tv EPA Administrator Gina Mc Carthy on the Paris Climate Agreement CSPAN January 11, 2016 9:25am-10:28am EST
hear ben carson. also, illinois representative john shimkus tweeted, i was interviewed by students for their c-span project. $100,000 in prizes with a grand prize of $5,000. the deadline is january 20th, 2016, and the winners will be announced on march 9th. visit our website student cam.org. now, gina mccarthy talks about the paris climate agreement while stressing the need for climate change adaption and environmental technology. this runs about an hour. welcome, everybody. thanks for coming out. i am delighted -- my name is john bussey.
i'm delighted to be here for the "wall street journal." i'll be talking with gina mccarthy, the administrator of the epa today. we'll hear a few words from the administrator to begin with. then we're going to talk for ten or 15 minutes. then i would like to turn it over to questions and answers from you. that's always the most interesting part, i think, for any of these gatherings at the council. we have a few members of the press in the back. i will be diligent in getting to you as well. don't be offended at all if i lean a little bit more toward the members in picking them first to ask their questions, but we'll try to get everybody's questions answered. i think we're just at a fascinating moment in the environmental discussion and debate. the paris conference was at a minimum quite notable. many say historic. some say a little bit more controversial in issues of implementation that still need
to be resolved. but fascinating no matter how you look at it. gina mccarthy will be here to explain to us what exactly happened and what needs to happen now. this will be on the record, so if you just kind of keep that in mind when you're asking your questions, and if you could mute your cellphones from the outset, that would be helpful. now i'd like to turn this over to gina mccarthy. please join me in welcoming her. [ applause ] >> hello, everyone. happy new year. it's great to be back again. john, thank you for the introduction. i expect we're going to have a great conversation, and i want to thank the council on foreign relations for inviting me here and for hosting the event. i know that 25 at least in many people's views, including my own, will go down in history as quite a year. it was a year where we began significantly to turn the tide
on climate change. there is no doubt, i think in my mind and in many others' that that's the case. i am also convinced that 2016 will not be a year where we're going to slow down. it is a year where we're going to keep building the momentum on the basis of the historic year that's gone past. so last august the president announced our clean power plan at epa. it's a historic rule to cut domestic carbon pollution from our power plants. the reason why i am mentioning this in an international discussion is because last month in paris when nearly 200 countries came together to announce a universal agreement on climate that i think is ground-breaking, the clean power plan was one of the foundational issues that was brought up that allowed that success to happen. now, i am not saying that just because i want to give kudos to epa, although we did a great
job. it was certainly a concerted effort. but it was also a concerted effort to take a look at where the energy world in this country is heading. and to work with those in the energy world that are both producing the energy that are using the energy and those that are regulating it. and it was an opportunity for us to show domestic leadership. and so the task really, as to why it was successful as opposed to eluding us like it has for the past years, was really a result of three things. and we can get into these in much more detail when we talk, but i would like to hit them a little bit. first of all, i think it was an -- the inevitability of taking climate action was quite clear. we did not hear from climate deniers at this meeting. we did not hear any countries saying that action shouldn't move forward. there was a certainty of needing
to act on climate and the immediacy of the need that was palpable and different. secondly it was about u.s. leadership. i can get into this a little bit more, but it was both the president's leadership, not just in setting an aggressive domestic environmental agenda but in his constant nurturing of this issue over the past few years, so we went into paris fully prepared for a deal. and his work while we were in paris. and it's also the work across the administration. it put u.s. back in a leadership position in a way that we have not been for quite some time. and it allowed us to speak with a credibility and an energy that we hadn't seen before. so, if you look at these issues, why do i know that there was certainty of action? when i went to paris, it was markedly different from any cop that i've ever been to.
