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Interview With British Prime Minister Boris Johnson; Interview with U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry; NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired November 02, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: You have got to be doom and gloom. And you have got to remain doom and gloom until we really think that we
have fixed this thing.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): My exclusive interview with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on this make-or-break moment for humanity.
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE: The climate issue is an existential to China as it is to us.
AMANPOUR: U.S. climate envoy John Kerry tells me why he's hopeful that China eventually can and will help save our future.
DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: I hope nobody thinks I just had a bad day and said, OK, I'm done with this.
AMANPOUR: Dr. Francis Collins tells Walter Isaacson why he stood down as director of the National Institutes of Health after 12 years guiding U.S.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour at the conference center here at the COP 26 summit in Glasgow.
Now, they don't share the same global view of most things, but leaders from the United States, Russia, China, along with more than 100 others, have
committed to end and reverse deforestation by 2030.
Take a listen to President Biden and Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Through this plan, the United States will help the world deliver on our shared goal of halting natural
forest loss and restoring at least an additional 200 million hectares of forest and other ecosystems by the year 2030.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We expect this implementation to facilitate closer partnerships between all interested
states in forest conservation.
But this will undoubtedly serve to fulfill the objectives of reducing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere set out in the Paris agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the U.S.-led alliance pledges to cut methane emissions by 30 percent by the end of the decade.
These pledges are nonbinding, but they are being touted as early wins for this climate summit and for its host, the British prime minister, Boris
He sat down with me for an exclusive interview on the sidelines of this conference.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Johnson, welcome to the program.
JOHNSON: Christiane, hi. Great to be here.
AMANPOUR: So, you were a little bit doom and gloom before this all started.
You -- in a classroom full of children, you said it's touch and go whether we will achieve the target of 1.5.
You know, you have talked about defusing the doomsday bomb or the clock. Are you doom and gloom?
JOHNSON: I think you have got to be doom and gloom. And you have got to remain doom and gloom until we really think that we have fixed this thing.
This is a massive problem.
I thought that David Attenborough's presentation yesterday morning was absolutely spellbinding, because he set out for everybody to understand so
clearly the link between the rising carbon, the percentage, the proportion of carbon in the world's atmosphere and the rise in temperatures.
And you can see that link over thousands of years. And then, suddenly, you see this spike in carbon, and you see the beginnings of the rise in
temperature. And you know what is going to come. And you can see the risk to the planet.
And so the threat is huge. I think it has been very humbling, really, to listen to some of the testimonies from countries like Bangladesh or the
Maldives, the Seychelles, people who are in the front line.
AMANPOUR: But let me ask you about those.
JOHNSON: So, I think people have been really thinking about what more they can do.
AMANPOUR: Some of these front-line countries, including like Barbados...
JOHNSON: Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: I talked -- I spoke to the prime minister yesterday...
AMANPOUR: ... Mia Mottley. She's an amazing woman.
AMANPOUR: And she actually gave a rip-roaring speech to the plenary.
JOHNSON: ... brilliant speech.
AMANPOUR: And she basically is calling code red on you all, particularly on China, some of the biggest polluters.
AMANPOUR: But she also says that you all are kicking the can down the line.
In other words, the rich countries, which are meant to provide a lot of money, $100 billion per year to help mitigate the effects of climate change
on the poorer or more developing countries, it's not happening yet. Why not? These pledges have been made, but not kept.
JOHNSON: Well, Mia -- I thought Mia's speech, again, was like Attenborough's, I thought it was -- David Attenborough -- I thought it was
And she set out the position of the small island nations, what they're really facing, the reality of more hurricanes, the reality of poverty and
destitution as a result of climate change. And we have to recognize.
So, what I'm saying is, we have to -- before we claim that things are getting better or that we're making progress, we have to be humble in the
face of the scale of the problem we have. This problem is huge.
Now, are we starting to inch forward at COP? Yes, I think that, arguably, we are. And I think that, in some important ways, you're seeing some good
commitments on trees today, on forest, which is very important for tackling climate change. You're seeing some important contributions on accelerating
the move away from coal. You heard a big announcement from Japan today about money, to get to Mia Mottley's point.
Now, we have got until the middle of the month. You have got less than two weeks to go. How much more progress can we make? And that's the issue. And
what -- everybody knows what we have to achieve. Everybody knows that we have to do enough, we have to commit enough to reducing CO2 output through
reducing coal use, through stopping vehicular emissions from cars, planting more trees, funding new technology around the world.
We have to have a program that will enable us to say that we have kept alive the goal of only increasing temperatures by 1.5 degrees.
AMANPOUR: So, will you then -- because, clearly, I ask all the leaders who I talk to, well, what are you doing to show that you're credible and that
your nation is credible in these pledges, and it's not just rhetoric, that it's reality?
So, as you know better than I do, there are coal -- coal fields planned for, coal digging plan for Cumbria in this country. And would you say that,
at this point, given everything you're saying to me now, you would intervene to stop that?
JOHNSON: I don't have the legal powers. That's something for local planning.
AMANPOUR: But local planning has already ruled on it and it's come back to the government.
JOHNSON: But what we're already saying, and if you look at what has already happened in the U.K., is, we have moved away from coal at
The story of U.K. coal -- don't forget what happened in our country. We had -- when I was -- when I was a kid, we had 80 percent of our power came from
coal. And when I was mayor of London, when you first inter -- when you interviewed me last time, it was 40 percent, all right?
