James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:44 P.M. EDT
MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. Happy Earth Day, everyone. And joining us in the Briefing Room for the second time — I told you they’d come back and take more questions; I deliver on my promises — is National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.
We’re, of course, very excited to have them here. After their short remarks, they will be able to take just a few questions because they have a busy Climate Summit under way.
With that, I will turn it over to Gina McCarthy.
ADMINISTRATOR MCCARTHY: Thanks, Jen. And thanks, everybody. It’s great to be here. Happy Earth Day.
On day one, President Biden fulfilled his promise to rejoin the Paris Agreement. And as part of reentering the Paris Agreement, the President launched a whole-of-government process that was organized through his Climate Task Force to establish the 2030 emissions target, which is known as the “nationally determined contribution” or “NDC.” And it’s a formal submission to the United Nations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The NDC is a commitment. And it’s — and our NDC basically says that the United States will reduce our net economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
And this target builds on U.S. leadership at all levels of government and programs to-date, and positions American workers and industry to help us tackle the climate crisis.
Today’s announcement is a product of this government-wide assessment on how to make the most of the opportunity of combatting climate change and what it presents for us and our future.
To get here, we went sector by sector — electricity, transportation, building, industry, and lands and oceans — and we looked at the wealth of already-existing, cost-effective clean technologies and products that are ready for deployment; and innovation trends that we see in the marketplace that will allow us to win the clean energy future; and the opportunities we now have to create good-paying union jobs, improve public health, keep our communities safe, and advance environmental justice.
Over the past nearly 100 year of this adminis- — I’m sorry, 100 days — feels like years at times — (laughter) — 100 days of this administration, we met with and listened to cities and states, businesses, workers, scientists, economists, young people, parents — grandparents like me who were around during the first Earth Day and hope to be around for quite a few more.
The output of these — the bottom-up analyses and robust engagement is this: And that is that we see multiple pathways across all sectors, across all policy levers, across federal and state and local actions to grow our economy and reduce our emissions.
Look, President Biden has always believed that tackling the climate crisis presents a valuable economic opportunity. And the fact is: Creating jobs and tackling climate change go hand in hand.
We invest in the competitiveness of our industry and empower U.S. workers to build more resilient and sustainable infrastructure and propel us. That is how we lead and move forward in manufacturing and exports of clean energy technologies.
In some ways, for my team, every day since January 20th has been Earth Day and Jobs Day; every week has been Infrastructure Week and Innovation Week. We have marshalled the whole-of-government, the fantastic Cabinet, and the remarkable team of climate and clean energy experts across the federal government behind this President’s vision not just to develop the target, but to unlock the opportunity that achieving this target represents.
Because when President Biden hears climate, he thinks “jobs.” And it’s no wonder. The work we need to do is — is not just about avoiding an existential threat — which climate change is — it’s about how we create jobs for line workers, building thousands of miles of transmission lines for a clean, modern, resilient grid; workers in energy communities capping abandoned wells and reclaiming mines and stopping methane leaks.
It’s about autoworkers building modern, efficient, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure to support them. You can follow me right after this briefing if you want to go hang out at Union Station; you can get a close look at EV infrastructure in action.
And engineers and construction workers expanding carbon capture and green hydrogen to forge cleaner steel and cement.
It’s about farmers using cutting-edge tools to make American soil the next frontier of carbon innovation.
So, let’s be clear: The American Jobs Plan will help us more fully tap the economic upside here, investing in infrastructure, innovation; in our workers and communities. It’s something we cannot afford to pass on.
Let me close by reiterating what brings me here to work every day, especially at this moment in my career: It’s Joe Biden’s unwavering focus on people, on the air they breathe, and on their health; on the strength of their communities and environmental justice; on the dignity that comes with good work and jobs we can create; on how we keep working together to move beyond a year we all would love to put behind us to one of renewed hope and opportunity. Because after all, this day is all about investing in America and winning the future for our children. That’s why we’re here: Earth Day, Jobs Day — every day.
Thank you. And now let me pass it on to my good friend and fellow Bostonian, Secretary John Kerry.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Gina. Hello. And thank you very much, Gina. I’m really happy to be here and share this day and this subject matter with all of you.