i have been to many, many of which i would have rather been home doing christmas present shopping than being there. it was a positive level of energy that i don't think any of us had felt before. there was a collective motivation to come to a decision point here that would really finally address an international effort that was commensurate with the challenge that we were facing. now, i spent a full week in paris, many thought i shouldn't or that was a long time. it proved to be a valuable opportunity for me because i got to listen to that energy level. i got to talk to many countries. i got to talk about in detail some of the issues relative to how you do a transparent system, how has epa done this similarly before with countries and helped with that capacity-building exercise. i also saw that there was a big
difference in the way this meeting was handled. first of all, we went into there with already 180 countries pledging commitments. that has not happened before. and so, when we stepped off the plane, it was different. we had, in prior years, had the world leaders come at the end of the meeting instead of the beginning. this time it was the beginning. what that did was two things. one is it allowed us to recognize the work that had already been done in the past year by this president and others to get the largest world leaders and world economies to the table in a serious way. but it also charted the course that the rest of us needed to follow. that meant that every day after that was substantive instead of a preliminary discussion prior to the world leaders speaking. it was a vastly different way of
structuring this meeting, and it resulted in vastly more substantive discussion, which shows, in the language of the agreement. now, the other thing that became very clear, as i have said before, was the leadership of the united states and the fact that we were not just at the table but we were managing many of those discussions and putting them forward. we know that president obama made a big difference when he reached agreement with countries like china and with brazil and when he had such rigorous conversations with india. i know in talking to all of those folks at the table that their job was to get an agreement. their job was to make good on those discussions. and it showed. i also know that one of the challenges i had going in there was to make sure that i could articulate the domestic agenda effectively. well, one of the things i wanted
to make sure that i talked about was our clean power plan. well, it turned out that i needed to do a lot less talking than i thought because i had the utilities there doing that talking. that is quite a change. they were the ones talking about their ability to meet this. it's consistency with the way in which investment is happening in the u.s. and how this is the direction that we need to take in order to get investment once again in our energy infrastructure so that we could meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. there was private sectors beyond the utilities that were already on board and making pronouncements, including investments communities. this was an opportunity for us to double the research capacity funding that we would make available from governments but also to have the private sector stand up and announce opportunities for investments in new technology. because, while this is a great
agreement that we fully expect to produce terrific results, we know that a lot more needs to be done. we know more solutions need to be driven to the table. and the right people are around the table saying the only way we're going to get those investments is to get an agreement, is to keep moving forward, is to find a -- an interagency, international way in which we could work together to identify those new technologies, to align those research efforts and to figure out how developed and developing countries could take advantage of that, not just to address climate but to address the multitude of environmental and economic challenges that face them and integrate climate into those efforts moving forward. so it was a wonderful meeting. i think i should stop there since i am at my time limit. i think we should just take some
questions, but i am happy to talk in detail about this. but 2016 will really be for epa a tremendous opportunity to move forward to continue with our commitments under the president's climate action plan to implement the clean power plan which we can talk about. but we are also going to have a heavy role supporting state in working on issues to bring this -- the kind of detail that you're suggesting to the table to make sure that this agreement is cast in stone to the extent that we can and provides that positive momentum moving forward. we are quite sure that we will meet the president's commitment domestically to move forward on issues like our heavy-duty vehicle rule, hfcs, methane rules. we have a series of work that's going to continue, but we are not going to take the ball -- our eyes off the ball of sharing our expertise in supporting this
international effort, which for the first time has a framing that could make it very successful, and we intend to get it there. so thanks very much, everybody. [ applause ] >> should i wear this on my head? >> well, thank you. so i think there's been universal acclaim for this many countries agreeing on anything, and that the headline numbers have been pretty positive. but the criticism has been that the details are yet to be hammered out, enforcement. how do you get there? how do you get to the goal of limiting temperature change to 2 degrees celsius or less? you were certainly part of discussions that got into those details. walk us through step by step how does this now happen. >> well, for those of the -- for
those folks that may have these concerns, i don't know whether i would call them criticisms. there are limitations of what you can get done in an international agreement. but this agreement is much more specific in terms of how it must be carried out. it talks about coming back every five years to take a look at goals and that every goal needs to be more aggressive than the one before. it outlines a new capacity building effort that i am really engaged and interested in, which is to make sure that developing countries can do the kind of work that provides that accountability and transparency and will provide opportunities for them. >> not just energy capacity but the intellectual capacity. >> that's exactly right. and the technical capacity. >> right. >> and so, what this actually does is it basically says that every country is going to have to meet standards that look at providing a transparent accountability system. now, anyone who has done international work knows that accountability is a big thing.
transparency is a big thing because it's often the key driver to getting countries to do what they're supposed to do. most countries hate to be the one that didn't meet the goals that they articulated. and that is a huge driver when you get into the international world. so what epa does is -- and what we're doing at the conference and the convention is to basically outline what those steps might look like and why they're not just a measure of accountability but why it's smart for developed and developing countries to do that. and it's exactly the same process that epa has gone through with states in implementing our national ambient air quality standards. it's the same thing that we've been working on with china on how you begin to address their air quality challenges. it's -- it's not complicated. basically it takes technical capacity, but the first thing you do is you do an inventory of where your greenhouse gases are
coming from. it's amazing how bad we are at estimating that before we look at it. and every country is the same. we've done this with china. we've taught them how to do visitors. inventories. it never matches up where they think it's coming from. we have to keep telling people cars matter, not just utilities. people just think things. so you do an inventory, you look at the actions you take. this is what every state does when they're implementing a national ambient air quality standard. measure what they might have as an impact and chart your path forward. then, every year you look at reconciling that, or every two years. that's exactly what this is all about. >> was that process reflected in the background documentation of the agreement? >> it's in the agreement itself and in the background.