So, between that interview, Christiane, and this one, we have gone from 40 percent to less than 1 percent, in the space of two interviews.
AMANPOUR: Less than 1 percent?
JOHNSON: Less than 1 percent. It's roughly -- it's roughly there.
And it's going to go down to zero by 20 -- going to go down to zero by 2024.
AMANPOUR: So, why not just say -- as a man with goodwill after this summit that you're hosting...
AMANPOUR: ... and for everything you're saying -- because I understand it's come back to the government, to the minister in charge.
JOHNSON: Because I -- because we are a legal -- a legally scrupulous and punctilious country. And there's a planning decision that has to be taken.
And I'm not the planning authority.
But I don't want...
AMANPOUR: But it is your government.
JOHNSON: I don't want more coal. And our government doesn't want more coal. And we're going to...
AMANPOUR: And would you intervene to stop it?
JOHNSON: We will do what is legally -- we're legally able to do. But this is a planning decision.
And if you look at the reality, the reality is, we have powered past coal. We will get to -- we will be able to get to net zero energy production,
clean energy production, by 2035.
We're going ahead with no new internal combustion engine vehicles by the end of this decade, all right? That is going to be like eight years away by
Christmas, by the end of this year. This is an incredible speed to do things.
The U.K.'s nationally determined contribution for reducing CO2 is on -- 68 percent on 1990 levels. But the reason we have credibility, Christiane, in
doing this -- you asked about the credibility of the U.K.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And I have got another one on...
JOHNSON: ... is because we have already cut CO2, by how much? Forty-four percent.
AMANPOUR: OK, that's wonderful.
JOHNSON: Forty-four percent on 1990 levels.
AMANPOUR: But you still won't tell me why your government won't intervene to stop the coal in Cumbria, because it's -- I understand it's come to
Minister, Secretary, however you describe it here, Gove.
But, in any event, let's move on to Cambo in the Shetlands off -- off the Shetlands in the North Sea.
Your Scotland minister has said -- and that is for oil and gas drilling, right? And your Scottish secretary has said, 100 percent, we need to have
it done, we cannot run away from oil and natural gas.
Doesn't that fly in the face of everything you're telling me now, that we do actually...
JOHNSON: No, not at all.
AMANPOUR: ... have to fly away those CO2-emitting fuels?
JOHNSON: There's -- don't forget, there's a future for hydrocarbons if you liberate the hydrogen from the carbon and you sequester the carbon.
That's what we're -- that's what we're going to do. We have massive plans for creating green hydrogen and blue hydrogen, and for carbon capture and
storage. And so there's a -- there's an agenda in the U.K. to be at the cutting edge of new technology to drive change.
And, yes, of course, the oil fields and the gas fields in the North Sea and in -- in Scotland have been of great importance to our country for decades
and decades ago, again, when I was a kid, and they remain important.
But what you're seeing is young people in those industries now moving into the incredible growth of wind farms. And...
AMANPOUR: And let me ask you about wind farms. When you were mayor...
JOHNSON: They are -- they are extraordinary.
AMANPOUR: When you were mayor...
JOHNSON: And if you look at -- if you look at what we're doing, I think we now have the biggest -- so the U.K., which has only 0.7 percent of the
world's population or 0.8 percent of the world's population, is the biggest producer of offshore wind in the world.
AMANPOUR: OK, so when you were mayor...
JOHNSON: We are a wind superpower.
AMANPOUR: ... you wrote an article in "The Daily Telegraph" -- it might have just been before you were mayor -- in which you said wind turbines
could not -- are so puny, they could not even rip the skin off a rice pudding.
For our viewers, a rice pudding is a very famous English dessert.
JOHNSON: It's not just an English dessert. It's a global dessert.
AMANPOUR: OK, it's a global dessert.
JOHNSON: The whole world eats...
AMANPOUR: A global British dessert.
JOHNSON: Are you saying that the viewers of CNN are unfamiliar with rice pudding? Everybody knows what a rice pudding is.
AMANPOUR: OK, so have you changed? You have clearly changed your mind, right?
JOHNSON: Yes, I have. I have.
AMANPOUR: Because now you're spouting: wind farms.
JOHNSON: And I have.
AMANPOUR: What made you a convert?
JOHNSON: Technology. Technology, the -- it's -- the development in the technology of wind farms has been unbelievable.
And so, if you look at the sophistication of the nacelles, the turbines now, the size of the turbine and the way they're able to build sail, build
wings, blades, propeller blades for the turbines, that are twice the size of the London Eye, right?
So, the diameter of the turbines we're now putting up in the North Sea are twice the diameter of the London Eye. Imagine that. These are enormous
creations. They're actually rather beautiful.
The issue is, what do we do in the North Sea to make sure that they're integrated into the ecosystems? How do we protect the marine life? How do
we make sure that birds don't suffer?
There are lots of ways of doing that. But you have got a source of long- term clean, green energy.
AMANPOUR: So, do you think this is -- I want to ask you one last question on the climate.
JOHNSON: And the Dogger Bank -- and the Dogger Bank, by the way, the reason we -- I just want to just give you a geographical...
AMANPOUR: Yes, I know, but we're running out of time. I don't know what Dogger Bank is.
JOHNSON: The Dogger Bank is -- the Dogger Bank is the -- is the -- 6,000 years ago, Britain was connected to Holland by a stretch of land, right,
which called Doggerland, where the Dogger people lived did and whatever they did.
And there was then a catastrophe, a cataclysm in -- called the Storegga, where there was a landslip, and under -- sorry -- undersea landslide in --
off the coast of Norway, which inundated all of Doggerland.
