Remarks by the Second Gentleman at the Alternatives to Charcoal Project Grant Launch in Lusaka, Zambia

March 31, 2023

[As Prepared for Delivery.]


The work that you are doing will help to transition our world to a green economy, while improving human well-being and social equity.

Good afternoon.

Representatives of USAID, representatives of the Zambian government, and distinguished guests. It is an honor to join you today.

My wife, Vice President Kamala Harris, and I just traveled here from Tanzania. And before Tanzania, we were in Ghana.

The vice president and I are here in Zambia to strengthen our democratic partnership and advance our shared priorities. Our trip follows the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit that was hosted by President Biden and Vice President Harris last year.

Today's event is a part of our efforts to build upon our commitments.

One of those commitments being to work with our global partners to advance our shared climate adaptation and resilience goals.

Let me be clear: we are experiencing a climate crisis. Extreme climate change is an existential threat facing the United States and our world.

We're seeing extreme weather events across the globe, and we know that these events can have dire consequences.

Zambia has experienced severe droughts which have led to food and water insecurities and have had disastrous impacts on the energy sector. Catastrophic flooding in the region has destroyed crops and left tens of thousands of people homeless.

Forests are being decimated for charcoal, making ecosystems and the communities that depend upon them less resilient to these dramatic weather events and contributing to emissions that exacerbate the climate crisis.

Extreme weather events can also lead to a rise in gender-based violence as women and girls are forced to traverse longer distances for water.

Each company joining us today is helping communities adopt alternative cooking technologies that reduce Zambia's dependence on charcoal. These alternatives will help to reduce deforestation and mitigate climate change's most devastating impacts.

These alternatives will also protect the health and economic well-being of women and children who are the most impacted by the use of charcoal in homes and suffer from direct exposure to indoor air pollution.

Climate equity is but one important reason to reduce emissions from household energy use. Health equity is another powerful reason.

President Biden and Vice President Harris are committed to working with partners around the world to reduce emissions from home cooking that contribute to extreme climate change and directly affect the health and livelihoods of approximately 30 percent of the world's population.

My wife, the vice president, has made tackling the climate crisis one of her main priorities. Just yesterday, she met with entrepreneurs in Tanzania to discuss climate resilience, climate-smart agriculture, and food security.

And throughout our travels, she has been clear: The United States will not be guided by what we can do for our African partners, but by what we can do with our African partners.

As part of our commitments, I am proud to announce that USAID has issued $1 million in grants to the six local Zambian companies who joined us here today: Emerging Cooking Solutions, Vitalite, Burn Manufacturing Company, KDD Gas, Tandem, and Financial Sector Deepening.

This funding will promote clean cooking technologies and will support the scaling up of liquified petroleum gas use, efficient electric cooking, biomass gasifier stoves, and innovative pay-as-you-go technologies in urban areas.

As the infinite cost of extreme climate change reaches irreversible highs, now is the time for bold collective action.

Thank you to the grantees, private sector, and community members, and the Zambian Government for taking action to address this climate crisis and for your efforts to support Zambia's clean cooking sector.

The vice president and I are excited and optimistic about the future of Zambia. We look forward to continuing our partnership and creating a future that is fair and equitable for all.

Doug Emhoff, Remarks by the Second Gentleman at the Alternatives to Charcoal Project Grant Launch in Lusaka, Zambia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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