in the agreement itself it says that every two years every country is going to do a report that monitors their success. and to do that report you have to -- you have to follow guidelines that the ipcc has developed. those guidelines say what's a good inventory, how do you do this. t the challenge for epa will be continuing to work with other countries to expand the capacity of developing countries to be able to do this well. we have actually spent a great deal of time in china doing this. we've detailed folks working with state to different countries to actually embed people there who can teach this, to get professional expertise there. my job was to explain when i was there at least the job i took on, was to explain to countries that this isn't punishment. this is opportunities here. because if you can't say where your greenhouse gases are coming from, you are not going to be a market for technologies that can address them. you are not going to be able to
articulate where your research needs are for all of the research dollars that have just been committed. it's a foundation for them to be able to put their hand up and get the assistance they need as well as develop a plan that just might be consistent with where their economy needs to head. which is -- which is, i think, essential. and for countries like china and india and others where we now have monitors that look at air quality and recognize the problems they face, for them, this is their opportunity to look at not just greenhouse gas reductions but efforts to reduce those that can also have co-benefits, that have direct public health benefits. >> a growth benefits. >> that's exactly right. >> this is the argument you were making, right, business is leaving beijing because you can't breathe the air, which is not good for business and growth in china. at the end of the day, is it naming and shaming? this is, after all, a lot of countries with very disparate
objectives, personal objectives, and it's hard to get agreement in even a smaller group. at the end of the day is the naming and shaming process that's going to happen every two, five years in those meetings that happen -- is that the stick that the agreement has? >> no. the agreement isn't enforceable. the goals themselves are flexible. all of these transparency in reporting mechanisms are agreed to. so those will move forward. i don't think it's just a naming and shaming. i think, as you build capacity in countries to look at this, they'll see the opportunities that the u.s. is beginning to see in terms of what are the solutions out there that cannot just address climate but build jobs moving forward. this is all about shifting to a clean economy. that is not punishment. that's simply being smart about the future and where you can head. >> so the economy was already
slowing, global economy was slowing for the last couple of years. that must have factored into some of the discussions. how does that factor into the discussion, if the indian economy drifts lower, china -- it's already happening in china, isn't the temptation to fire up the coal plant, get the factories humming, have jobs so that it's not torches and pitchforks in the streets? >> i would suggest that seems to be the natural instinct everywhere, until you figure out whether or not that's where you want your economy to head. and having those discussions is where we are right now. i mean, we are certainly going to look at how we expend money that we dedicate to this effort internationally and try to make sure that the gut instinct to do that isn't all you look at. there are countries that are clearly trying to move themselves out of poverty. you would expect them to take every opportunity available to them. the challenge for us is to make
other opportunities available to them, is to really bring opportunities and options to them that allow them to choose something that's more sustainable and hopefully leapfrog over some of the issues that we're dealing with now. >> when you sat across the table from india, how did you answer that question? 1.1 billion people poverty. china still half the population still rural. only half is as urbanized. they have a long way to go. how did you answer that question when they said, look, at a certain point we have to face facts and we have to keep people employed. >> the way to think about this, john, is at this meeting, the one other thing that was very different and that i think led to the lack of naysayers in terms of climate change action was the fact that india recognizes that it's on the front line of disasters and that it is going to be significantly hard hit in a changing climate. so it's not all as cut and dried as do we want jobs or don't we want jobs. it's about what do you do to protect your population at the
same time. and so the clarity around climate and climate adaptation was really high. there was a lot of discussion of how do we support climate adaptation, given the change that's already happening. and so it really isn't as easy for those countries to choose to continue to put limited resources into things that are going to contribute to the future disasters. it's not that simple anymore. and so they are recognizing that they have to put people to work, but they're also recognizing now that there are opportunities for that that don't rely on the same old technologies. >> so the agreement talked about a big investment in the technical capability as well as other type of investment. and yet there has been previous promises of investment by the developed countries to help the developing countries along. that has never really
materialized. he w why would it materialize now but previously it did not? >> we've already made some additional commitments. i mean, i know that president kerry came in and announced that we were doubling our adaptation funds. we also had a number of countries that have gotten together to invest in a new program that's doubling everybody's research dollars. so government is stepping up. what's very different now is the private sector stepping up. there was a clear understanding that this isn't just government's challenge, this is an impact on business that's already being felt. and international businesses were there in force. i met with the ceos of many of those. they are meeting with other countries and talking about this challenge. >> what were they discussing? opportunities for them to build out wind farms or -- >> opportunities to not make it worse by looking at mitigation
strategies like that but also talking about adaptation strategies, because water is becoming a problem everywhere. not just water quality but quantity. flooding is becoming difficult. impact on agriculture is becoming something that's much, much better recognized and is beginning to filter its way into business decisions and impacts. so it really isn't -- it is -- it was great to see that the understanding of climate wasn't just about how do we reduce greenhouse gases in a vacuum, just because the future demands it as opposed to looking at this as a concerted economic strategy, recognizing that you are going to live in a carbon-constrained world. it was a different conversation entirely. and that's because it wasn't all government led. >> i want to get to the clean power plan in a moment. but on the topic of the u.s. being in a leadership position
at this event in part because of agreements previously reached, the tail-wind that you had going in, the agreement with china, for example, what else now does the u.s. need to do to maintain that leadership role and to expand its own objectives? the president has talked about cutting carbon by 26%, 28% by 2025 compared to 2005. what else is politically -- what else should the u.s. be committing itself to and that is politically possible in this country? >> well, as you may know, epa does our greenhouse gas inventory and does our reporting on how well we have done, and so we're going to keep looking at bringing more expertise to that. john, there is uncertainty arnold a arnold all of this. we have to keep looking at how we get the numbers right for ourselves and other countries. we'll keep looking at the science and the analytics.
