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Transcript Secretary Buttigieg Remarks at COP26 International Aviation Climate Coalition

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Gareth Davies, Director General, Aviation, Maritime, and International Security United Kingdom: Thank you, Minister Harrison. I would now like to invite some of the coalition to give their perspective on the challenges and opportunities we face.  Firstly, I'm honored to welcome Pete Buttigieg here. As you all know, Secretary of Transportation from the United States. Pete, what's your perspective from the United States Government? 

Secretary Buttigieg: Well, thank you very much and thanks to the U.K. for hosting us. Let me also note, with this audience, how much pleasure I take in the knowledge that the aircraft that brought me to the U.K. returned back to the States full of international travelers, and we're delighted at that news. 

We're honored to be here with our fellow founding members of the International Aviation Climate Coalition demonstrating that we hear the voices of our citizens, especially our courageous young citizens, who are demanding similar courage on our part, knowing that their lives will be defined by our decisions. And that means not only hearing them but acting, especially on the hard things. And aviation is a sector that is famously considered hard to abate which I think in a less urgent moment, as with maritime, might have meant that it would be on down the list of priorities. But at a moment like this, it also equates to have to abate - and that's what we’re doing. 

Aviation is so central to the fabric of our global economy and our global community. And of course, it’s how so many of us got here this week. And I can tell you as a former mayor of a mid-sized Midwestern city in the U.S., it's not only important for our global metro centers, but for communities in every part of every country. 

And as we know it's a significant contributor to climate change and without dramatic, urgent action, there will be substantial additional growth in emissions over the next 30 years. 

So, it falls to us to find ways to limit those emissions urgently. And the question has become: will we act quickly enough to protect our countries and to seize the economic potential that sustainable aviation represents? 

The reality is that the timelines are not being dictated by conferences or by congresses; they’re being set by the laws of physics. And the other timeline that is so important is the engineering that it takes to design, test, produce, and deploy lower carbon aircraft.

But we can control our response, and with that we can shape our collective future. 

So, in the U.S. we are making up for lost time, accelerating our action and our commitments. And I’m pleased to share that the U.S. just released our Aviation Climate Action Plan. We set a goal of net zero emissions for U.S. aviation by 2050, and laid out a strategy and plans for achieving that target. 

My own department is helping to lead a sustainable Aviation Fuels Grand Challenge, which is a US Government-wide approach to reduce the cost, increase the sustainability, and achieve production of three billion gallons per year in the U.S. - and we aspire to do that by 2030. 

We've also announced an investment of more than $200 million dollars, including matching private funds, to advanced aviation technologies that will reduce fuel use, emissions, and noise. 

Our view is that just like vehicles on the ground, the future of aviation is a sustainable one and we are so eager to capture the economic benefits and the jobs that that innovation will generate for our citizens. But we also welcome global competition because we believe U.S innovators will thrive more under that kind of healthy pressure, and because a race for climate technology means a better chance of reducing emissions before it's too late to prevent the worst outcomes of climate change. 

As you know, the U.S. Congress just passed the President's Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. It is a centerpiece of his agenda and one of the most important piece of climate action we've yet been able to undertake - including supporting electric vehicle chargers, helping to electrify our ports, but also investments to help modernize our aviation sector. 

And we believe that like so many of the challenges we face, our success will depend in sustainable aviation on global coordination. 

We've got a lot of positive momentum through the International Civil Aviation Organization, countries working together to establish clean technology standards and policies, to support the development of SAF, and to agree on a global carbon offsetting measure for aviation, known as CORSIA. 

But clearly the world. There will not be any prizes for second and third place when it comes to the race to beat climate change. 

And so, we are so encouraged by today's announcement, by the signatories that are being added  - to the minute I believe - and know that that will accelerate action and help us to meet this moment. So again, we are pleased to be with our colleagues and counterparts here. And again, thanks to the U.K. for bringing us together.