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Interview With Noubar Afeyan Of Moderna About COVID-19 Vaccines; Britain Heads Toward Brexit Cliff Again?; President-Elect Joe Biden Picked General Lloyd Austin To Be Secretary Of Defense; World Central Kitchen Feeds The Hungry Around The World
by JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR
 Published on Monday December 14, 2020 - 6:08 AM
PANDEMIC
* Covid-19 *
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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS

Interview With Noubar Afeyan Of Moderna About COVID-19 Vaccines; Britain Heads Toward Brexit Cliff Again?; President-Elect Joe Biden Picked General Lloyd Austin To Be Secretary Of Defense; World Central Kitchen Feeds The Hungry Around The World. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 13, 2020 - 10:00 ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

[10:00:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump for bringing this back to life.

Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts right now.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA (voice-over): We'll start today with a light at the end of the COVID tunnel.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The scientists have done it.

ZAKARIA: The first vaccinations took place in the U.K. and are on the way in the U.S.

JOHNSON: They used the virus itself to perform a kind of biological jiu-jitsu.

ZAKARIA: Is this the beginning of the end? How should we navigate the coming dark winter months? I'll talk to the founder and chairman of Moderna whose vaccine is next up for authorization.

And the Brits have 18 days to reach a Brexit agreement. Otherwise they will crash out of the European Union. Can the two sides find common ground? I will talk to experts on both sides of the English Channel.

Finally, the great chef and humanitarian Jose Andres. He's provided more than 30 million meals to the hungry during this pandemic. I will ask him why he says America needs a new Cabinet position. A secretary of food.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA (on camera): But first, here's my take. The world is turning its back on globalization, free trade and multilateral institutions, or at least that is the conventional wisdom inspired by the nationalism and protectionism of Donald Trump and spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic, politicians and commentators talk of bringing home supply chains and bolstering domestic production. Even without Trump the thinking goes this shift is likely to endure.

But how then should we make sense of a seismic event that took place a few weeks ago with almost no discussion in the United States? In a virtual ceremony on November 15th, 15 Asia-Pacific countries signed the world's largest free trade pact. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The signatory states account for 30 percent of global GDP. That's larger than NAFTA or the European Union.

Many of the same nations had also signed two years earlier another big free trade pact called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which also included Canada, Mexico, Chile, and Peru. The United States of course had spearheaded the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but Donald Trump withdrew the United States and sat idly by while the rest of the Asia- Pacific barreled ahead with integration. Far from pivoting to Asia, as Barack Obama called for, America has pivoted inwards.

That, of course, is entirely in keeping with Trump's professed economic nationalism. He campaigned for the presidency vowing to address what he saw as the scandal of America's trade deficit, which to him was the greatest symbol of the country's disastrous policies. But, in fact, under Donald Trump the trade deficit has gone up and up. It is now on track to reach its highest level in 12 years.

By any measure, Trump's trade policies have failed. He promised to bring manufacturing jobs roaring back. In fact, the percentage of jobs in manufacturing has stayed roughly the same since he came into office. He claimed that foreign countries like China and Mexico would pay for his tariffs. In fact many studies show that American consumers have footed most of the bit.

He promised that China would buy many more American goods. In fact they are importing less from America than they were in 2017.

What jobs have been preserved have come at a staggering cost. According to the Peterson Institute, for every job saved in the steel industry through Trump's tariffs, U.S. businesses and consumers have had to pay $900,000 per job. Were Trump to have saved more American jobs this way, he would have bankrupted the country.

The pandemic far from making the case for onshoring actually shows it's dangerous. When COVID-19 hit, countries around the world faced severe shortages of vital items from facemasks to cotton swabs. Thanks to foreign producers, most of these demands were met within a few weeks or months.

The vaccine race is a massive global endeavor involving scientists, technicians and manufacturing facilities across the world. It would be inconceivable to develop and produce billions of vaccine doses without global supply chains.

[10:05:08] Some have suggested in the face of this pandemic that the U.S. should onshore production of key medical supplies. But how do we know which ones to prioritize? What if the next global crisis comes in the form of a non-airborne disease or a tsunami? We would have subsidized huge industries only to find that we were fighting the last war. It makes sense to maintain some strategic reserves of medical supplies.

It's also wise to ensure that the U.S. is not totally dependent for any key product on one country, especially China. But taking modest cautionary measures like these hardly spell the end of globalization.