we'll also be implementing many of the initiatives that the president identified, those that the u.s. has put in as the basis for our goal-setting exercise. we're going to make sure those move forward, and we're to keep, over the next year, looking at other opportunities. it's very clear that we're not going to get everywhere we nee to go. no country has put a plan that's going to get them there. so we have to keep looking. for epa, it's looking at how we push the envelope on heavy-duty vehicles. it's getting a montreal protocol amendments and doing continued work on looking at hydro fluorocarbons and moving them out of the system, reducing those so that the impact is not as large as it has been. we're going to keep looking at methane. oil and gas and looking at what other opportunities in that sector are available to us to begin to explore this year. so we're going to look for opportunities that are available and keep talking about this and
getting everybody's interest and keep working with the private sector and with colleges and universities to get the science continuing and also to get the investments we need. >> the role that the epa had this go around was quite an international one. you know, that seems to be -- that seems to be kind of a new role for the administrator. is that likely to continue, and from the standpoint of the epa, is that likely to be now part of the brief for you and for future administrators, and also, what did you find to be the case at this conference, the opportunity for u.s. business internationally, talking with those same individuals you were talking with about helping them with mitigation, with adaptation compared to, say, a competitor like the chinese who are investing hundreds of billions of dollars of state-subsidized money into these zones? >> yeah. well, let me sort of hit your first issue.
i think epa's done a lot of international work for a long time because epa is more sophisticated than most other environmental agencies than any other country. so i think -- i just have to admit it, we've always done this level of international discussion. it's just people are noticing, and there's been more visibility. but we have provided international leadership for a long time. everybody has limitations. and one of the great things about the work that's on climate adaptation that's just beginning with this new agreement is that it will bring resources to the table to expand this considerably, not just by epa, but by other countries that have similar expertise. but we've been doing this for a long time, john. there's nothing new there, and we're going to continue with it
because it's an opportunity for us to recognize that environmental issues don't actually respect boundaries. including international ones. so we've been working in international forums for a long time. one of the good things about it, though, is we're integrating some of our environmental goals into discussions at g-20 and g-7. so we're beginning to not segregate discussionsn the economy from our other more segregated environmental ones because they're overlapping. we now just don't have millennium development goals, we have sustainable development goals. so you're able to sort of frame your larger investments in a way that will really produce the kind of healthy sort of investment. and i mean that in my terms, public healthy in a way that's really going to make the most sense. now, the second half of your question was what? >> about u.s. business opportunities for them. >> oh, yeah. >> you said they were circling around. i can imagine, they were
circling around this conference looking for that business. but, you know, how does that stack up against a china that's also getting into this, and we saw with solar panels, simply wipe out american business. >> i think the u.s. is trying to once again provide leadership on environmental technology and on renewables. and i think we can do that. that's been one of the goals of the president in moving forward with this climate action plan is to show that we're going to not just provide international leadership to come to an agreement, but we want the benefits, the economic benefits associated with that. and our investment community is responding to that call. and i think also part of the discussion we had at the meeting was not just about investment but about protecting investment. that's where the climate adaptation work came in, and that's where a lot of the ceos of international companies were there pushing for an international agreement on this, recognizing that without that,
it doesn't really matter how well any one country does. so it was going on -- you know, these discussions were happening not in a vacuum but in a very integrated way. and i've never seen businesses come together so much over -- certainly over an issue that has mistakenly been seen as an environmental issue for a long time. >> so the clean power plan, we're waiting for a federal decision on whether or not to block it until the states have an opportunity to muster their complaints against it. you've been very confident that this is going to go through. but what if it doesn't? what's plan "b"? >> well, first of all, plan "a" is a good one, and i don't want anyone to think it isn't. i think we'll get through the stay soon. we'll be getting a decision, maybe the next couple of weeks or so. and i think that the work we did on this, and if you look at it,
there's support from many of the utilities, certainly the lack of challenge speaks volumes to whether or not we did this right. so there's no reason -- there's no damage that would warrant a stay that any of us can identify. so we're really hopeful on it. and john, i think that the biggest thing that we're looking at is to just make sure we continue the conversation with states. i mean, there's two key points here. the stay is immediate. you know, you look at that. but that's always, you know, the rush to judgment here. but i think we all are confident that we meet the legal test there. but then the second question is how do we work with states to get those plans in in september? and i think that's where i've been focusing and certainly janet mccabe and joe goffman who are my dynamic duo on this are out there working this issue very hard. but i've been to many meetings, and i am seeing nothing but really actually very positive energy around this.
