Pelosi Delivers Keynote Address at Opening Ceremonies of the Pre-COP26 Parliamentary Meeting
Rome – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered a keynote address as a guest speaker at the Opening Ceremonies of the Pre-COP26 Parliamentary Meeting hosted in Rome, Italy, emphasizing the U.S. Congress’ commitment to climate action. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Buongiorno. On behalf of the United States Congress, it is my privilege to join parliamentary leaders for this meeting in advance of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. How important is that meeting in Glasgow? How important is this subject? So important that the President of the Italian Republic is with us to listen. Giorgio [Parisi] cautioned us all to listen, as he listened a few days ago in Milan to young people, as he has listened to so many about this important subject. It's an honor to be with you, President Mattarella, always.
And also, gratitude to Speaker Roberto Fico and Senate President Casellati for bringing us together, not only in terms of the logistics of it all, but in the spirit of their presentations, setting forth clear challenges to us all, with great suggestions on how to succeed. President Pacheco, thank you for your leadership of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. And thank you for the invitation to speak as a guest here today, but more importantly, for your ongoing leadership on this very, very important subject. And again, to President Casellati for your words of wisdom that you provided and the guidance that have given to President Pacheco, as he acknowledged earlier. But what a thrill and what a surprise to be here with the Nobel Laureate Giorgio Parisi. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom – true words of wisdom from a scientist. Science, Science, Science – the answer to so many challenges, whether it's climate, COVID, or computing, whatever – the answer to so much. Sometimes in Congress, they say to us, ‘It’s either science or faith.’ No, that's not a choice. Science is an answer to our prayers. And it's an honor to be with you. Congratulations, and thank you for taking the time to share.
Giorgio Parisi, we're in the same room with him. Isn't that exciting?
So, as was indicated by Speaker Fico, we are here to talk about global ambitions to counter climate change. Again, it's an honor – it's really very special to be with so many parliamentary leaders gathered here today to discuss the great challenges of our time and our unified response to them. And we have also emphasized that earlier in the G20 Parliamentary Speakers Meeting: the importance of parliament, the importance of multilateralism and the importance of working together.
Now, let's move on from COP26 – we must discuss what I believe, and I think we all share the belief, to be most urgent challenge of our time: the climate crisis. The climate crisis is an existential threat to our planet. It is a public health priority for clean water, clean air for our children to breathe. It is an economic priority for good-paying, green jobs for now and into the future. It's a national security priority to prevent conflict from migration and from competition for habitat and resources that follows. And it is a moral issue. If you believe, as I, that this is God's creation, this planet – that is that we have a moral responsibility to be good stewards of it. If you don't share that view, I think we all can agree that we have a moral obligation to transfer this planet to future generations in a responsible way. And that is something we must do for our children and our grandchildren. And we must do so with justice.
We must do so with justice for the most vulnerable communities among us, including indigenous communities – thank you, Mr. President, for your mention of that – which have been hit first and the hardest. In order to do this, we must listen, listen, as you said, Giorgio, listen to the children. Listen to the indigenous people. Listen, as President Mattarella has been doing. And it's also the Prime Minister, who was with us yesterday and was with you in Milan, listening to the children.
As His Holiness Pope Francis wrote in Laudato Si’, the climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. He spoke to this priority when he addressed the Joint Session of Congress in September 2015. That was six years ago, a little more than six years ago.
To protect that ‘common good,’ Pope Francis said, ‘We need a conversation that includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.’
December 2019, just before the outbreak of COVID, I had the privilege of bringing a diverse Congressional Delegation to COP25 in Madrid. It was, again, my honor to address the Climate Vulnerable Forum Partners Leaders’ Event on ‘Action for Survival.’ The vulnerable, whether it’s vulnerable nations or vulnerable people. There, we heard from those ‘climate-vulnerable communities,’ as they sounded an alarm that we would hear even louder this year, when the United Nations told the world that we face ‘Code Red for Humanity,’ ‘Code Red for Humanity’ because of the climate crisis.
Again, talking about the indigenous people, years before, I led a Congressional Delegation that traveled to Alaska to view the impacts of the global warming there, including rising and warming seas and the melting of glaciers. The descriptions have been given over and over again about the challenges. We were told by the indigenous people there at that time that decades before, soon that will take us about 50 years back. This was about twelve years ago, so decades before, the indigenous people there were told – they told us that their elders told them that decades before they reported on changes to flora and fauna and habitat. Decades ago, 50 years ago. When they reported this those elders were told that it was anecdotally interesting but not scientifically significant. How about that? So, again, the world should have listened to them, to that urgent call, early warning of indigenous peoples then, and we must listen to them now. We must listen to the indigenous and climate-vulnerable peoples both around the world and in our own nations.
We are at a moment of great responsibility and therefore opportunity when it comes to climate. We are at a moment of responsibility, because the G20 countries, at the meeting before this meeting, are the world’s biggest polluters and contributors to the climate crisis. We are at a moment of responsibility because of that, but we are also at a moment of opportunity because the G20 countries could, if we act boldly and with unity, mitigate the vast majority of climate change, keeping warming to 1.7 degrees Celsius. We must do this working together as parliaments with respect and a plan of action.
So when we meet in Glasgow next month, we must bring our highest ambitions to the table. We must not only meet our Paris goals, we must beat them in order to limit warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius. Again, parliaments working together, executive branches as well with parliaments.
At the same time, here’s what we are doing in Congress. We have Majorities in Congress who are taking action. In our Congress, the House has established the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, launched the most ambitious climate plan in history and passed multiple significant clean energy and conservation bills. Now, we are working to – on the enactment of something President Biden calls Biden Build Back Better. ‘Better’ because it would be irresponsible, in our view, to build the same way we have built before. It would be a dereliction of duty for us not to go into the future in a green way and that responds to the urgency of the climate crisis.
It’s all about the children. It’s all about the future. The planet belongs to them, and they know it. And they are speaking out, and they are acting upon it. And thank you again, Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister and others, for having that early meeting in Milan, for COP26. We will leave them a world where they can be healthy, where they can thrive and reach their fulfillment.
In the White House, we have a President who, when he was in the part of the Congress, brags about the fact that when he was in the Congress, he was first to introduce climate legislation in 1986. Now, before – right here – you know, we have a little competition on who was the earliest in all of that, but President Biden yields great authority on this subject. And that's a big change for us. Let's put it that way.
He said, ‘We stand’ at the UN last month – he said, ‘We stand in my view at an inflection point in history, our security, our prosperity and our very freedoms are interconnected in my view,’ he says, ‘as never before. And so we must work together as never before.’ That's what he said.
And I say here, this is our mission today: as parliamentarians, to work together, as never before, to advance a better future for our children and for all people. And to recognize the role that parliament plays in all of this and the importance of multilateralism to that extent. And so for that reason, I'm so happy to be with you. And I thank all of you for your commitment and your leadership for the planet, For The Children.