And I want to begin by just sharing with you what a spectacular job Gina and her team have done. You may remember the executive order which said the President will aim to announce the NDC at the summit. The aim was not that he had any question about wanting to do that; the aim was whether or not Gina or anybody could pull together all the parties that had to be part of preparing an NDC — a gigantic, administrative, organizational task, which Gina and her entire team have done really superbly. And I mean that. That’s not a pro forma comment. It is hard to get all of the disparate elements of your government together.
And the President, by issuing his executive order to make this — the climate issue — an all-of-government enterprise and instructing every single Cabinet officer and every single agency officer to comprehensively factor climate consequences into every decision that they were making. And they have done that.
And Gina created this task force. We’ve never had an all-of-government task force on this subject ever before. We had it now because Gina’s creation, and — and it’s worked. And that’s what brought everybody together to get this ambitious but appropriate, achievable goal in place. So I salute her and I thank her for that; it’s a great service.
And everywhere that I went in the world, in the course of the last months, first question out of people’s mouths was, “What’s your NDC going to be? What are you guys going to do? You’ve destroyed your credibility. You’ve left the Paris Agreement. How can we trust you? What’s going to happen in the next four years?” To which there is a very, very powerful answer, which is: No politician, I think, could change what is now happening globally in the marketplace. And that is part of the message of what’s happened here today and in the last few days.
You’ve had — yesterday we announced the Net-Zero Bank Alliance; we announced that the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero; and we have some 43 financial institutions across the world worth some — I forget the exact sum — forty-some trillion dollars or something, in terms of assets managed.
And just yesterday, a number of banks announced — six banks, to be precise — that they are allocating or setting — or making a commitment that they will invest into climate-related efforts, initiatives, investments — $4.16 trillion over the next 10 years. That’s been a really missing element in all of this.
So I’m really happy to be here today for a number of reasons. First of all, just parenthetically, five years ago today, I had my granddaughter on my knee in New York and signed the Paris Agreement. And that was a great moment for everybody in the world when everybody came together in New York excitedly to set out on this venture.
Regrettably — without any facts, without any science, without any rationale that would be considered reasonable — the former President decided to pull out. He was the only President in the entire world — the only Chief of State in the entire world, who, without any scientific evidence, decided to pull out of the Paris Agreement.
So, when President Biden was elected — having made climate one of the most critical issues of his agenda — we had a big step to get up. We had to restore America’s credibility. We had to prove that we were serious. And, I think, today does that in many ways, and not in a chauvinistic — in a way that’s, sort of, inappropriate to our relationship with other countries, but in a way that reinforces the fact that this is multilateral; that we need to bring all the countries of the world to the table; and we all need to raise ambition. That’s the central theme of this meeting today. We must all raise ambition.
And you heard that in, I thought, profoundly, meaningful, moving, understandably frustrated and angry words — tame for anger — words that came from Xiye Bastida. And that’s where a lot of the younger generation is today, appropriately — pretty upset at the adults — the alleged adults who are not getting their act together to make happen what needs to happen. We aren’t there yet either.
But today we built a huge, foundational building block in the effort to get there. So, the importance of today in my judgment is this: The world came together. President Xi, Prime Minister Modi, President Putin, presidents of small countries and big countries, President Macron, the Chancellor of Germany; the EU itself, independently; people in the financial marketplace and others — all of them in agreement that this — this is a crisis. It is the climate crisis, and it’s going to require an enormous lift to get where we need to go.
So, what happened today — just to underscore where we are — on January 19th, we were nowhere; we were in deficit with respect to our efforts. And because of President Biden’s leadership in calling the summit, in putting us on the line to do this, we now have about 55 percent of the global GDP committed to levels of reductions that keep faith with holding the Earth’s temperature at 1.5 degrees.
That is a big chunk of difference. And we’ve done that working with countries — sitting down with them — with Japan; with Korea; with Australia; with — you have Indonesia; with India; with the Middle East — with 11 countries at one meeting where even oil-producing countries stepped up and made things clearer; and, of course, China, included; as well as some Latin American countries and African countries.
