June 9, 2022
Special Envoy for Climate, United States of America
Ernesto Torres Cantu
CEO, Citi Latin America
Vice President, World Sustainability, Amazon
Mayor, City of Los Angeles
As global temperatures continue to rise, countries around the world are taking collective action to help accelerate the transition toward renewable energy. Public and private sector leaders from throughout the Western Hemisphere gathered in Los Angeles for the 2022 IV CEO Summit to discuss how international cooperation can play a key role in driving sustainable growth in the Americas.
During Day 2 of the Summit, panelists John Kerry, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate, Kara Hurst, Vice President of Worldwide Sustainability at Amazon, and Ernesto Torres Cantu, CEO of Citi Latin America, discussed the pressing need for climate action in the Americas.
The Transition to Renewable Energy Will Mark a Historic Shift in Science and Technology
When asked about the progress being made in the Americas to produce renewable energy, Kerry emphasized the urgency of taking climate action.
“The problem is that no place in the world right now is moving fast enough,” he said, adding the United States currently needs to “deploy renewables five or six times faster” than the current rate to remain within the 1.5-degree warming threshold established by the Paris Agreement.
Kerry noted that restraints in finance and technology have resulted in the considerable untapped potential for renewable energy.
“It’s not something to fear,” he affirmed. “We have to embrace this transition, which will, in the end … be larger ultimately than the Industrial Revolution was.”
Timely Action on Climate Change Requires International Cooperation From Global Leadership
Kerry stressed that political polarization on the subject of climate change, especially in the United States, has prevented global leadership from taking collective action.
“We can do this,” he said in reference to adopting renewable energy. “We could do [a lot] of it right now, except for our politics.”
Kerry expressed hope that international cooperation between leadership in the Americas would accelerate the progress of climate action.
“I think that we have a huge ability to meld the talent of this hemisphere [and] the demand of this hemisphere,” he said. “Our enemy right now … is the status quo. We’re fighting against people who still want to choose the path of least resistance to this challenge.”
Public and Private Sector Leaders Must Take Collective Action to Combat Climate Change
The panelists noted that effectively combating climate change will require cooperation from leaders in both the private and public sectors.
“No government in the world has enough money to be able to implement this transition,” Kerry said. “It only happens if … the private sector takes a lead in producing the products and the technologies that we need.”
“We need to get started today,” Hurst agreed, noting that Amazon is leveraging its leadership in the private sector to advance cooperative climate action.
“We’re working first and foremost in our own company to decarbonize and then to share what we know,” she continued. “We need this to be precompetitive collaboration. None of us are going to win at this unless the planet wins.”
Investing in Renewable Energy Lends Companies a Competitive Advantage
While the panelists agreed on the environmental urgency of taking climate action, Torres Cantu added that companies also have a business incentive to invest in renewable energy.
“Investing and having clean energy in our countries represents a huge competitive advantage,” he said.
Torres Cantu elaborated on the “business case” for climate action.
“What companies are looking for … is, of course, the quantity, the competitiveness in terms of price,” he said. “But the quality — where it comes from, if it’s clean or not — matters just as much.”
From the Series