the states are beginning to work together, not just individually, but together, beginning to start making choices about where they think they want to head. i'm pretty confident we're going to have the plans in. >> mm-hmm. but, if it doesn't happen, plan "b"? >> well, this is our shot at looking at this under the clean air act. we'd have to, again, and would always welcome congress taking action. we don't see that coming up, so we'll look at other opportunities. >> yeah. i was going to say, the politics of this could get sticky. i've got a lot more, but let's get to you. yes, please, right here in the front. if you could identify who you are, tell us your name. who you're with. >> i'm mitsy worth with the naval post-graduate school. thank you for coming and expanding this story. my real question is for you, john, which is how you tell the story, this holistic interdependent story to the general uneducated public so
they recognize the time pressure and the importance. and i would suggest also it's incredibly important to do it visually because there's so many piece parts to this complex story. i was stunned, for example, the story -- i guess it was yesterday -- about all the pollution going into rio and their concerns about what that's going to do for the summer olympics. these are great -- pictures tell -- you know, are more than a thousand words, and i would suggest both of you start telling your story in that fashion. >> good. we'll keep that in mind. and i'm delighted to say that about five years ago "the wall street journal" did finally begin to publish pictures. so we're almost -- we're almost up there, able to answer your good call. >> in the faces of the journalists. >> yes, right back there. next table. yes, please. >> michael gillette, world bank, retired. we spent an awful lot of time in
that place to justify investment, capturing the real price of factors, including externalities such as future costs. i was disappointed with the c.o.p.-21 agreement, that it seems the meeting ducked the issue of getting the cost of carbon correct and failed to identify modalities to get there like cap and trade or carbon tax. would you please enlighten us about this discussion that took place there. thank you. >> you know, i wasn't involved in all of the discussion, so let me say that. i mean, this agreement doesn't address everything. no one ever claimed that it would. but there clearly is an openness, and there are many countries that are looking at whether or not they're going to look at a cap and trade or a carbon tax. it doesn't preclude that from happening. i mean, they're the ones that are going to have to make those decisions. and i think it's wise to let
every country get their own path forward. but clearly, there will they'd to be support for that and some consistency on how one would look at that and calculate its success. and those are things that we will be able to look at because part of this agreement is making it clear that you set your goals. you look at how you're going to get there. you articulate your mitigation strategies. you come back every two years to look at whether you're achieving those. you go to workshops, conferences where we share information where we expand everybody's capacity to do that and where you have an opportunity to challenge whether one another is actually going to achieve or has achieved. so we are going to have a transparent system that will hopefully allow folks to see what countries are doing, be able to share those lessons learned and really articulate a strategy to see whether or not things are being done correctly. so it should, if all goes well, allow the flexibility to choose different paths forward, but allow us to learn from one
another about those paths forward. >> yes, please, right over here. >> hi, my name is michael hamburger, i'm with the state department's office of religion and global affairs. and for the past year or so, we've been involved in engaging with faith communities, domestically and internationally, on advocate related to climate issues. and i wanted to get your impressions of the role of faith leaders and faith communities in the lead-up to paris c.o.p.-21 and what their role might be in the aftermath. >> the pope gave it a big tailwind, didn't it? >> it did. and that fiat was the cutest thing, seeing it roll into the back of the white house. i think the role is pretty enormous. i think maybe folks in the u.s. underestimate that. we have been working at epa at building bridges with the faith community for a few years now, particularly on climate issues,
but not just exclusively because, obviously, many in the faith community see this as an opportunity for us to make sure that human beings are protecting the resources that god gave us. i mean, and they see that as a moral obligation. and i think the president has stood up and characterized it like that. and i think the pope has clearly been a large voice on this issue, but not exclusively. people of all faiths are coming together on this issue. and in two different ways. not just the fact that we have a stewardship responsibility, but they're also recognizing really the biggest vulnerabilities are for low-income and minority communities in the u.s. and low-income areas internationally. they are simply not prepared to take on the challenge of a changing climate, and they are generally not the ones at the table designing the strategies
towards that, towards addressing it. and so it is being seen much more as a large moral obligation to address this. and their voice is going to be extraordinarily helpful. one of the things that i've realized in working on climate issues for so long is how people -- the minute they hear climate, they pigeonhole it into some kind of a tree-hugger issue or a polar bear issue. you know, and we've had to make -- and i think this goes to mit mitsy's point, we've had make this a much more personal issue. the faith community helps us do that by putting faces on it, by reminding us that we have an obligation to protect people who cannot protect themselves. they are the ones most at risk here. but the other issue is they help us to design strategies that engage people. there are things that epa is doing now to engage the faith community. and things like our food