So, I’m pleased with where we are, but I’m — I’m not sanguine. The next six months of diplomacy are going to be absolutely critical to the capacity to make Glasgow what it needs to be.
I do believe Glasgow remains our last best hope to be able to coalesce the world in the right direction and to get the critical mass of countries of the 20 biggest emitters, who are responsible for 81 percent of all the emissions — all 20 of them were here today, and almost all 20 of them were pledging to do additional things. So that’s our job is to be to clarify it over the course of these next weeks and months.
I’d just clarify very quickly: Japan said they’d cut emissions 46 to 50 percent by 2030 — strong efforts towards achieving a 50 percent reduction — up from its existing 26 percent reduction. Canada strengthening from a current 30 percent to a 40 to 45 percent. The Republic of Korea terminating overseas coal finance and preparing to update its NDC consistent with the 2050 net-zero goal. India, in partnership with the United States, to deploy 450 gigawatts of renewable power. Why is that important? Because if we can do that — which is where our finance component of this is so critical — if we do that, India is on track to hold the 1.5 degrees centigrade. So, Argentina announced a package of important measures. The UK, last week, just announced 78 percent target by 2035. And yesterday, EU announced a new law to embed the 55 percent reduction for 2030, and also the net zero.
So, you know, I think that it’s progress, but we still have a heavy lift, and no one should doubt the challenges of the road ahead. So, I’m happy to be here.
MS. PSAKI: All right. I know we’re very close to the tail end of when Gina has to go, so let’s try to get around very quickly.
SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah, let Gina (inaudible).
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.
Q Thank you. Secretary Kerry, to you, first: When it comes to the pledge, how can you realistically make this pledge to the rest of the world when there’s no guarantee that Republicans will get on board with your plan once you release it?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, a lot of the plan is executable through just executive order — I’m going to let Gina speak to this — but a lot of the plan is executable through order. But that’s the power of having the private sector here. That is the real reason why I’m saying to you that no politician in the future is going to undo this because, all over the world, trillions of dollars, trillions of yen, trillions of euros are going to be heading into this new marketplace. And the future belongs to the countries, as you heard today from any number of leaders, that are the ones who develop hydrogen — green hydrogen fuel, or storage, or battery storage, or direct carbon capture for the atmosphere. Some technology is going to break through here, folks.
And one of the things I know the President is thinking about is how to accelerate the innovation and the research and development that’s going to push that curve.
Gina, do you want to talk to that a little bit?
ADMINISTRATOR MCCARTHY: Sure. Just to indicate to you that this is — is really a result of understanding what our authorities are at the federal government, but also what’s happening at the local and state level, what’s happening in the business community, what kind of technologies that are ready to be deployed now, how many jobs can be created by this. This is not just a bottoms up; it’s also a values down. It’s also looking at how we grow as a country and be sustainable.
The plan that the President has put in place and the plan that we’re relying on here is a plan that we can deliver because we have the wherewithal to do it in terms of policies and programs, but we also have carefully looked at what we can deliver in terms of change. And the world is changing: It’s not going backwards; it is moving forward.
And the exciting thing about this is that this plan has received endorsements from the AFL-CIO, the Chamber of Commerce, the Edison Electrical Institute, and the IBEW. Does it get better than that? You know, this is because all of them recognize that we have to invest in America again. That’s what the American Jobs Plan is all about. That’s what we anticipate our country will do, because we know how to make this happen, we can put people back to work, and it’s time for us to think about hope and opportunity and get past the year that we’re finishing.
MS. PSAKI: Why don’t we —
SECRETARY KERRY: What —
MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead.
SECRETARY KERRY: No, I just had a lot of people who would say — stay here if (inaudible) — a lot of people would say, you know, if you hadn’t — if the President hadn’t put the plan forward, you’d be asking why you haven’t put the forward to do the building out of a transmission system for America or whatever it is. He put it forward, and it’s a legitimate thing to say, “Now can it get passed? Can you get there?”
But this is the — this job future is not something conjured up out of anybody’s imagination. This is the most real thing in the world. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are three jobs that will actually more than 50 percent this year. The first is 62 percent growth in wind turbine technician. The second is nurse practitioners, for obvious and unfortunate reasons. And the third is solar panel installer at 51 percent.