The abject failure of Trump's trade wars does not seem to have sunk in in Washington, where Democrats and Republicans alike seem to want to continue his approach just more intelligently than he did. In a smart essay in "Foreign Affairs," Shannon O'Neill points to what the real answer may be. Quote, "Rather than too much free trade, the United States has too little. U.S. companies have preferential access to less than 10 percent of the world's consumers. Mexico and Canada, in contrast, maintain such access to over 50 percent of global markets."

The United States is now virtually the only country in the advanced industrial world following a protectionist path. Most other countries understand that the best way to raise incomes at home is to expand markets abroad, buying and selling from the rest of the world.

The United States has 4 percent of the world's population. It needs to trade with the other 96 percent if it wants to improve its citizens' lives.

Go to CNN.com/fareed for a link to my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

One hundred and eighty-nine boxes of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines are being shipped out across America from a facility in Michigan this morning. This comes after the drug company received emergency authorization on Friday. They hope to start delivering the vaccine to patients tomorrow.

Next up for consideration for emergency authorization is Moderna's vaccine, which uses similar revolutionary MRNA technology as Pfizer's. On Friday the U.S. announced it was ordering 100 million more doses of Moderna's version, doubling its original order.

To understand better the prospects for the vaccine, I spoke with Moderna's chairman and co-founder Noubar Afeyan. Afeyan has more than 100 patented inventions to his name.

Noubar Afeyan, welcome. Pleasure to have you on the show.

NOUBAR AFEYAN, CO-FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, MODERNA: Great to be here, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: It does seem astonishing the speed with which this has happened. If I think back to even 10 years ago when people would talk about vaccines, it was not uncommon to talk about taking about 10 years for a vaccine to develop. This one has developed in nine months, roughly speaking. What explains this massive ramp-up in speed?

AFEYAN: I think it's a combination of things. Part of it is technological advances. The ones that have been able to go that fast are based on a brand-new technology that's been developed over the very last decade that you mentioned.

But part of it is also the severity of the conditions under which we're developing it, which means that the attack rate of this virus is high enough that we could actually recruit and test the vaccine very quickly. That's not the case in typical vaccine trials where, while there is a threat, it's actually fairly diffused. And so you have to work hard in recruiting people in the right places to be able to see enough events. That is, infections.

And then the third is that there's been really an unprecedented coordinated effort this time around that brought together scientific community, the industrial players, government, local officials to be able to conduct some unparalleled trials, and all of that, I think, together creates the current opportunity.

I will also say that when we entered this year, none of us have heard about this virus. And so probably we didn't have enough time to think about how long this might take. We needed to go as fast as possible. And it turns out that we could go fast for all the reasons I mentioned.

ZAKARIA: Do you think Operation Warp Speed, you know, initiated by the Trump administration was crucial?

AFEYAN: Operation Warp Speed was, in fact, crucial from what we have seen and we've said that repeatedly.

[10:10:03]

The people that they appointed to the top, both based on vaccine knowledge and from the military side, the logistics distribution, and the decisiveness with which they brought all the different factors together and kept everybody focused on the mission at the hand, there is a lot of reasons why it's difficult to collaborate, and they made it relatively easy to collaborate. So I do give them credit for the decisiveness and the urgency with which they had everybody operate.

ZAKARIA: Let's talk about the science behind your vaccine. There are two -- I guess, two of them, right, which are MRNA vaccines. And I think it's, you know, it's such a breakthrough that I do want to spend a moment. Explain why this is different. I mean, generally speaking, with a vaccine you take literally a physical piece, a bit of the virus and you inject it in a person to provoke antibodies in that person to have the person fight the disease.

So what you're doing is you're taking a piece of information, it's almost like a code, a computer code, rather than having to physically biologically manufacture or tame a part of a protein. And so you've almost turned a process that was boutique biology into industrial computer science, right? AFEYAN: We absolutely have turned it into an information science. What

you can now do is introduce into cells a piece of information for the specific molecule you want to make. In our case, in the case of COVID- 19, the spike protein, that ominous looking protrusion outside of the virus that you've seen lots of images of.

It turns out that's the protein the virus uses to get into our cells and that's the protein we need to neutralize for the immune system to have effective defense for us. And then when a person gets presented the virus, then it's standing on guard.

ZAKARIA: So if you were able to take this message or this code, rather than having to create vaccines, where can this go? Can you give us -- you know, what's the most optimistic scenario? Will you be able to do an AIDS vaccine? Will you be able to deal with cancer?

AFEYAN: We have ongoing programs in cancer and, in fact, ironically, that program helped accelerate what we did for COVID. Likewise, in AIDS, we've begun to do some work in that area. HIV has a set of unique challenges, but why not?