recovery challenge, looking at food waste, and how that reduces methane, but also allows you to organize things so that people who need food get it, and people stop wasting food. so there are wonderful ways in which you can build this into the very things that faith communities have focused on. water is a clear example. it is a large symbol in faith communities. and we can start engaging people. we're listening to the people that they most listen to and get the activities going so that this doesn't become just waiting for, you know, international solutions, but bringing different ways in which individuals can participate. >> yes, please. >> thank you. thank you. i'm paula stern. i guess i'm a member of the renewable energy advisory committee over at the commerce department. and the mother of a documentary filmmaker who focuses on climate change and putting the face on
what you have been so articulate about today, as has the obama administration, so thank you. my question goes back to something that i think you raised with particular regard bilateral relationships and discussions between u.s. and china. and i am particularly concerned every time i open my google alert and see yet again another thing on renewable energy and climate change stuff in china, and they're building more incinerating plants, incineration plants. knowing that based on my own experience here, there are entrepreneurs. i've worked with ones here at energy that has a gasification technology which eliminates these kinds of pollutants that come into the atmosphere because of incineration. and you mentioned methane. i think about the dumps and what
is being produced out of there. so i would love it if you would address how as a nation, the united states, takes those small -- those entrepreneurs who have patents and technology and get them developed into investments, investigate-worthy activities, particularly in china because i know i worked on this for several years for sierra energy. it was extremely, extremely frustrating and difficult, and yet china's making these constant investments in old technology, which is only going to add to the problem. >> so you saw this happening at the conference? this solution? >> you know, this is something that there have been more solutions put on the table. you're not wrong to be frustrated. it takes a long time for these technologies to work their way into a market.
but the one thing that's different now is that they see a market. one of the reasons why this president and why epa went out for as long as we did in our clean power plan was because we needed to send a market signal for three years or five years or seven years. that's the only way that investment is going to have the window that it needs to invest and understand that it's going to have a return on that investment. now, there are two things that happened during the c.o.p. this year. one is was mission innovation, which was secretary muniz's really great initiative to get eight of the larger countries to get together to double their research investment and coordinate on that. that's a big deal. but it also was bill gates and his group whose name as it were, epa, i thought private sector would be better at acronyms. did you all hear the bill gates
initiative? breakthrough energy coalition. thank you. maybe it's a good one, but i can't ever remember it. i mean, basically, this was an effort to bring billions of private sector dollars to the table for the sole purpose of investing in early start-ups. this was the commitment to say we have agreed to take the added risk because the reward -- the need is so great. that we will risk some losers more than we usually would. and i think we need to have that. so there is an acknowledgment that technology is clear. what's frustrated me and climate efforts, i think, for decades is that there has been a sense that if we don't have every technology solution identified to be able to get it to less than two degrees or now less than 1 1/2, then it ain't good enough. well, what's not been good enough is nothing.
so this has really, i think, changed the dynamic in terms of setting a long-term investment. in terms of china, i want to push back a little bit. you are right that they continue investments. their energy, their investments now are shifting rather dramatically in terms of how they're investing. and i can get you some follow-up information on that because i don't have it readily available. but their commitments on how they are going to bring renewables up to a certain level and start reducing their reliance on coal is already showing. they are already changing their investment portfolio dramatically. and some of the additional commitments that they made while in paris are consistent with that. nothing turns on a dime, but nothing turns at all unless you're telling them that there's a direction that the rest of the world is going to head. and that's what we got. >> china even wrote it into their five-year plan, strategic industries, one of them being
renewable pollution-reducing industries, which should be of concern to american companies because that means, again, trillions of dollars of subsidies from the central government. yes, please, right here. >> hi, my name is talia schmidt. i'm a university student at the college of william & mary. and i had two questions for you, if that's okay today. the first question is more about the agency itself. one of the critiques from critics and environmentalists of the epa is that they feel sometimes that there's a revolving door between industry leaders and epa leaders. so i was wondering if you could comment on that and whether you think that's true. and then the second is more just about current events and what's happening in the u.s. right now. we've seen in california, of course, there's the big story on the methane leak. and i'm wondering if you can kind of comment on how you feel that moving forward, the u.s. and the u.s. government can
improve how we are regulating these different plants and different places so that these different industries are keeping their equipment up to date because i know that this was one of the plants where some say that there was a part of the leakage facility that was outdated, and if they had been up to speed with correcting that, then we might have missed some of these problems. >> methane a lot worse than co2. >> yeah, yeah, i know. i know. all-too-painfully know. let me hit the first issue first, obviously, is the revolving door for industry. and i don't want to be flippant in the way i say this, but honestly, i'm opening every door and window of this agency. i think everybody deserves to be able to get in and have their voices heard. and if we can't hear them inside, people are going