So, the jobs are growing there. I’m not offering that job to somebody who may feel, “Oh my God, I got a better job. I don’t want to lose that job,” et cetera.
But the job market here is going to be gigantic. And for electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, steelworkers, heavy-equipment operators — all of these people — building out America’s grid and transitioning us to this new future is — is going to happen in countries all over the world. We need to make sure we’re not left behind — in fact, that we’re leading in the creation of the new technologies and new opportunities.
ADMINISTRATOR MCCARTHY: And the only other thing I would I would mention is that, you know, wind and solar had the biggest year they’ve ever had last year. And — and what we saw last year was a continuation of tax credits that passed through a Republican-controlled Congress.
So we all know where this is heading. The real question is: Do we want to have the courage to grab it here, to prosper from the jobs here, and to stabilize our economy and our planet at the same time?
MS. PSAKI: I can hear your staff, Gina —
ADMINISTRATOR MCCARTHY: They’re yelling at me.
MS. PSAKI: — trying to pull you to Union Station.
ADMINISTRATOR MCCARTHY: And the only thing I will tell you is: Electric vehicles are another interesting piece. That’s actually going to be a big part of our future. I’m going to go check out a charging station and look at some of those vehicles.
But the thing I would encourage you to think about is that we’ve had many of the large car companies stand up and say, “100 percent EVs by 2035.” We didn’t say that. I didn’t even say “electric vehicles.” It was the very first thing they said to me is that that’s the future. And that’s what this is all about: What does our future look like? Who are we grabbing it for?
Happy Earth Day.
Q Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Do you have a few minutes?
SECRETARY KERRY: I’ll take a couple more, yeah.
MS. PSAKI: All right. Okay. Go ahead, Peter.
SECRETARY KERRY: (Inaudible.)
Q Secretary Kerry, thanks so much. So pledges, obviously, are important and they are great, but how do we realistically get there without turning the economy on its ear? As best you can, put this in real terms for folks. Does this mean the U.S. has to reach 40 percent renewable power by 2030; that we have to have 25 percent of the cars on the roads, by 2030, be electric? What does this mean to folks listening to you?
SECRETARY KERRY: What it means is that we’re going to be investing. This is not an ex- — you know, this is not a throwaway. This is an investment in new ways of getting energy to people that’s more efficiently delivered; that’s lower cost, in the long run; and that it’s — it’s really going to open up a whole group of employment opportunities that we know — that are beginning to be seen in America today.
And it’s not because the government is directing those things to happen; the marketplace is doing this. You can’t build a coal-fired power plant in the United States with a bank funding it, and no individual is going to throw their money down there.
Same thing in Europe today. Now starting in other countries — you just heard Korea to say, “We’re not going to fund any external coal.”
So there’s a transition that the market has undertaken, well before anybody proposed the program or anything. This is a transition that’s taking place. And we’ve historically always gone through these periods when, in America, we innovate, and we do the R&D, and we come up with a new product of some kind or another.
You know, I lived and represented for years — had the privilege of representing communities like Lowell and Lawrence and Brockton and plenty of places — you know, Fall River — that have these huge mills that were, you know, teeming with people working in the early 1900s, and then that changed. And it went south in our America — in our country, and then it went abroad.
Because that’s the transition in economies. And it happened in the Industrial Revolution, it happened in the revolution of technology in the 1990s, and it’s going to happen now. We always replace it with a different kind of — or some, you know, new opportunity.
And I don’t think it’s going to mean that much dislocation, frankly. It’s going to mean some greater opportunity.
Q What specifically can you — you probably can’t give specific numbers to those things on electric vehicles on the road then. But given what you witnessed with the last President, what — if President Biden is not to win again in 2024, what specifically can you do now to make sure that the next President, with a stroke of the pen, can’t reverse progress you’re trying to make right now?
SECRETARY KERRY: I’ll answer that very directly, but I want to begin by pointing out to you that there’s a company called Tesla, which is the highest-valued automobile company in the world. Why? All it makes is one product: electric vehicles. That is what is happening. That’s a signal. That’s the market saying, “Here we are. This is going to happen.”