I do think that this approach should be tried, will be tried, and hopefully will be tried without the presumption that it will take 10 years to do this because if we can move in the way we moved in this case in other cases, I think that going forward we should not resign ourselves to the notion that we have to co-exist with a significant number of pathogens causing lives to be lost.

One of the good things that come out of this trauma we're all enduring is a new way and a new attitude to defend ourselves.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you something about the nature of the science and these enterprises that you founded. You know, I think you founded 40 different companies. You're an immigrant. You've come to America from Lebanon, Canada, and you know, very originally hundreds of years ago your family came from Armenia. I noticed that other vaccines are started by Turkish immigrants in Germany. These companies are drawing on labs all over the world.

Do you worry about vaccine nationalism, about a kind of closing of borders, about national competition? Or do you think that's all rhetoric right now?

AFEYAN: I -- well, I worry about it if it was real and I would certainly counteract it as best I could because at the end of the day where one -- you know, the reason this is called pandemic is that it is affecting all of us globally. And so a response should be global, and I think that that nationalism is really more about a concern versus the current reality.

By the way, this pandemic will not go away if there are certain pockets where it's flaring and others that are not because it's going to spread again.

ZAKARIA: So we are only going to be all secure if everyone is secure?

AFEYAN: Indeed.

ZAKARIA: Noubar Afeyan, a real pleasure to have you on. Thank you, sir.

AFEYAN: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, it is looking more and more likely that the United Kingdom will not come to an agreement with the European Union. There are 18 days until they crash out of the E.U. What will that look like for Europe, for the United Kingdom, and for the world?

[10:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: In case there is no deal on Brexit, the British Royal Navy has put patrol vessels on standby to protect U.K. waters. The deadline, the end of the year is, just 18 days away. If the two sides cannot come to agreement, Britain will crash out of the European Union.

I want to find out the sentiment on both sides of the English Channel. Zanny Minton Beddoes joins me from London. She's the editor-in-chief of "The Economist." And Christine Ockrent is in Paris, she's a journalist for French Public Radio and a columnist for publications in Europe and America.

Zanny, let me start with you by asking a very simple question. This is a big deal, both for Britain and Europe, because Britain is a very large trading partner for Europe.

[10:20:08]

It is in both sides' rational interests to make some kind of a deal. Why is this falling apart? Is it because there are deep structural interests that are at odds, or is it all just a miscalculation?

ZANNY MINTON BEDDOES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE ECONOMIST: So, first of all, I think there is a little bit more of a glimmer of hope that has appeared in the last three or four hours than we had before, which is that both sides have agreed to continue talking. Today was supposed to be the absolute deadline to stop talking. They've agreed to continue. And as you know, Fareed, with the E.U., nothing is ever decided until about five minutes to midnight or possibly five minutes after midnight, and we still have 18 days to go.

So I am not ruling out that there could be a deal. But you're absolutely right. The sentiment is very grim right now. And there does seem to be a political impasse on both sides. And to kind of understand why we got there, I think it's worth going back to sort of the basics of why we're here. You know, we left, the Brits left the European Union legally on the 31st of January of this year, but we put in place a transition arrangement that was due to last for the whole of the rest of the year during which time a new trade arrangement was to be negotiated. Now those negotiations have been ongoing. The scope of that trade

arrangement has become very, very thin. It's a long way from the deeply integrated market access that we have right now, but on the table was still tariff-free and quota-free access for goods. That's the kind of best that we're now aiming for. But there are two big issues that have sort of got in the way of that. One is fish.

Fish which account for, you know, way less than 1 percent of GDP, both in France and other countries of the European Union and in Britain, and the other is something called the level playing field. And the level playing field is a requirement by the E.U. that it wants to make sure that if we, the Brits, are to have tariff and quota free access, we don't undercut the European rules whether it's on environment or social status or other things.

And so they wanted to have a -- want to have a mechanism whereby if they think we have undercut them, they can immediately put in tariffs. And the Brits, Boris Johnson in particular, thinks this is an unacceptable infringement of British sovereignty.

Now the reality is that both of those issues could be solved by compromise. But three things I think have got in the way. One is, as you say, miscalculation. I think both sides have miscalculated. The Europeans thought that the Brits would feel in the end they had to cave because the cost of crashing out is bigger for us than anyone else. But I think at the same time they misunderstood the sort of depths of feeling particularly in the Johnson government.

The second is a catastrophic loss of trust. Quite understandably the Europeans don't trust Boris Johnson because he has shown himself capable of reneging on commitments previously made. And the third is the political optics on both sides now. People are playing to their domestic audience. President Macron is playing to the fishermen and at the same time Boris John is playing to the hard Brexiters on this side of the channel.