outside. i do not see industry as coming in there in a way that is crowding the field or taking away our ability to see what the science or the law actually says. we do what the science and the law says. but what i am looking for industry to do is the same as anybody else. every state, every tribe, every sta stakeholder can come in and tell me, what is the best, most reasonable, sustainable way to achieve what the science tells me i need to do and what the law is demanding. and if they have the best ideas, i am running with their ideas. i might even give them credit for it. and i think in the clean power plant, we did that. you know, it benefited by those discussions. so as much as people might worry, these are not behind closed-door discussions. everybody knows who i am meeting with. and they are not coming in there and thinking they're meeting
with somebody who's going to just take a quick note and go do what they say. they know they're coming in there. they have a substantive discussion about why they're right, and other people are doing the same thing. and i welcome it every time. and i hope the agency continues to have that open-door policy. now, the second thing is on the methane leaks and keeping up with technology, i actually think that's -- that is a really, really good point. i tend to think that we have some outdated regulations. and epa tends to keep up more because our laws require that. but there is a challenge for us to get and look at technologies and making sure that they're being kept up and that our regulations keep up with the different ways in which industry is changing. and the energy world is changing. i think we do the best we can. in the case of porter ranch i
can't speak to it because i'm not privy to the investigation, but there is one that is certainly going on. we have minimal oversight of those types of facilities. in fact, we don't have any. and so we are working with the state on the public health issues around that, making sure that people are being relocated. everybody knows about porter ranch. if you don't, you should read about it. it's a significant methane leak from a well that's used as a storage that's ancillary to a pipeline. and so it's a storage facility, essentially. and it is -- it is leaking significant amounts of methane. and they're trying to figure out how to depressurize it so that they can stop the leak, but it's been going on since october. and it's not a good situation. but you're not wrong to say we need to keep up with it. and we need to make sure that there's compliance with current standards. >> questions from the press way in the back.
anybody? nobody? okay. yes. way in the back there. >> hi. jean shemnick from climate wire. the moment around the president's signing the paris accord, is that going to sort of be the next way for the u.s. to weigh in and show leadership, and is that going to be a big event in new york with that signing? and can you tell me a little bit about the strategy around it, the communications and everything? >> i don't have anything i can share. i've not been engaged in the discussion. sorry. >> right over here. way in the back. >> hi, dave shepherdson with reuters. can you talk about the volkswagen diesel emissions issue. you'll be meeting next week with vw's ceo. are you satisfied with the recall fixes to date? can you give us any sense of when you think vw might be getting to the process of recalling and fixing the
vehicles? >> dave, you probably know we've been having a large amount of technical discussions back and forth with volkswagen. at this point, we haven't identified a satisfactory way forward, but those discussions are going to continue. and we are really anxious to find a way for that company to get into compliance. and we're not there yet. >> council member questions? yes, please, right here. >> thank you, john. and thank you, gina, for coming back here. this, i know, is at least your second time because i had the privilege of moderating your last time here, so i think it's an indication that we've entered a new era of environmental diplomacy that's recognized at places like the council on foreign relations. so my question -- well, thank you, mitsy. sherry goodman. sherry goodman, consortium for
ocean leadership. my question goes to what might characterize this c.o.p.-21 as heralding a new era of investment-powered diplomacy, which seems to me has been building for some time but really has took its full flourish here in paris, not on are we talking about unleashing the power of clean energy and renewables, but also markets for clean air technology, clean water technology, autonomous system tracking of everything from air, land, water, food that we need to do environmental monitoring and provide environmental intelligence in the future. but a range of other new markets that potentially are opening up. and how do you see -- do you see that being a model for future diplomacy, not only climate diplomacy but other as you've talked about international, environmental and not just environmental diplomacy but sort of a new era where you have
business as powerful as governments at the table and sort of pointing the direction? >> well, i've been called probably one of the least diplomatic people in the world. so i don't want to speak like a diplomat. i would be really lousy at it. you know, i can't -- i can't speak to it more broadly, but my sense was it was a powerful way to do business for government and business to work together to figure out how a path forward can be made. and i expect it will have an impact. one of the things i think that for me, i think it expanded our ability to be able to work with business in a productive way. epa has been looking very hard at new technologies, particularly monitoring technologies. because i think from my perspective, the world of environmental protection has been really looked like it's just a government issue in the hands of a few. when i really think it needs to be a shared responsibility much
more broadly. so we have been looking at ways of increasing citizen science, looking at, you know, new technologies and how you reconcile those in our decision-making, and advance those and provide markets for those. because the world's changing. i don't think we can expect to be monitoring everything the way we have done it before. and we need it to be more broadly recognized as something that's of a concern to all of us. and bring everybody together. new technologies are amazing in terms of their ability to take hold and change the way we do business. we just need to integrate those more into our business. >> yes. way back there. is that the person? >> yeah. >> hi, penny starr with cns news. according to the energy information administration, although alternative and renewables are growing slightly, the fossil fuels will still account for 80% of u.s. energy
