples of countries that are doing—that are achieving economic growth, job growth, and doing that in a sustainable climate-smart way? Thank you.

HAASS: Alice, why don’t you kind of address that, on whether in particular there’s a—we need to revamp foreign aid forth is era in the world. And whether issues of adaptation and resilience and helping countries—we want to avoid people becoming refugees or internally displaced, rather than having to care for them. Are there things we might need to think about doing differently here?

HILL: Yes. We need to revamp foreign aid. We need to revamp our approach through the multi—the multilateral development banks to focus on how do we support people thriving at home? We know that when an acute event occurs, like a big storm, people are left homeless. They lose their livelihoods, and they may well be hungry. Similarly, a slow-moving event, like drought, with climate change, or sea level rise, can cause people to suffer and move. That is destabilizing in and of itself, but we need to make sure that our aid is focused on those in staying where they are and keeping them safe.

We haven’t seen that overhaul yet. We’ve seen the ambition to do it. But the World Bank has just recently announced it will up its contributions to adaptation. Historically, our funding has gone in the climate space mostly to mitigation. And we are recognizing now that that will not work for many that are living right at the front lines where their livelihoods are threatened. This is very bad for girls, women. They can suffer acutely from hunger when food runs short. Education for children, stunting of children. So many reasons why we need to increase the assistance overseas. And that, again, will be something that we’ll probably hear in Glasgow, that nations need help to protect their populations, particularly after the pandemic when they’ve had to try to help. And that has left them—governments more impoverished and less able to provide these basic services that are so important for people to be able to continue to live full and healthy lives.

HAASS: Great. Let’s keep getting questions. Keep them coming.

OPERATOR: Our next question is a written submission from Bruce Knotts with the Unitarian Universalist Office at the U.N.

He says: The United States is a deeply divided nation. And while the Democratic Party seems ready to tackle climate change, the Republican Party isn’t. Given our current political system, does the U.S. have any hope of doing what’s necessary to address climate change?

HAASS: Anyone want to take it? Or I could chime in on that one. (Laughs.)

MAJUMDAR: Go ahead.

HAASS: (Laughs.) I’ll stick my neck out. Look, I think it’s an important question, that the Republican Party is—has not gotten behind the science, for the most part, when the Trump administration did not make this a priority, to say the least, just the opposite. So that’s a real issue. And I think parties are ultimately responsive to publics. And I can’t remember who said—I think it was Katharine—that when she goes to campuses, this is a powerful issue. Young people on campuses care passionately—not just young Democrats, young people.

I think increasingly religious leaders understood that God created the heavens and the Earth. We are custodians of God’s creation. We have collective responsibilities. I saw a statistic the other day, correct me if I’m wrong here, that roughly a quarter of Americans—twenty-five percent of Americans, that’s over seventy-five to eighty million Americans—have already had their lives affected by the impact of climate change. So I actually think it’s a question of when not if Republicans, shall we say, move significantly on this issue.

Now, when that happens, like anything else in public policy, I think there’ll be debates. And there’s going to be debates about regulatory policy, the mix of fuels, whether incentives in certain areas ought to be introduced or phased out, the power of international agreements versus domestic sovereign action. This is—this’ll be like, in that sense, consistent with other major public policy issues. But my own view is that the era of Republican either denial or resistance will sooner or later, hopefully sooner rather than later—I think will begin to fade. Because this is—this is one of those issues that I believe doesn’t respect party lines. It doesn’t respect borders, in many ways, and it won’t respect political affiliation. So I really do think it’s a question of when rather than if there’s a movement politically in this country.

I don’t know if any of my—any of the three panelists want to join in, but I would say that.

MAJUMDAR: If I could just add, I think you’re exactly right. I think it’s almost like going backwards in time. It’s like gay marriage, which was a contentious issue a long time ago, but it’s no longer a contentious issue. And I think one of the things that I would really like to see is if you go—if you move with adaptation and resilience of communities, I think that is a nonpartisan issue because no one wants to see our communities affected, whether it’s in a red, or blue, or any other color for that matter. I think the contention comes as to how—what pathway we take to decarbonize. Should we go—should we go all renewables, or should we go all this? I think that’s where the contention really is. And I think that’s a very healthy debate to happen, because we need that debate to make sure that follow the right path that is agreed—

HAASS: What you said before—and I think, Arun, you made a really good point before—is that we are going to have to think about—for those who are going to experience change as a result, whether it’s coal miners or anybody else—there is got to be transitional assistance. We’ve got to think about a safety net—almost a large definition of the word “adaptation”—to make a society more resilient. And that in order to get the political change and the attitudinal change, I think we’re going to have to essentially make it less painful for people to move in this direction. But I really think this is a question of when and not if. And hopefully, again, it will come sooner rather than later, because time is not our friend here. The challenges don’t improve with the passage of time.

Let’s—how are we doing? Talking about time, we probably have time for one or two more questions.

OPERATOR: The next question comes from Kristen Loewrigkeit with Ramapo College. We’re having some difficulty with her line, so we’ll take another written question from Karma Kumlin-Diers, and emergency management coordinator at Ramsey County.

Who asks: How do we ensure that adaptation for the current and short-term impacts of climate change is prioritized alongside prevention of future and long-term impacts?

HAASS: I’d love to hear all of you speak about that, because there’s a certain—we don’t have unlimited resources to devote to this issue. So how do we think about—if you think of different buckets—the mitigation bucket, the adaptation/resilience bucket, Arun you mentioned before even things like geoengineering, reversal buckets. How do we think about what we—the allocation of resources, other than saying: Everything’s important, more for all? How do we prioritize? I’d love to hear—Alice, I’ll let you start, because you are Ms. Resilience.