And GM has now already announced, on its own, that they are only going to produce electric vehicles, as of 2035.
And Ford Motor Company — ask the president of Ford. I heard him at an event, standing up and saying the electric car is a better car. They love it. And I don’t know if you’ve driven one, but they’re fabulous. They’re really great.
And so, my — my feeling is that — that is going to take place because the market is sending signals and the consumer is sending signals.
Now, that said, how do you prevent somebody from coming along and preventing the stroke-of-a-pen change? Here’s — here’s what is going to happen, no question about it: Because the world, as a whole, is moving in this direction; because these companies have made this critical, long-term, strategic marketing judgment — and that is the way the market is moving — no politician, no matter how demagogic or how potent and capable they are, is going to be able to change what that market is doing, because it will have moved. It’ll have four years of entrenchment. And those jobs will be there. And people will see that this is the product people want to buy.
And they will also increasingly, I believe — more and more are convinced by the heat in the summer, by the floods, by the weather, by the intensity of storms, by the rising of sea level that we got to get moving. And I don’t think anybody is going to get back from that fast, because we’re way behind the eight ball on that. And the chances of seeing more damage before we see the progress is very, very real.
MS. PSAKI: We can do one or two more.
Go ahead, Jeff.
Q Thanks, Jen. Secretary Kerry, President Putin and Bolsonaro today both threw a little bit of shade at the United States with their comments about historical emissions. I was wondering what’s your take on their plans and your response to those criticisms, and whether or not you have an intention to travel to those countries.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, at some point, probably, travel will be warranted. We’ve been in conversations with both — with their teams — on this subject. We’re not at a place where we feel like we’re prepared to, you know, make the journey because there’s a sense that there may be something concrete that we can define, but I think there may be chances of it.
I listened to President Putin today. I thought he was pretty rational and put some decent, visionary thoughts on about things we might want to be looking at and cooperating together, and he talked about that possibility.
So, just as with China, where we found a way to try to at least create this chain, this line of communication, and where we have a long way to go — but it’s a beginning. And that’s the nature of diplomacy.
But I think that — I think that we’re in a place where we will have the ability to be able to create enough progress with other countries that those countries are going to come along, too. And I sense from both of them — I — some of the comments that President Bolsonaro made today surprised me for their — you know, that — that’s pretty good, that works if you do those things. The question is: Will they do them? And the question is: What’s the follow through and enforcement?
Now one of the things you ought to take note of is this program — the Trace Program — which Al Gore and different entities have been involved in, which is now the satellite capacity to measure in real time what the footprint is of corporations or countries all around the world.
And — and so there’s no hiding anymore, and there’s going to be real-time tracking. And that’s one of the things that will come out of Glasgow, I think, is sort of what’s the accountability structure going to be here for countries to be able to move.
So I think that, you know, Russia has reduced some emissions. Their economy is very different from ours and a lot of people on the planet. It’s mostly gas-based, as we know. That presents challenges for them going forward.
So I think there’s room to hopefully have a discussion about this, and we’ll see if we can find some common ground. I think that’s the most important summary of what I heard, in terms of their comments today.
Q And do think that the 50 to 52 percent that the President unveiled today, that Gina McCarthy put together is far enough for the U.S.?
SECRETARY KERRY: I think it’s — it’s doable. It’s a tough — it’s not — it’s not easy. Is it doable? Yes. Will we probably exceed it? I suspect yes.
I think a lot of us will wind up exceeding the predictions we’re making because we’re measuring predictions by the economies we have today and by the technologies we have today.
But five years from now, we may have a major breakthrough on batteries, on storage, on green hydrogen, on direct air carbon capture. There are so many things out there that people are chasing and working on, and that’s part of the value of the — sort of the investment in — and the venture capital business.
I mean, people are looking to — you know, to be the — the entity that hits pay-dirt with the patent on the best storage system that there is. And whoever does that will make more money than Jeff Bezos pretty quickly. That’s going to be a big deal.
Green hydrogen — there are a whole bunch of countries working on hydrogen and green. And if you can bring it up to scale at a cost that is not prohibitive so you’re competitive with other things, it starts to take off. I think these things are going to happen.
