Former Secretary of State John Kerry discusses strategies for overcoming obstacles in addressing the climate crisis

Former Secretary of State John Kerry understands that battling the climate crisis is an uphill battle— but that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up the fight.

“Every analysis of finance of the transition to clean energy says we need something like 2.5 to 4.5 trillion dollars every year for the next three years,” said Kerry during his TIME Earth Award acceptance speech, after being presented the honor by someone. “No government can do that and no government will do that.”

Though the funding needed to tackle the climate crisis far outpaces what governments are currently willing to give, Kerry believes that the climate movement needs a united front. “We have to be able to communicate effectively and find a way to break through,” said Kerry, who was named as the first U.S. Presidential climate envoy in 2021.

“Every single person can do something, and if every single person chooses to do what needs to be done, then you build the current that sweeps down … you can build a current that will sweep down the mightiest walls of resistance and oppression.”

Steyer, a billionaire philanthropist and the co-founder of Galvanize Climate Solutions, heaped praise on Kerry’s achievements and his continued efforts. “Without him, no Paris Accord. Without him no breakthrough in Abu Dhabi last year,” Steyer said. “When the history of climate is written, John is going to be recognized as the diplomat and strategist who galvanized the nations of the world to respond. And he is very far from stopping and looking back.”

TIME Earth Awards was presented by Galvanize Climate Solutions, Amazon, Deloitte, Delta Air Lines.