HILL: Well, I think one way to help us prioritize is to create a national adaptation plan. And that plan would allow us to measure our progress, as well as prioritize. Should we invest in beach re-nourishment, where that’s pouring beach—sand back on beaches when there are high tides? Or do we build a seawall? Or do we help these communities relocate altogether? And without a national adaptation plan, it’s very difficult to do that. What instead we do right now is we wait for the bad thing to happen, the disaster happen, and then we pour massive amounts of money into those communities. But we don’t ensure that every dollar that’s spent should be spent resiliently. And that’s ultimately what a national adaptation plan would help us.

So even as we’re doing a short-term recovery, we’re thinking longer term. If the community has a school that’s wiped out, we’re helping them come up—hopefully, they already have a plan. Maybe that school, if it’s in a flood zone, is relocated or rebuilt differently. But until we start focusing on all of these decisions and making sure that they consider the future risks that will impact whatever decision it is, we are on a course of just repeating history, building back where we are, and having it wiped out again. So we need to engage deeply in planning, and that will help us prioritize our investments.

HAASS: We have time for about thirty seconds each from Katharine and Arun. And I apologize. Katharine, any thought about how to balance priorities and spending here?

MACH: Great. So when it comes to preparing for the impacts that are already occurring, I think the key starting point, building from what Alice described, is that it is more cost effective to be proactive as compared to just waiting for billion dollar disaster after billion dollar disaster to occur. I think whether it’s heat or fire or floods, there are many, many things we know how to do. The real challenge now is making sure that when it’s household preparedness, or early warning systems, or elevation, or improved drainage, also as Alice earlier described, that we’re making sure that it’s good for the long haul and not just the climate that we’ve got right now.

I think in our current moment of emergency management, where a question came from in the first place, there’s this increasing reckoning with the fact that when the disaster occurs some households are much more able to bounce back because they’ve got a big piggybank and can evacuate and then rebuild as needed. And for many communities, by contrast, these disasters are having immense cumulative burdens. And so bringing together those changing risks and this real need for thinking about everyone, I think that’s really the vanguard in the space of increasing preparedness.

HAASS: Arun, last word.

MUJUMDAR: One more statement. Completely agree with what Alice and Katharine said, but I’ll add one more dimension. I think it’s very important—so, thirty-three percent of the Fortune 500 companies, and it’s a growing number now, have made climate commitments. Their global—or, so their annual revenue of those thirty-three percent is $11 trillion, more than half the U.S. GDP. I think it’s very important to create the policies where for every dollar that the taxpayer—the government spends, we get about $4-5 from the private sector, and create this capital pool for this transition. The International Energy Agency has estimated that we need about $4-5 trillion globally per year for this transition. And the United States is about twenty-five percent of that. So that’s about a trillion dollar per year. The taxpayer cannot afford all of that, but the private sector can. So I think it’s a combination of aligning—the policies that align the incentives for the private sector and the taxpayer to create this pool of money.

HAASS: Thank you. OK, Irina, let’s return to our poll. And let’s revisit them and see whether there’s been any revelations here, any trends.

So, remember, the first question, how concerned are you about the current and projected effects of climate change? Very, somewhat, not very, not at all. Please vote.

What do you think about U.S. efforts to combat climate change under the current administration? We’re doing too much, about right, or not enough.

Third, do you have reservations about U.S. efforts to combat climate change? No, I don’t. But if you do have reservations, then options two, three and four: Yes, because you worry about the economic consequences, you don’t think the U.S. is doing enough, or you think—to the contrary—you think U.S. has done enough and others should start doing more.

And finally, the fourth question, how confident are you that international agreements will significantly lower or cap carbon emissions—essentially deal effectively with climate change? Are you very, somewhat, not very, or not at all confident?

And I’m hoping that we get the results soon. Ah! So we’re seeing roughly ninety percent are very concerned. If I remember—that’s about the current and projected effects. I think we’ve alarmed you a little bit. That shows a slight uptick in concern. U.S. efforts, I think you’re more strongly believing the United States is not doing enough. Do you have reservations, reinforcing that, that the U.S. is not doing enough? Three-quarters of you there in question three. And how confident are you that the world will get its act together here? Basically, a quarter of you are somewhat or very confident, and three-quarters of you are not very or not at all confident. So you are concerned about this issue and essentially think neither the United States nor the world is doing enough.

I actually agree with that. I will stick with the wisdom of crowds. You’ve reinforced my faith. I want to thank all of you for joining us here for these seventy-five minutes. And I really want to thank these three individuals—Alice Hill, Katharine Mach, and Arun Majumdar—for guiding us through this set of issues. You did it with great speed, which I want to thank, but you did it in a way that did justice to the complexity and the importance of the issues. And I really want to thank you not just for the last hour and fifteen minutes, but I really also want to thank the three of you for your contributions to public and governmental understanding of this. What is one of the, if not the single most important issue facing us in the course of this century.

Again, this will be posted online at CFR.org. I hope you come to the website frequently to investigate climate and other issues. Same thing when it comes to reading Foreign Affairs. We try to inform the public debate. I also wish everyone to be safe and well as we battle another international challenge, which is a pandemic that had its origins half a world away in China. So again, thank you for joining us. Stay safe. Stay well. And stay involved in this issue and other issues.

(END)

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