needs through 2040. and federal data also shows that u.s. carbon emissions are at almost a 20-year low right now. how does that -- those facts fit into the picture that epa is painting of u.s. energy -- the u.s. energy landscape? thank you. >> well, i think that just as climate change is a long-term issue, clearly addressing that is, but i don't think anyone disputes the direction in which the world is heading. how quickly it gets there including in the u.s. is going to be up for debate. what i always have to constantly remind people -- and this is, again, maybe an infatuation with new technology for me -- is that no one could have predicted what the world looked like today 20 years ago. no one. zero. you know, if you told me 30 years ago there wouldn't be -- you know, there wouldn't be a phone in my house sitting on a wall, i would have thought you were nuts, right? and now nobody is investing in
land lines. would you, you know? and so the world changes dramatically. and i think in the energy world, it's not going to be different because people are looking for continued opportunity for investment. and frankly, a lot of the investment that has been made before is so old and has not been invested in, that now there is an opportunity for significant investment. and that is going to be, i think, in a direction in which we are saying the energy world is heading. so i think you're going to see an escalation of that transition moving forward. >> we have time for one more quick question. yes, please, right back here. >> thank you. adam taylor with world bank. thank you for your leadership, leading into paris and beyond. >> thank you. >> we've talked a lot about finding greater efficiencies in renewable energies. but another piece of the technology question which i think the paris agreement kind of relies upon quite a bit is the potential to take carbon out of the atmosphere.
this is a cutting-edge area, contentious in some circles, but i'm kind of curious what you see the prospects are for that. because if you read the paris agreement closely, for countries to ratchet up as quickly as many of us hope, there has to be some progress in that area. but again, you know, it's not really clear where that's going to come from. >> you know, i haven't been directly involved in those discussions, but certainly i'm aware that they're happening. john holder -- and this has been an area where he has spent considerable amount of time -- i can't speak to the discussions that went behind it because i wasn't engaged in it. but when you're dealing with an issue like climate, you're not going to dismiss any avenue to address it. it is a big enough problem that it's got to be addressed, but for me, i'm going with what i have available and with incremental improvements in that, in ways in which we can continue to invest.
and i do think there's going to be large controversy in any of those strategies, but i certainly wouldn't dismiss them until i heard them. that's not where i've been focusing my time. >> well, i think no matter where you might be on the climate change issue, the paris negotiations really did provide an incredible sense of momentum to the discussion overall. so i want to ask you to join me in thanking the council of foreign relations and gina mccarthy for this very interesting discussion. >> thanks, john. appreciate it.
as president obama prepares for his state of the union address on tuesday, he released this video on twitter. >> i'm working on my state of the union address. it's my last one. and as i'm writing, i keep thinking about the road that we've travelled together these past seven years. that's what makes america great. our capacity to change for the better. our ability to come together as one american family and pull ourselves closer to the america we believe in. it's hard to see sometimes in the day-to-day noise of washington.
but it is who we are. and it is what i want to focus on in this state of the union address. >> and c-span's coverage starts at 8:00 p.m. eastern with senate historian betty coed and james arken looking back at the history and tradition of the president's annual message and what to expect in this year's address. and then at 9:00, our live coverage of the president's speech followed by the republican response by south carolina governor nikki haley. plus your reaction by phone, facebook, tweets and e-mail as well as those from members of congress on c-span, c-span radio and cspan.org. and we'll reair our state of the union coverage and the republican response starting at 11:00 p.m. eastern, 8:00 p.m. pacific. also, live on c-span2 after the speech, we'll hear from members of congress in statuary hall with their reaction to the president's address.
zplool >> the wake of donald trump's plan to place a temporary ban on muslims in the u.s., they'll debate a measure a ban donald trump from entering the uk. watch it live monday january 18th on c-span at 11:30 a.m. tonight on "the communicators," john lansing, ceo of the broadcasting board of governors, discusses how u.s. media organizations like voice of america and radio marti are operating in today's media environment and how he'd like these agencies to retool in order to address propaganda by russia, china and the islamic state. mr. lansing is joined by ron nixon, "new york times" washington correspondent. >> the reality is we started 70 years ago as a radio enterprise. we still do some radio. but our ability to shift mobile and social and put more resources behind that is certainly there, and we're really no different than every other media company that you and
i know about that have had to do the same thing. "new york times" just as well and has done a fantastic job. and that's our mission is to shift resources, energy, focus and strategy to be more, as i said earlier, more in the peer-to-peer conversations instead of the one-to-many types of conversations so that we can shift away from the stodgy, old media to new media. >> watch "the communicators" tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. preventing sports injuries for youth is the topic for d.c. officials, doctors and public health advocates. they'll talk about the latest technology and treatment protocols and address whether a federal mandate for these injuries is necessary. >> all set. is it 10:00?