I tell you, I’m genuinely optimistic because so much is beginning to happen and because I believe in our ingenuity and our capacity. I know President Biden does. I’ve heard him talk about it. He believes we can do anything. You’ve heard him say it.
And think about it: We are the country that went to the Moon. And we didn’t know how we were going to get there when President Kennedy announced that goal, but we did it. We are the country that invented the Internet. Some people might regret that today, but we did that. We also got vaccines that are working, and we’ve shown we have the ability to get them out and put them in people’s arms.
So I believe that we have the ability. When — when, you know, you talk to Rafael Reif, the president of MIT, and you listen to what they’re trying to do at MIT or at Stanford or at CalTech or, you know, a number of other tech colleges and universities in America — if we were to join forces, as we’re going to try to, with other efforts around the world, we think there are just great opportunities, and I believe we’re going to — we’re going to break through. We’re going to know how to do hydrogen, and there’s plenty of it.
And this, I think, is the — is really the future. It’s why so many people are chasing it.
MS. PSAKI: Jen, last one.
SECRETARY KERRY: Maybe last one. Last one.
MS. PSAKI: But I will also give you the contact information for his team for anybody who wants to talk to him more. He has lots of thoughts, as you all know.
Q Kind of piggybacking off of Jeff’s last question: You know, there have been some groups that have been really positive about the NDC and the other steps that the administration has taken today — the climate finance stuff.
But there are also some who are saying it’s insufficient. And you referenced the young woman who spoke this morning, you know, and that deep passion about the crisis that previous generations have put on her generation.
What do you say to those people who say that 50 to 52 percent is not enough or that, you know, the several billion dollars that you’re committing for climate finance for developing countries is also insufficient, you know, when you consider just how big the U.S. budget is — that you’re talking about, you know, under $10 billion?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me just say to you that
I loved her passion and I loved what she said. I mean, I didn’t agree with every step of it. You can’t do some of this stuff overnight, just physically, and there are impediments to getting some of that done. But, boy, do I understand where she’s coming from.
I told you this was five years to the day that I signed the agreement. It’s also 50 years to the day that I testified before the United States Senate and I was camped on the Mall here with a bunch of veterans opposing the war in Vietnam.
And, you know, that was a period of time when young people — our generation — stood up and made our voices heard. And we had — we were part of the Civil Rights Movement — 1964-65; we were part of the women’s movement; part of the peace movement; part of the environment movement.
The environment movement back then produced. I was part of the first Earth Day. And we organized — I organized in Massachusetts, then we organized for the election. We targeted 12 Congress people who were labeled the “Dirty Dozen” — the worst of the Congress — and we beat 7 of them.
And that’s when we passed the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Marine Mammal Protection, the Coastal Zone Management, the Endangered Species, and we created the Environmental Protection Agency for our country. It all happened, folks, back then. Richard Nixon signed it into law — 1972, I think.
So, I believe in what the young folks are doing out there today. They’re trying to get adults to be adults and do what we’re supposed to do, which is take facts into consideration and respond to those facts and, as public officials, exercise the precautionary principle of governance that when you get information that says X, Y, and Z are going to happen, and there’s not a 5 or 6 or 10 percent chance it’s going to happen — like whether you might have a car accident and you get insurance, or your home might burn and you get insurance, or you might get sick and you get health insurance — it’s 100 percent certain that most of these things are going to happen — that the ice is melting; that the sea is rising; that — warming — and yet, we’re not buying insurance.
And so you’re darn right they’re angry, and I share that anger. It’s a frustration. But how do you get from here to there to get it done?
And I believe what President Biden is doing is leading to get us from here to there. What’s happening here today is a huge step forward to get us from here to there by setting these targets, by getting nations invested. By getting leaders to say publicly, “We have to do this,” you begin to get a foothold on holding them accountable and on moving forward and getting it done.
Is it enough? No, but it’s the best we can do today and prove we can begin to move and get the technologies and find the easier path and then, hopefully, get the job done. And I really believe that. I think we will get the job done, as President Biden said today, because of our capacity for innovation and research and development, and producing great products in the future, and meeting big challenges.