The result is that -- to cut a long story short, it's very shallow. And people are always dredging up artifacts from the Dogger civilization. And
you can put wind turbines there in great numbers and harvest the very violent winds of the North Sea.
Can I move on to COVID?
AMANPOUR: Because there's a big spike in COVID in this country, and it's - - the record here is worse than it is elsewhere around Europe.
JOHNSON: Well, I would dispute that.
But, anyway, go on.
AMANPOUR: Well, but the facts and the figures show it.
JOHNSON: Again, I would dispute that.
AMANPOUR: OK. Should I read them?
JOHNSON: You can read whatever you like. But...
AMANPOUR: Well, first of all, let me -- I mean, just let me ask you the question.
AMANPOUR: You have said you're going to stick to plan A...
AMANPOUR: ... which is no mandatory masks, keep the vaccines going, none of the social distancing or vaccine proofs that some of the other countries
But the NHS Confederation and the British Medical Association have just come out and said, plan B should be implemented now, in other words, masks
when it's appropriate in crowded places, some sort of social distancing. And they're saying maybe even -- maybe even vaccine proof.
Why would you not? It's a very cheap and easy -- and people are used to masks. Why would you not do that? They say there will be potentially yet
another terrible pressure on the NHS this winter.
JOHNSON: Well, I am watching the data the whole time. Thank you.
We're all looking at the data. We have got to remain very cautious. We have got to remain humble in the face of the -- of nature, of what the disease
At the moment, we don't see any reason to deviate from the plan that we're on that began really at the beginning of the year with the road map for
rolling out the vaccine and getting ourselves onto a different footing, starting to deal with COVID as something that is part of our lives, but
using vaccination as the primary tool.
And that's what we're doing. And I think that the most important thing for our U.K. viewers, Christiane, is that they should get their third jab, get
AMANPOUR: The booster.
JOHNSON: The booster is the thing.
And I had a very interesting conversation earlier on with Naftali Bennett of the -- of Israel.
AMANPOUR: Of Israel.
JOHNSON: And he -- it's -- that third jab gives you a huge amount of protection.
And, conversely, if you don't have it, then the protection starts to wane. And so, even if you have had two jabs, I think people need to wake up to
the fact that, without the booster...
AMANPOUR: That's kind of what is happening now.
JOHNSON: ... they're going to be less protected.
And we need them to get the boosters in the way that they got their first two.
AMANPOUR: Do you want to answer what's going around on social media?
You brought up the national treasure Sir David Attenborough. And there you all were in the plenary. He's 95 years old. He was wearing a mask, and you
weren't. It's all over the place.
JOHNSON: Right. I...
AMANPOUR: You weren't wearing a mask yesterday sitting next to 95-year-old national treasure David Attenborough.
JOHNSON: Well, I have been -- I have been wearing a mask when -- in confined spaces with people that I don't normally meet.
And I think it's up to people to take a judgment about whether they're -- whether they're at a reasonable distance from someone and whether they're
with someone they don't normally meet.
That's what -- that's what -- that's the approach we take in our...
AMANPOUR: Going back to the U.S. and climate -- and this will be the last question -- you have obviously seen that there have been successive
American administrations who have signed on to various climate summits...
AMANPOUR: ... like Kyoto and Paris and the others...
AMANPOUR: ... and then others who have pulled out.
What do you say to fellow leaders? What do you think yourself about, how far can one trust any U.S. administration that, whatever you might say and
do and promise, another one might just pull out of what you have all achieved?
JOHNSON: So, I'll tell you what's made it -- what's changed.
I think -- so, I was at Paris. I was at Copenhagen, right? I was there more than 10 years ago, 12 years ago in Copenhagen. And -- well, it was six
years ago in Paris. I remember these events very well.
And they were totally different. They were very different, because what was happening then was that you had kind of global leaders -- and Copenhagen,
hardly anybody covered. I mean, you might have been there, but it wasn't a huge international story.
AMANPOUR: It wasn't. You're right.
JOHNSON: Paris was much bigger.
JOHNSON: But, again, it sort of felt like the delectable disputations of global leaders, rather than something that was really being driven by
What's changed now, Christiane, is that the -- I think the voters in our countries want change. And the voters in our countries want us to fix this
thing. And I believe that goes for all the great Western democracies. But I think it also goes for populations around the world, because one thing you
saw with COVID is that people are not fools.
And they can -- and when they see something that they don't like and they think is a natural disaster impending, like COVID, they took action. People
stopped mingling in the way that they had before, even without governments telling them to do so.
People can see that climate change is a problem. They can see what's happening with the wildfires and the flooding. They know that something out
of the -- out of the normal run of events is taking place. And it's moving up their agenda.
And I believe that Joe has -- understands that. Joe Biden, the president of the United States, understands that. And I think that he's -- people are
very enthusiastic about his agenda to fix it.
But I think that any future president of the United States is going to be responding to strong, strong democratic pressure to join and support the
rest of the world in fixing climate change.
AMANPOUR: Could go on, but...
JOHNSON: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: ... you have limited time.
Thank you, Prime Minister, for joining us.
JOHNSON: It was great to see you. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And, indeed, the urgency of this year's summit is palpable.
And few people know this as well as my next guest, the former Secretary of State of the United States John Kerry.
He has been making the case for the climate at these conferences for decades, famously signing the U.S. into the Paris climate agreement six
years ago with his granddaughter on his lap.
