tv The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations Bloomberg February 19, 2022 1:00pm-1:30pm EST
>> this is my kitchen table and also my filing system. over the past three decades i have been an investor. the highest calling of mankind is private equity. then i started interviewing. i learned how leaders make it to the top. i have something i would like to sell. and how they stay there. >> you don't feel inadequate
being only the second wealthiest man in the world, is that right? over the past several decades one of the most prominent political figures in the u.s. in the world has been john kerry. he see -- served as senior senator from massachusetts, nominee for his party for president in 2004 and secretary of state under president obama. under president biden he is special envoy for climate change. i have known john kerry for recent years and had a chance recently to sit down and told him about climate change and other issues facing the u.s.. david: very few secretaries of state in the last hundred years, or maybe ever, have gone back into government. why did you want to come back into government for any issue when you have eight grandchildren, two daughters, wonderful family. why did you want to come back in and go through this terrible process we have in washington of getting things through consensus and to agree to what you want?
john: because i want those grandchildren to have a future. it is very simple. we are not on a good track now. the world is not serious enough about reducing our emissions fast enough, david. the result is the planet will continue to evolve in reaction to what we human beings are doing to it. mostly through fossil fuels. most of the emissions going up nowadays into the atmosphere creating this increased level of energy that comes from the ocean and goes into the storms, the floods, the rain, all of it is explainable and it is all linked to the changes we are creating on the planet. it is very simple. i wanted to come in because i think we have a real chance now to make something happen and i think glasgow was a major step forward. david: some people urge you to run for president this most
recent election. i thought i read in the newspapers you thought about it but when joe biden decided to run you said you would not run against him. john: i decided before joe biden decided to run. i thought joe biden had a better narrative than i did. he is a great friend through many years. we have known each other back to the early 1970's. i really thought he could win and was the best guy for the job. david: you campaign for him. john: only joe biden can make america leads like america again. david: he gets elected and says, can you come back and serve again? did you say, i am retired, i don't want to do it. or did you say, i really want to do it. john: i was excited by the prospect. i did not know what it would be specifically and we had to work out parameters to understand exactly what the dynamics would be but the idea of having a president who wanted to get back
into paris, to make this one of his top security issues, one of his top issues overall, the idea of having a president that would continue to push, as he has been to help us get something like glasgow is exciting. i felt super motivated about that. david: kim baker once said the best job in washington is the secretary of state. you were secretary of state for auto years. that's a great job -- four years. that's a great job. now you work in the building where you were secretary of state but you are not secretary of state anymore. is it, kayden? the man who was your deputy is now secretary of state. john: he is doing a great job. i think the administration is right on track now with respect to ukraine. they have been strong and
skillful and i am happy doing one issue, believe me. david: let's talk about lascaux. many times when you -- glasgow. when it -- many times when you have international conferences things are worked out in advance. but my impression is in paris and glasgow it was not all worked out. john: it cannot be all worked out. nations have different interests. we have 190 five nations coming to the table and everybody's voice needs to be -- 195 nations coming to the table and everybody's voice needs to be factored in. some of the dynamics do not come together until the clock strikes midnight and you know you have to fish or cut bait. there are always last-minute things that arise. david: i understand that on it lascaux you were running around in the night working with other delegations trying to cut deals and in the end people said it was a pretty good deal. was that your view as well? john: yes.