And we’ve always done that. And I think Americans are really anxious to do something like that. That’s why I’m here doing this, folks, and not, you know, in the private sector or retired and doing some things. It’s because I believe this moment is the moment, heading to Glasgow, where we need to get on track.
As I said to you earlier, over 50 percent of global GDP agreed here today that they’re going for 1.5 degrees, and what they’re doing will get them on track to do it.
So if we’re on track to do it, that’s pretty darn good, even though we know we need to move faster and we’re not, as a planet, as a group of countries, where we need to be. It’s probably a good note to end on.
Thank you all.
MS. PSAKI: Thank you so much, sir.
Q Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY KERRY: Let me get that. Are you now stepping out for your —
MS. PSAKI: No, I’ve got to do the briefing now. I’ll call you later. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. See how it was so great to work for him several times over? Okay, a couple — I think I just have one or two more items for you at the top. Just one more.
As you saw this morning, the latest unemployment insurance claims came out. They provide a welcome sign that our economy is slowly healing and also provide a reminder of the importance of both the pandemic programs, expend- — extended by the American Rescue Plan, and the 200 million shots we’ve gotten into the arms of Americans in less than 100 days.
While these weekly numbers can be volatile, we are encouraged by the fact that the four-week average is also down. It demonstrates that the administration’s combined efforts are building confidence in our economy and that the President’s approach can both create good-paying jobs and address the climate crisis.
With that, why don’t we go over to you.
Q Thank you. New York Times is reporting that the next phase of the American Family Plan will include tax increases on the wealthy to help pay for human infrastructure, like education. Could you confirm any of the details that tax increases are in the offing?
MS. PSAKI: Well, first, let me just reiterate: The President remains committed to his campaign commitment of not raising taxes for anyone making less than $400,000 a year, and that will certainly be reflected in his proposal he makes next week.
Let me also say that you can expect that he’ll outline the details of the American Families Plan in his Joint Session Address to Congress next Wednesday, April 28th.
But I will also say that he’s continuing to meet — despite how busy it is around here with the Climate Summit — with his policy team, and will be, over the coming days, to finalize the details of the package, including the investments in areas like child care, education, and other areas that are big priorities to him that we’ve talked about, as well as the payfors.
So I can’t get ahead. I’m not going to get ahead of him making final decisions, but the package will be laid out in the speech next week. It will focus on the areas that we’ve outlined: child care, education — historic investments in those. And as he ha- — did with the American Jobs Plan, he will also propose a way to pay for it.
Q And if I could just — very quickly: Some Republican lawmakers put out a slimmer infrastructure plan. It includes roads, water, some broadband — some things that the President wants in his plan, but smaller. Any reaction to the plan? And is it — do you guys see it as a legitimate starting point for a conversation?
MS. PSAKI: We do. The President has said from the beginning that he would welcome any good-faith effort to find common ground, because the only unacceptable step would be inaction.
We’ve seen some topline proposals or topline details, as you all have reported on. We’re looking forward to reviewing the details of the proposal. We would expect the next steps would be a full briefing and conversations on a staff level that will continue over the coming days, and an exchange of ideas from there.
And then we’d also expect — or I would expect that — you should all expect the President to invite members to the White House after — soon after the Joint Session Address.
But we certainly welcome any good-faith effort, and certainly see this as that. But there are a lot of details to discuss and a lot of exchanges of ideas to happen over the coming days.
Q Is President Biden going to extend his call for Americans to wear masks beyond 100 days?
MS. PSAKI: You know, Peter, he is working and in discussions with our health and medical experts about what we need to do to get the pandemic under control, including providing clear guidance to the American public about what the benefits of — are of being vaccinated, including getting it to communities and meeting people where they are. So I don’t have any update on that at this point in time.
Q And so then, I guess maybe this is the same but a little bit different: Should the CDC change its guidance right now that says that vaccinated Americans should be wearing masks when they’re outdoors — when they’re outside in public?
MS. PSAKI: We’re going to leave that to them to determine and to announce. And obviously, we would follow and abide by their guidance, and certainly would recommend that the American people do as well.
Q May I have a quick last one then on —
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
Q — on Armenian genocide. Should we expect President Biden, in the course of the next several days, perhaps this weekend, to make any formal announcements recognizing the Armenian genocide?