And now that he's President Biden's climate czar, he tells me why he thinks the world is more engaged now than ever before.
AMANPOUR: Secretary Kerry, welcome back to our program.
KERRY: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: So, look, there was a lot of lowering of expectations in the immediate days leading to this summit where we are.
And I'm just wondering whether, overnight, the announcement on deforestation is to give us a touchy-feely good feeling, or is it a really
major good news item that's come out of this?
KERRY: No, it's a major -- it a major, major good news item.
And it's been quite some time in the working. This is a commitment by -- multilateral commitment, which Boris Johnson has announced, for $12 billion
that will be committed to protecting the Congo Basin, protecting the Amazon, protecting Indonesia forests, et cetera, the major forests of the
But, in addition to that, President Biden has put forward a bilateral commitment by the United States to work with particularly Brazil and the
Amazon. And there is a $9 billion commitment over 10 years, which the United States can be involved in.
We have been directly working with Brazil for months now. And Brazil, as you know, came in with a major announcement about ending deforestation by
2028, two years before the broader multilateral one, and also committing to the methane pledge and setting a goal by 2030 of 50 percent deployment of
So, things are happening, which is what we predicted. We said that we will come to Glasgow, and there will be the greatest increase in ambition that
we have seen to date.
AMANPOUR: Do you trust them?
KERRY: I -- it's not a question of trust. We don't get into sort of -- this is not built on trust. It's built on specific steps that people will
take, specific steps for the commitment of money, and specific steps for enforcement, which we can track.
We have the satellites. You just said it. We see what's happening there on a daily basis. And there's a new level of accountability, not just for the
Amazon, but globally, all over the world. Just the other day, you saw a front-page story in "The Washington Post" talking about the pinpointing of
methane leak in Russia.
This is now the technological capacity we have. So, you know the old saying you can run, but you can't hide? Now, if you make a commitment, we're going
to know instantaneously whether people are moving on it.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, methane is often -- sort of goes by the wayside, because everybody focuses on CO2. But methane is much more toxic than CO2.
So, I want to ask you...
KERRY: Yes, 20 to 80 times more toxic.
AMANPOUR: Right. Exactly.
So, that's a step in the right direction. But one of the major goals, obviously, is to get that curve of carbon emissions to really go down. It's
come down a bit since 2014 and since Paris, which you negotiated for the U.S.
AMANPOUR: But it's not fast enough.
AMANPOUR: And yet two issues.
Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, who is actually here, has pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2070. That is a full two decades later than
all of you major polluters are pledging.
I mean, what does that mean even, 2070?
KERRY: Well, it remains to be seen what that means, because he accompanied that with a major commitment to the deployment of renewable energy, so 450
gigawatts of renewables.
And we have actually formed a partnership with India. I have appointed a full-time person to be on the ground in India to work on this, a major -- a
senior experienced Foreign Service official. And we have the ability, I think, to be able to work with India to bring finance to the table and
bring technology to the table.
India is a developing country, genuinely developing at this point, a huge country. And there are challenges, because they don't have ready
alternatives to their energy production. So we, the developed world, must step up in order to help accelerate that.
I think India is completely open to the acceleration. I think there are plenty of countries. We have been working with Mexico, with South Africa,
with Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, with various countries around the world, Russia.
We believe countries want to do things, but can't to a certain degree. And we have to get people to stop building the current generation of new coal
plants. I mean, that erases a lot of the progress that we make.
AMANPOUR: And yet there are no promises to stop individual countries building new coal plants. To wit, China is one who you have worked on very
KERRY: Well, there's no promise yet, but I think what can happen here as we progress...
AMANPOUR: But China is not even here. I mean, the president is not here.
KERRY: Well, China -- no, but China's here.
KERRY: Their lead negotiator, a very, very experienced individual, good friend, we have worked together for 20-plus, 25 years.
And Xie Zhenhua knows the ins and outs of this issue. They're working. We have been meeting and going through various options that may or may not be
possible. So, that -- we don't know yet where we are with that.
What I will say is...
AMANPOUR: That doesn't sound very hopeful, sorry, Secretary Kerry, may or may not be possible.
KERRY: No, I'm going to tell you, look...
AMANPOUR: It's the biggest polluter in the world.
KERRY: Let me tell you where we are; 65 percent of global GDP has now committed over the last nine months to the 1.5 degrees.
AMANPOUR: Do you still think it's achievable, 1.5?
KERRY: I believe that, if people do what they have laid out as their specific plans, yes.
Is it hard? You're right, it's damn hard. It's very hard. But it is better to push for that. It's better to make that your target, better -- what we
have done -- and we have had all the major environmental modelers check our numbers and our plans.
They have come up and said, yes, if you do what you say you're going to do, you have a nearly 60 percent chance of achieving the 1.5.
KERRY: Now, the goal of Paris was well below 2. So, if we can't hit the 1.5, if we're well below 2, that may be the best. I don't know yet.
I'm betting still on the idea that we must try to do our best to hit the 1.5. And...
AMANPOUR: If you -- if you do what you say you will do. That's been the problem throughout.
KERRY: Well, no, but I -- this is a different time.
KERRY: Honestly, Christiane, this is -- I have sensed -- I have been at these meetings for years now, starting with 1992, when I was in Rio at the
AMANPOUR: I covered it.
KERRY: You covered it. And we -- that was what started this process.
KERRY: It's regrettable that it's now 26 COPs later that we're here.