i think it was a forward leaning, strong agreement, david. it has the single greatest raising of ambition that this process has ever achieved. it has unanimity about what has to happen in terms of raising efforts around the world. we signed on together with the plans individual nations have. when you tie those to the initiatives that many different countries came together to embark on themselves, altogether, the international agent -- energy agency has run the models and all of the promises, it actually could get us to hold 1.8 degrees by 2050. now, that is encouraging. that means you can do things that make a difference, at least in the models. the trick now, not a trick, the challenge now is that over the course of the next eight years, we have to reduce emissions by at least 45% globally in order
david: the consensus seems to be you cannot do these things overnight. so you have a time you allow people to change their habits. that consensus is by 2050 is the time we want to measure success, is that right? john: yes. this is not a politically or ideologically arrived at goal. thousands of scientists tell us. in the last report of 2018, that if we want to avoid the worst consequent as of the climate crisis we have to reduce our emissions and get to know zero by 2050. the only way to get to net zero by 2050 is to begin now to reduce because there is no curve steep enough to reduce later. you have got to start now. that is why the next eight years, this decade, though
scientists have said to us, to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis, you must reduce emissions by 45% over the next 10 years. that is 2020 to 2030. so, we have set our goal. president biden has set a goal that we will reduce our emissions by 50% to 52% over the next eight years. in canada it is about 45% to 50%. japan, 45 to 50%. europe, 55% reduction. u.k., 68%. south africa, 50 something. so, people stepped up. we have 65% of global gdp committed to hold onto the 1.5 degrees. but that means obviously you have 35% that is not. so our effort now, david, is called implementation plus. we want to implement the promises made in glasgow and we want to add to them to bring
that other 35% of people to the table. if everybody does what we said we would do, currently, that is without eight or nine countries, that would make in a norma's difference to this -- and enormous difference to this, but currently they say we could get 1.8 degrees by 2050. that is pretty amazing. if we can do that without china, india, russia, indonesia, mexico, south africa, saudi arabia, a group of countries, we need them to come aboard. if we get everybody on board, we could actually get -- keep 1.5 degrees alive or minimize the damage done. david: the countries you mention have not signed onto this yet completely? john: they have signed on to various efforts. china does have a plan in place but in our judgment we need to go further faster. that judgment is reinforced by the judgment of the international energy agency that
says last year coal went up 9%. over where we were in 2021, 2020. david: around the world? i did u.s. it went up two, didn't it? john: it did. there are about 300 gigawatts of nuchal construction coming online -- new coal construction coming online at a time where the international agency says you have to reduce coal plants by 870 gigawatts. so the imbalance of that is dangerous for everybody. it is at the heart of what we have to try to tackle now. david: one of the challenges has been developing nations, and some people would say china is a developing nation and india is a developing nation, you guys in the west has been polluting for long time, why don't we get a chance to play for a while and get our economy in a better shape and then -- to pollute for
a while and get our economy in better shape? john: because there will not be much world left. that is the reality. no country can solve this problem by itself. if we went to zero emissions tomorrow we would still need china, russia, india to be on board. i have heard this argument face-to-face with different ministers and people who say, wait a minute, you are doing this a long time ago. yes. but it was not until 1988 and the 1990's that this issue arose and people were aware of what we were doing. from that point in time, we have made bona fide efforts continually to try to be fair and bring people to the table and spend money and change the dynamic. david: the chinese were saying recently, we have a lot of issues with the u.s.. we will resolve all the issues including climate change. i understand you did negotiated
with glasgow and got the chinese to agree we will separate out the climate change issue. is that fair? john: yes. we had agreed to separated previously and president biden and president xi jinping had talked about it. that had been our point of you from the beginning here. this is not a bilateral issue. this is not an issue between china and the u.s.. david: except to the degree that one of the other as -- is continuing the problem, we all have a right to push back. this is a global issue. every country can do things that make a difference here. i mean, china is about 30% of all the emissions on the planet. the u.s. is 10% now. then you have india behind us. the eu. russia. indonesia. sequentially down to about 2%, one point something percent of
all the emissions. so, 20 countries, david. basically, the g20. not exclusively g20. they account for 80% of all the emissions on the planet. if you can get those 20 countries to come together and work fast enough we can really have a profound impact on the choice of their governments are making, i.e., what happens in africa as they develop. we want them to develop. we want latin america to develop area we want south asia to develop. but we want them to develop clean, smart. that does not mean building coal. it means using renewables, moving into new energy. we have to develop further. battery storage. clean hydrogen. carbon capture. that to make an enormous difference in utilization of the carbon from one product to another. so, there is a lot of research being done but not even enough at this point in time.
done and renewables, so forth, tax incentives. i think maybe $500 billion. that legislation is stalled now. blasko, -- glasgow people say, you have all of these incentives but you are not getting them through the congress. why should we listen to you? john: no question about it, i have heard it. the fact is the infrastructure bill biden proposed, past, and signed into law has major initiatives to deal with the global crisis. so, for instance, building charging stations around the nation. helping with incentives for the conversion to electric vehicles. building out a grid in america. a smart grid with transmission and so forth. i think that is about $60 billion, $70 billion for that. so, major steps have already
passed. i know that the president will continue to try to fight for the best parts of what he thinks he can get through on what was billed back better. i do not know if it will be that are something else. but we need that. we need that for the planet. what we do in america will matter enormously to what happens in other parts of the world. david: let's say i am a country that is in glasgow sitting down with you. i know you have the best of intentions, but donald trump's popularity seems to be high. why should i listen to you? we could go through the u.s. pulling out of these agreements again. john: i have not had that question but i believe, and i think you will agree with me, there is no way any president down the road, and i believe president biden has three more years and he could be reelected, and will be, because of what he has achieved. i think once we get beyond
covid, once we see this transition between taking hold, our economy is doing pretty well. the unemployment is low. a lot of the uncertainty now evolves -- revolves around covid. and a few other things. let me say this. no president in the future would walk into the white house and undo what is going on around the world. this is bigger than the united states. people all around the world are retooling. in america do you think the ford motor company and general motors which have completely retooled their factories to build electric, you think they will suddenly say, no, electric is not the future? electric is the future for automobiles around the world. that is already happening. the pace at which electric is in demand. why is tesla the highest valued company in the world?