MS. PSAKI: I certainly understand the question and there’s a great deal of interest in this particular topic, but I don’t — I’m not going to get ahead of the President and I also don’t have anything else to provide from the podium today.
Q Back on trying to reach this 50 to 52 percent reduction goal, many of the measures that you’ve pointed to are ones that are included in this broader infrastructure plan. If you can’t get this plan passed though, can you still reach that target?
MS. PSAKI: Well, our view is that there are multiple pathways for each economic sector of the economy to — that produces greenhouse gases — including electricity, transportation, buildings, industry, and lands — to make adjustments and changes, some through executive action, some through passing legislation, some through the steps — as Gina and our envoy alluded to — the private sector is taking steps on their own.
So, you know, just to give you a couple of examples: You know, we, of course, have set a goal to reach 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, which can be achieved through multiple cost-effective pathways, each resulting in meaningful emissions reductions in this decade. That’s a step that is already underway.
We can create good-paying jobs and cut emissions and energy costs for families by supporting efficiency upgrades; that’s another area where it would have an impact.
We can reduce emissions from the transportation sector by reducing tailpipe emissions and boosting the efficiency of cars and trucks — something the President has talked about that he’s committed to do. And we can also invest, as you alluded to, in a wide array of transportation infrastructure.
But one of the arguments that we will be making — and continue to make, I should say, around the American Jobs Plan is that these industries are — we are moving in the direction of these industries. These are the industries of the future.
The big question is whether we are going to lead that effort or not — or is China going to lead that effort. And the last — the meetings today and tomorrow are just a reminder that the world is moving in this direction. So we either get on board and lead or we don’t, and there may be a disagreement about that.
Q You talked a lot, obviously, about job creation and the potential for that with this plan.
MS. PSAKI: Yeah.
Q But can you put this into further perspective for Americans? How does this new reduction target impact their everyday lives? What kind of changes can Americans really expect to see.
MS. PSAKI: Well, look, I think, as we’ve talked about a little bit — or as I just alluded to a little bit, but let me try to get more directly at your question: There are steps that are already underway. Right? There are steps that industries are already taking: investing in the future of electric vehicles, investing in the future of electric cars. That is something that if you talk to many automakers, they’re already moving toward that.
I think the question here — maybe it’s less for Americans. It is for Americans in the sense of: What is your government going to do to help ensure we are on the path to create — to make this a job-creating opportunity for the American people? You know, how are we going to prepare and invest in industries now so that your children and your grandchildren have opportunities in these industries that are growing?
But this is already where the private sector is going. This is already where the jobs are in the future. So what we’re really questioning now is how we can incentivize and how we can prepare the economy and opportunities for the next generation.
Q Thanks, Jen. You just mentioned and Secretary Kerry mentioned the fact that the market is already heading towards electric vehicles. There’s no turning back from that; it’s an unstoppable force.
If that’s the case, why should taxpayers pay for 500,000 electronic — electric vehicle charging stations? Isn’t that something that will get taken care of by the market?
MS. PSAKI: You know, I think there’s a role for government to play. Our view, the President’s view is there’s a role for government to play to incentivize, to ensure that there is continued movement in this direction, but there’s also a great deal — a lot of the investment that’s in the American Jobs Plan is about ensuring that there are industries and jobs that are created in sectors in the future to help the next generation survive and prosper.
So, yes, there is a private-sector partnership here. There’s a role of the private sector. But our view is there’s also a role of the public sector, and that this is a — these are industries that are also going to create jobs, and that’s part of the role we can play.
You know, and I don’t think — I know there’s been criticism out — there are questions about how this is going to impact job creation, today — right? — and job creation in our economy today — or some criticism, I should say, from some — some Republicans in Congress that I’ve read, this morning — seen on the Twit- — on Twitter.
But, you know, the President is somebody who has created — will be the first in history to create a million jobs in his first 100 days in office. He’s on track for that, in our view.
And a lot of these critics are the same people who advocated for the policies of the last administration and the last President who oversaw an economy that lost more jobs than any President since Hubert Herver [sic] — Hoo- — Herbert Hoover. It’s quite a — quite a name.