But I will tell you there is something bigger, more engaged, more urgent in what is happening here than I have seen at any other COP. And I believe
we're going to come up with record levels of ambition. And different from all the past, we have private sector coming to the table in ways that we
have never seen before.
AMANPOUR: But I want to stop you there, because I know it's obviously clear about the cars. And you have told me about that, and the renewables
and the electric cars.
KERRY: ... got to start somewhere.
AMANPOUR: Yes, you do.
But what about the major fossil fuel companies who were hauled before Congress, rightly, the other day to explain why they have potentially been
misleading the American people on all of this stuff, on the...
AMANPOUR: And then you have the Republicans who say, congratulations, Chevron, congratulations, all of you, for actually digging for oil and
natural gas, while the president is telling foreign countries, the OPEC countries and those G2, to dig for oil and gas.
There's a disconnect there.
KERRY: No, there's no disconnect.
AMANPOUR: Or to produce -- OK, or to produce more fossil fuel energy.
KERRY: There's no disconnect. There's no disconnect whatsoever.
AMANPOUR: All right, well, translate the president's call...
KERRY: I will translate that. Yes, I will.
We are where we are in our economies in the global marketplace. You can't just shut it off tomorrow. You can't even shut it off in six months.
AMANPOUR: But why do you ask for more?
KERRY: But just a minute.
You can, because you need to stabilize the marketplace, bring the prices down, and empower us to be able to make this transition in an orderly and
just way. We don't want to have workers suddenly thrown out and, all of a sudden, your economies are cratering. This has to be done in a smart and
AMANPOUR: Do we have time, Mr. Secretary?
KERRY: Yes, we have time over this next decade to make this transition. You have got to begin to shut certain coal plants in various parts of the
world and transition into alternative renewable green hydrogen, whatever it's going to be, hydro, a mix of solar, wind, some gas.
And, clearly, there's an ability to be able to provide an alternative to coal-fired power plants, which are the principal problem today.
AMANPOUR: Right. So, let's go to China then.
AMANPOUR: Let's go to China about that principal problem...
AMANPOUR: ... which, as you say, they haven't yet -- some would say they just haven't -- made any pledges.
AMANPOUR: And there is a rising sort of...
KERRY: Well, China has said they're going to strictly limit coal.
We don't know what that means yet. China has said they...
AMANPOUR: I thought they said they're building more coal plants and they're strictly limiting what they're doing overseas.
KERRY: They have -- they do -- no, no, no, no.
AMANPOUR: All right, but they're building more...
KERRY: They have issued instructions...
KERRY: ... to their provinces, to the leaders in various parts of the country that they have to adhere to a certain standard.
Now, that standard, we don't think, is big enough, is strong enough. So what we're trying to do is work with China to, in a cooperative way, show
how they could in fact speed up the transition, without challenging them in any personal way, but trying to bring them on board to be part of this
effort in a significant way.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you a question?
KERRY: And they will need to transition off of coal faster, absolutely, no question about it.
AMANPOUR: There's a kind of a growing chorus -- that's my term -- of people asking whether the United States' foreign policy, described by many
as aggressive, towards China and Russia, and the president called out both China and Russia at the G20 for not being here, not coming up with the
right commitments on climate.
That's your president. He said they're not stepping up when it comes to climate.
That the foreign policy may be at odds with your desire to also cooperate and bring them to the table on these main issues.
KERRY: Well, we have been crystal clear. Climate is not a bilateral strategic tool.
AMANPOUR: But do they get that?
KERRY: Yes. I believe, and I hope they do, yes. I think that China, they certainly have said that they agree. But it is -- you know, it's undeniable
that some of the other issues have now impacted some of this relationship. But President Biden reached out. He had a telephone call with President Xi.
It was a very good call. Both leaders agreed that they wanted to move forward on climate. Both leaders agreed they wanted to meet and begin to
deal with the other issues.
So, that is the operative, you know, plan on the table, is they will meet at an appropriate time to be announced obviously by the White House. But --
AMANPOUR: Can you tell us maybe when?
KERRY: No, I have no clue when they will meet.
AMANPOUR: But that will be a big deal.
KERRY: And virtually or otherwise. And in the meantime, President Xi was quite clear about wanting to find a pathway to cooperate on the climate
issue. The climate issue is as existential to China as it is to us. It's as critical to Chinese citizens as it is to us. They want to be rid of
pollution. They want cleaner air. They want a healthier life. They want greater security.
AMANPOUR: The people might.
KERRY: So do we. Well, I believe -- no, I believe -- you know, I am convinced that knowing what we did with President Obama in those years,
with Vice President Biden, we were able to manage our differences with respect to China. And I believe the Chinese understand full well how to do
that, and I believe they also know it is critical for all of us to deal with this issue. So, I'm very hopeful.
And I know President Xi has been the person really leading China's decisions on this. He's the one who is making the decisions. And my hope is
that, yet, in the next two weeks there's room perhaps to make some progress. Who knows?
AMANPOUR: You mentioned the years of America, you know, negotiating on climate. Sometimes it's up, sometimes it's down, right?
AMANPOUR: So, President W. Bush pulled out of the Kyoto that the Clinton administration negotiated. President Bush pulled out of Paris the Obama
administration negotiated. What's convincing your fellow delegates and world leaders that you won't just pull out again, whatever is achieved here
because another Trump president.
KERRY: Well, first of all, there's no way possible that President Biden is going to pull out and --
AMANPOUR: Not President Biden, after President Biden.
KERRY: I know that, but I'm talking about the next three and a half years.