so, with the trillions of dollars going into clean hydrogen, batteries, and battery storage, carbon capture, while companies all around the world, and you know this, david, you says on boards and have been the ceo, there are boardrooms all around the planet where the discussion is about esg, environmental and social governments -- governance. people are concerned about being with possible. the finance factor will demand disclosure of risk. people will be making risk judgments about the kind of investments being made. i think, i do not see any politician anywhere in the world undoing what is happening in the private sector today. that will continue. it will grow far above what it is today. david: let's suppose i say i agree with what you are saying that i am not able to impact climate change. i am just a capitalist.
i want to be an investor. will i make money by investing in the climate change economy or lose money? john: you will be able to make money. there are a lot of people already investing in it and making money. i know people in certain parts of the world who will remain nameless investing to the tune of billions of dollars in alternative renewable energy and deploying it around the world. it is cheaper to do that than it is to build a coal plant, than to buy the coal. it is cheaper than it is for fossil fuel today. if people did the real accounting, which they do not do, the real cost of fossil fuel ought to contain the damage to the atmosphere, the damage to the planet, the warming of the ocean, black lung, health. the real cost of this is way beyond what is factored in at the pump or anywhere else. you know that. there are subsidies. we have about $2.5 billion of subsidies in the system.
last year there were about 40 billion dollars of subsidies to fossil fuel that is causing the problem. that does not make sense, david. so i think you will see a ceased -- a seachange. good exxon mobil. three seats on the board of directors have gone to people active caring about climate and it changed what that company is thinking about and doing with respect to that. >> you are obviously passionate about the suspect. john: i am passionate about it because the negatives that will come with ignoring this further are so identifiable that it is almost like the vaccination issue. i do not want to get into it too deeply. 99% of the people dying aren't vaccinated. 97% of people in the hospital are not vaccinated. it is about the same here. we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars cleaning up the mess after a storm that we
might have been better off preventing in the first place. all of the literature is clear. all the economic analysis is clear. it will cost us far more not to take action than it costs to take action. so, comments and says let's get to work. david: you came to washington in 1985 as a senator. how is washington different than 1985? john: night and day. david: then there was bipartisanship, to some extent? john: more than some extent. we would get together in the city on a given night and have republicans and democrats at the table and eat dinner and laugh and tell jokes and do some business too. the next day you could come into the senate and build on what had happened. that does not happen. david: why do you think that has changed? john: a lot of reasons. not the least of which is the amount of money it takes to run for office in america now. huge amounts of money. there is a constant process of
having to get on an airplane and go raise money. david: you look at your incredible career of service. what would you say you are most proud of having achieved so far? john: i can't even begin to answer that. i mean, i am proud that for 28 years i had the privilege of representing massachusetts and we did some very exciting things with health care and children and the foreign relations committee, ending the war with vietnam with john mccain. he and i worked hard to try to put the vietnam war to bed and do it the right way by answering the questions families had about missing in action prisoners. i am proud of that. i am proud of keeping face with combatants in that effort. i think the aranda nuclear agreement was one of the strongest in history. >> this is a good deal we have sought. john: tragically, the president
pulled out of that and now you see where we are. i ran his back. the nuclear weapon is threatening again. we are in a far more dang world -- dangerous world. i am proud of that agreement. i am proud of the paris agreement and the glasgow agreement. >> we emerge from glasgow to solve the challenge in the decade and beyond. john: perhaps, if we look at where we are heading at what we need to do, those are among the most important things. david: as you look back on your career, you have no regrets you do not go into private invest -- equity investment or anything like that? john: my life would be different probably. no. i have loved every minute of what i have done. who knows? maybe there's still time to do some of that. david: you have eight grandchildren. what are they call you, secretary, special envoy? john: mostly grandpa.
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