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Secretary Buttigieg Remarks at White House Climate Leaders Summit

Friday, April 23, 2021

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by 
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg 
White House Climate Leaders Summit 
Washington, D.C. 
April 23, 2021 

 

Thank you President Biden for your leadership on this defining challenge of our time.  

And thank you Ambassador Tai for everything you are doing in the U.S.  and around the world. 

As we have just heard from these distinguished leaders, we are here to chart new paths forward to confront the climate crisis.  Achieving our climate goals will create new jobs and harness the ingenuity of our industries and workers.  

In the U.S., the transportation sector is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases - which means that this sector has the opportunity to be one of the biggest parts of the solution to climate change.  

The race against climate change is not just a question of what will be lost if we fail. It is about what can be gained if we succeed. For nations that transition to a cleaner economy, the result will be jobs and economic growth.   

We are certainly recognizing that potential in the United States. 

President Biden recently introduced the American Jobs Plan. It represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernize our national infrastructure so that our economy – and our climate – can thrive.  

With its investments in electric vehicles, public transit, rail, road redesign for pedestrians, and sustainable, innovative materials, this plan will move us away from our over-reliance on fossil fuels and toward net-zero carbon emissions.  

This plan is fundamentally an investment in our economy and our collective future. It will create millions of good jobs for the workers who will make our roads and bridges more resilient, lay new train lines, expand public transit, install electric vehicle chargers, and manufacture the vehicles that will need those chargers. And the majority of these new jobs will be available to workers without a degree. 

At least 40% of the benefits of the plan’s climate investments will flow to underserved communities, which often bear the burden of transportation pollution and are at high risk of climate disruption.  

If our planetary warming exceeds 1.5 degrees Celsius, the impacts will be catastrophic for all of us. We still have an opportunity to prevent that—if the depth of our commitment meets the urgency of the challenge before us. And that’s why this gathering is so important.  

We are all in this together. Pursuing a net-zero goal is not a zero-sum game. We all benefit if we succeed.  

If this pandemic taught us anything, it’s how interconnected we are, and how capable we are of change.  

Successfully combatting climate change and reaping the full economic benefits will depend not only on transportation but on all sectors, not only on creative ideas but on workers literally building the future, not only on the choices of any one nation but on the contributions of countries all over the world.   

I thank President Biden and the leaders here today for meeting this moment with the urgency and courage required. Let us continue to chart this new path together, to the benefit of the many peoples we serve and the one climate we share.