KERRY: So, you have three and a half years. And I am absolutely convinced, not because of politics or ideology, but facts, the amount of money, the
trillions of dollars that are now moving to be invested in industry, in transportation, in, you know, various production facilities, in gas, in
powering companies, in powering homes and corporations, and how we produce our energy, electricity.
90 percent of the electricity that's come online in the United States in the last few years, in the globe, as a matter of fact, in the planet, has
come from renewables. That's not reversible by any one politician. It is not reversible. When Ford Motor company and General Motors have retooled
all of their production facilities for their automobiles, that's tens of millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars of investment. That's
not going to change all of a sudden.
We're going to be on the electric track, 50 percent of vehicles in America are, by virtue, the goal the president set, with the auto industry, will be
electric. And by 2035, no more internal combustion engine cars. So, we're moving in that direction. President Biden has set a goal that by 2035, we
will have a power sector that is carbon free. That is achievable.
AMANPOUR: So, are you disappointed by your -- I'm not sure there was a senator, when you were a senator, but Joe Manchin, who said no to the most
ambitious and revolutionary part of President Biden's build back better.
KERRY: Well, I'm not going to get involved in the discussions between the White House and the Congress. I have confidence in the Congress.
Ultimately, I believe something will pass and it's up to the White House and Congress to negotiate that.
What I do believe is critical is that we, the United States, continue over these next few days here in Glasgow, and we will, to continue to raise
ambition. There will be major announcements of businesses coming to the table to create new markets. We just did a photograph with the -- what's
called the First Mover Coalition. Amazon has now joined it with DHL, with the United Airlines, with other, Apple, various participants. Big companies
that will make public commitments to the amount of products they will buy in their supply chain that are green.
KERRY: I think there's something different happening here. I can't summarize it yet. We're only in day two. But I believe the ambition will be
raised to a level we have not yet seen. You know, you have to work with what you have to work with. And we're trying to mold this thing in the best
way possible to raise ambitions sufficiently that this is different from the past.
And there's a level of accountability, Christiane, we have what's called in the arcane manner of the negotiating process, this thing called a rule
book. And the rule book are the rules by which we know what we're measuring, how to measure it, what's the marketplace? We know what's green
washing and what isn't. That, I believe, could get completed here. That would also be a big contribution and important moment.
AMANPOUR: Secretary Kerry, thank you very much.
KERRY: Good to chat, fun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And it will, of course, be up to the negotiators because the main leaders, the presidents, the prime ministers are actually leaving
today and leaving their negotiators here to hammer out the rest of these deals.
From the existential crisis of our times to the pandemic that we have endured for nearly two years, both of course have been mired in the toxic
spread of disinformation and denial. As director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins has been guiding the United States through
the COVID crisis. He recently announced that he'll step down after 12 years and three presidents.
And here he tells Walter Isaacson how grappling with vaccine resistance and conspiracy theories was one of his most difficult challenges as director.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And Dr. Francis Collins, welcome to the show.
DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, NIH DIRECTOR: Glad to be with you, Walter.
ISAACSON: After 12 years as the director of the National Institutes of Health, you did it through Obama's term and then stayed on through Donald
Trump and then for Joe Biden as we got to the last stages of this fourth wave. But then, you decided to retire from the directorship. Tell me about
making that decision.
DR. COLLINS: It was not an easy decision. You know, it took me many weeks to wrestle with it. I hope nobody thinks I just had a bad idea and said OK,
I'm done with that, but no, it was not that.
12 years is a long time, Walter. No other presidentially appointed NIH director has lasted more than about half that. So, I was kind of hitting my
shelf life. And I really felt that if I was not going to stay for an entire additional presidential term, I needed to give the president a chance to
identify a new director and get them nominated and confirmed by the Senate, which isn't always an easy process before it got much later in the term.
So, I had to really figure out what was the right timing and how to do the right thing here in terms of what's good for the institution, because I
love the NIH and I want to do everything I can to be sure it stays in the best possible place. And it was a bit of a challenge here, because COVID
has been so completely dominating of everything that NIH has been involved in, and I have been deeply into that for the last 22 months, and I didn't
want to do anything to disrupt the momentum there, which has been amazing. Science has really risen to the challenge here.
ISAACSON: One of the things you're noted for during your tenure is your humility. A trait that's not often found in government these days. And the
coronavirus, it seems like one of its side effects is to increase our humility, because it so baffles us so many times. What is it about this
coronavirus that we don't understand that you wish we understood better?
DR. COLLINS: Well, it sure has been an evolving experience of scientific humility, just when you think you have got your mind around what this virus
is capable of, another curveball comes at you. I guess the biggest curveball in the last six months has been the Delta variant with its
extremely high contagiousness, which pretty much said, we're having a different pandemic now than we did in 2020 because this virus behaves so
Yes, we were not really prepared for that. That kind of wrecked a little bit of our simpler ideas about getting full immunity, enough of the
population immunized or having had a prior infection, that the virus would be driven away. We didn't get there. Of course, that's not just because the
virus changed. We also failed, really, to be able to communicate apparently to about 60 million people that they would want this vaccine. Walter, I got
to say, that's been the most surprising and disheartening part of the last 22 months.
Science really stepped forward here, bringing together all of the bright brains from public and private sectors with resources supplied by the
government through warp speed, and came up with vaccines that are unbelievably safe and effective, better than we hardly dared to hope for.
And yet, here we are, almost a year after those approvals, where there is still substantial fraction of our society, a technologically advanced
society, or so we thought, who are resistant to taking advantage of this and who are dying every day by 1,000 or more in an unnecessary way.
ISAACSON: Well, the most surprising statistic along those lines I saw was that 70 percent to 75 percent of some parts of the NIH, people who work at
the National Institutes of Health, only 70 percent to 75 percent are vaccinated. Why is that?
DR. COLLINS: Yes, why indeed? You know, if we look at our employees, federal employees who are indirectly engaged in research or in patient
care, because we run a hospital, they're the percentages above 90 percent, but we have a whole bunch, thousands of contractors, who take care of the
grounds and the cafeterias and the maintenance of the buildings, and that's a cross section of the U.S., pretty much like any other group you might
see, and they're afflicted by the same set of concerns, much of it based on misinformation or even disinformation, that has reflected their resistance.
Now, we're going to see what happens because they also are now required to be vaccinated by December the 8th or risk losing their jobs. And I think
that probably will wake up a lot of people who have been sort of on the fence or putting it off. But there will certainly be some who are very
actively resistant for various reasons, and this could be a tough few weeks.
ISAACSON: You and I are very much in favor of these vaccines. Of course, I was even in an early trial for the vaccines and have had the booster shot,
but I kind of get why people may resist saying, the government is forcing me to get a vaccine. Do you understand that resistance?
DR. COLLINS: I do. And I really wish the mandates were not necessary because the logic behind the vaccination is so compelling. We never should
have had to do this. But when you consider that the country is at risk when such a substantial proportion of its population is not vaccinated, the
government has an interest in trying to protect its citizens going way back to 1905 and Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the Supreme Court agreed that this
is a role for the government when there is a public health risk of a major sort, and that is certainly true here. So, yes, I wish it hadn't been
necessary, but I think it was the right thing to do it.
And interestingly, Walter, I have heard from a few people this story that they were resistant to vaccination because it's sort of part of the tribe
that they're involved in, and their social circle, their bubble, everybody is like no, we have to fight this off because government is invading our
liberties and maybe they have embraced some of the conspiracy theories that are out there, but they weren't really quite sure they believed all that
stuff, but to actually go and voluntarily get vaccinated put them at some risk of maybe being seen as not quite with the group. And now, if they're
forced to do it, they can complain about it, but it's not their fault.
So, maybe that's helping a little bit here in terms of getting over the resistance. I don't want to be paternalistic about that, but I have heard
that kind of motivation from a few people.
ISAACSON: Moderna said over the weekend that it needs to reassess its data for 12 to 17-year-olds with the use of its vaccine. What are they looking
into, and when might they be able to figure it out?
DR. COLLINS: For the Moderna and the Pfizer mRNA vaccines, there have been rare reports of myocarditis or pericarditis in people who got the two
initial doses. And it seems that the most vulnerable group for this is young males between 12 and 30. Moderna is looking again to see whether
their vaccine is particularly prone to this. Nordic countries seem to think Moderna had more of this than Pfizer. I have not seen that data
And let's be clear, this is still a very rare event, maybe 1 in 5,000 in that high-risk group, and it's a reversible treatable condition with
apparently no long-term consequences. So, if you had to choose between that kind of myocarditis and getting COVID-19, you're better off to get the
vaccine. But still, I think they want to be really careful. These are, after all, data points that everybody wants to be sure are right.
ISAACSON: Do you really feel that every parent should have, say, a five- year-old vaccinated?
DR. COLLINS: I think every parent ought to be able to look at the benefits and risks and have the information they need in front of them in a
digestible way. Parents are pretty smart about this, figuring out what to do that's going to be best for their kids. I have all that data because I
have been studying it furiously ever since Pfizer submitted it, and of course, in last week's FDA meeting and this week's CDC meeting, there is a
very public discussion by experts. And I'm convinced if I had a 5-year-old son or daughter or maybe a grandchild, I would say this is something that
is worth doing.
This has got a whole lot more benefits than it does risks. The risks seem to be pretty low, basically a sore arm, maybe a little fever that first 24
hours. Other than that, we don't really see there's much of a reason to be concerned.
ISAACSON: You're a person of deep faith. Have you been surprised at how the faith communities have sometimes resisted both vaccines and mask
DR. COLLINS: Yes, Walter, this is a source of heartache. I'm an Evangelical Christian. And that seems to be the community where there has
been particular skepticism about masks and about vaccines. Much of it gets all tangled up with politics because those are also communities that tend
to be conservative and oftentimes have embraced some of the rhetoric coming from the right, which may, in some instances, really not be based on
science at all but rather based upon an effort to fight back against the other party.
I do think this is a serious situation. And I have done a bunch of podcasts with people like Rick Warren and Franklin Graham to try to get a message
out there to pastors and to members of congregations that this is serious stuff. It's not sufficient to just accept some argument about masks or
vaccines because it came from some political voice or some right-wing media. You want to know what's true here. After all, our faith is based
upon truth. If we lose that, we have lost the whole thing.
Jesus' words, John, chapter 8, verse 32, the truth will set you free. If we are slipping away from that, and I fear that the church, in many instances,
has lost that anchor, that's a really serious concern, not just about COVID but about our future in many other ways.
ISAACSON: You talk about the conflict sometimes between science and religion. But nowadays, we have an even worse conflict, it seems, which is
between science and politics. Why is politics so infected our ability to be objective when we look at science?
DR. COLLINS: Walter, I don't know. And here again, I worry about the state of our nation, that what seems to dominate every behavior that's chosen is
not what the facts are. It's like, OK, what kind of points can I score against the other people? We're so divided. We're into our tribes. And it
seems as if that's particularly malignantly present in politics.
And so, I see regularly people who are representing of the people who ought to be thinking about the people and the truth that they need to hear
choosing a direction that they must at some level know is not actually factual. And putting it forward to score political points.
ISAACSON: Be more specific. Who are you talking about?
DR. COLLINS: Well, I don't want to name names. There's plenty of people one could point to here. But just as I said about the church, we're losing
an anchor to the truth is a serious danger for our future, one could say the same about politics and about our society as a whole. If we have lost
the chance to tell the difference between somebody's opinion or somebody's most recent political statement, or somebody's feelings and place those as
if they had the same value as scientific evidence, we're in deep trouble.
ISAACSON: We're facing two epidemics. An epidemic caused by a natural virus, but also an epidemic caused by electronic viruses, the spread of
misinformation and purposeful disinformation. How do we fight that second pandemic, which actually is like a viral pandemic? People spreading things,
the lies evolve, and they become stronger.
DR. COLLINS: I don't fault the people who are confused and fearful right now about COVID-19 and whether the vaccines are safe. I don't fault the
people who have really not figured out whether climate change is real because they're barraged with all this information. I do fault the people
who are distributing that information, knowing it to be false. That is the kind of behavior that a human being should not embrace without having a
pang of some sort of sense of having crossed a moral line.
And it's not just now that we're having this sort of social disagreement. This is killing people, Walter, literally. You know, 100,000 people
estimated to have died from COVID-19 needlessly, unvaccinated, most of them because somebody gave them information that was demonstrably false that
said, you don't want this vaccine, it's dangerous. 100,000 deaths. Our culture wars are killing people.
ISAACSON: Are you disappointed that the Wuhan Institute hasn't been more forthcoming and the Chinese government hasn't been more forthcoming in
looking at the origins of this pandemic?
DR. COLLINS: I am disappointed. Because we need to know how this got started. I can tell you that none of the research we have funded at the
Wuhan Institute could possibly have led to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. But, of course, I don't know what else they were doing. We were funding a tiny
proportion of their budget.
There are people who think maybe they had actually isolated SARS-CoV-2 a few months before it all burst out, and maybe there was even a lab
accident. There's no evidence to support that at all. None. But I think it would be better if they opened their lab books and let people look at what
they were up to. So yes, I think China has really stonewalled this whole effort, and they continue to. And that's unfortunate. We need to know
exactly how this started.
ISAACSON: More than 20 years ago, you were on the cover of "Time" magazine because you helped lead the teams that sequenced the human genome. In other
words, find out exactly where our genes are coded in our DNA. That didn't actually lead to as much as we thought it would. But now, with the advent
of the use of RNA and messenger RNA, we're actually being able to make use of what you did more than 20 years ago. Tell me about what's happening now
that makes what you did in sequencing the human genome so important now?
DR. COLLINS: Well, it's involved in almost everything we're doing in medical research. And, Walter, there's a first law of technology, which is
a major scientific advance always is overestimated in the short run and underestimated in the long run. I think that's true of the human genome
project. There were people saying, this is going to transform your medical care in the next two years, and that was fanciful and there's no way that
I will say, it has transformed aspects of medical care, like cancer, for instance, where almost everyone who gets a cancer will want to know, what's
the genome sequence of the tumor cells and how could you use that in choosing therapy. It's transformed management of mysterious cases in the
newborn ICU, where you can get that genome sequence in two days and often make a diagnosis. And certainly, in the research area, it's transformed
everything we do in the laboratory.
But you're right, when it comes to RNA, which is, after all, the message that is produced from reading out a DNA sequence, that has become the
mainstay of our best protection against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases with the mRNA vaccines. That took 25 years of hard work to get
there. We just announced a few days ago a public/private partnership, the Bespoke Gene Therapy Consortium to try to see if we can accelerate the
process working with FDA and about 10 companies and see whether we can regularize the approach to those gene disorders that are rare enough that
they don't get much attention but collectively involve about 30 million people. I'm pretty excited about that. And none of that would happen if it
had not have been for the foundation provided by the Human Genome Project.
ISAACSON: As you retire, you're going to still need to make a living. Do you think your Affordable Rock 'n' Roll Act might actually be something you
could take on the road?
DR. COLLINS: Well, it might be fun do that, but I don't think I would count on that to be particularly profitable. We do have a good time. The
Affordable Rock 'n' Roll Act is all made up of scientists who have day jobs in the clinic or the laboratory, but they're all pretty amazing bunch of
musicians and we do have a good time, 10 or 12 of us, depending on who is available. And yes, I think we make some pretty good music.
And when -- you know, Walter, when you're out there with the band is really clicking and you got people, hundreds of them out dancing, it's an
experience that you don't want to pass up. We have had to pass it up for two years because of COVID. I hope we are going to be able to get back out
ISAACSON: Dr. Francis Collins, thank you so much for joining us.
DR. COLLINS: Great to talk to you. It was a fun conversation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Rock 'n' roll and the human genome.
And finally, tonight, the late Katharine Graham, the former publisher of "The Washington Post," will now be in the post with her very own postal
stamp. The Pulitzer Prize winner took the paper to the heights of American journalism and broke major stories like Watergate. Always steadfast in the
pursuit of quality news, she proved that good journalism is also very good business.
That's it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast, and across social media. Thank you for watching and good-bye from Glasgow.