And I think for him the reality is because the deal will be so thin even if we agreed to it, there's going to be a lot of disruption, a lot of very visible disruption in the U.K. even if there is a deal. And so there is a political calculus, I think, here amongst the Tori Party that maybe crashing out, if you're going to have disruption anyway, isn't so bad because then you could blame the Europeans.

So it's a kind of terrible, terrible indictment of state craft on both sides that we got here. But we are where we are, but we have 18 days to go, so it's not over yet.

ZAKARIA: Christine, how much of this is Boris Johnson? You know, this is a guy who was a correspondent at the European Union headquarters and used to famously write these columns ridiculing the E.U., making up facts most of the time or often. Is there a deep distrust of him personally?

CHRISTINE OCKRENT, FRENCH JOURNALIST: Well, you know, Boris Johnson is seen on the continent as a sort of Trump-like populist, albeit better educated. But the kind of guy who last year said, oh, no, the Brexit would be a catastrophe for us, and then the day before yesterday he said, wouldn't that be wonderful? We could do whatever we want. So I think the extra mind that has been agreed upon a few hours ago between Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, and the British prime minister has much to do with the positioning, the blame game.

Brussels doesn't want to give Boris the political bonus to be able to say, oh, it's because of these awful Europeans. And, of course, you know, Fareed, Brexit has really vanished from the list of E.U. priorities even if COVID, of course, makes economic hardships so much worse. And we know, just look at figures, Great Britain makes about more than half of its trade with a single market on the continent, and that's access to some 530 million consumers.

[10:25:10]

So we know, we regret it, but we know that whatever form it takes, Brexit will be much worse, unfortunately, for the British economy, for British consumers, the city of London that it will for our own economies.

Now Zanny is right. Of course, there are domestic political issues, and that's true, you know, everywhere. But Boris Johnson and his team got self-deluded they lost complete ground. They did not understand that the bloc of the 27-member states would stick together. Angela Merkel refused to take Boris on the phone a few days ago. So did Emmanuel Macron. The Brits have tried until the very end and will still keep trying to actually break that consensus.

It hasn't worked. It hasn't worked because we, on the continent, we know that the biggest asset of the European Union in economic terms, in trade terms, is that single market, and that's why we don't trust the Perfidious Albion, you know, to play fair competition rules and as has been very well explained the key issue, which we the negotiators will keep probably discussing in the coming few days, has to do with these rules.

And when we so indeed, the British government, the government of the country which brought us the rule of law, break, the very agreement on the most difficult issue having to do with the Irish order, the border between --

ZAKARIA: Christine, we're going to have to --

(CROSSTALK)

OCKRENT: And we so -- Boris Johnson just, you know, trampled upon it and said, no, no. Then they conceded and they said, oh, we will be back. So indeed --

ZAKARIA: Christine, we are going to have to leave it at that. I am so sorry to interrupt. But we are looking at this, all of this on this side of the Atlantic with dismay because it means a divided west, a Europe that will not be as unified as it perhaps once was, and should be.

Thank you. Thank you both so much.

Next, why Lloyd Austin might not be the right man to run the Pentagon.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:30:00]

ZAKARIA: Earlier this week President-elect Joe Biden picked General Lloyd Austin to be secretary of defense. If confirmed, he would be the nation's first African-American to hold that office.

But his selection is historic in another way. A law dating back to 1947 stipulates that secretaries of defense who served in the military must have seven years between their service in uniform and their role running the Pentagon.

General Austin retired just four years ago and would be only the third secretary to break that rule. The first was General George Marshall in 1950. The second was General Jim Mattis in 2017.

What's behind the rule, and should General Austin be allowed to break it?

Joining me now to discuss it is Jim Golby. He is a senior fellow at the Clements Center for National Security at UT Austin and the author of a recent New York Times op-ed on this subject.

Welcome. Let me start by saying that I think you and I will both agree the issue is not whether Lloyd Austin is a very capable man. By all accounts, he is an extremely capable man who served as a -- in -- with great distinction as the commander of CENTCOM.

The issue is this rule. So why don't you explain why, in 1947, this rule was put in place?

JIM GOLBY, SENIOR FELLOW, CLEMENTS CENTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: Thanks so much for having me on the show. In 1947 we were in the drawdown from World War II, and it was the first time that the United States was going to have a standing Army.

So Congress, in its wisdom, created two positions, the secretary of defense, a civilian; and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, a military officer. And they gave them both different roles.

We have a lot of generals in the Pentagon. But what we really need is a strong civilian leader who can carry out the value judgments and political choices that we need our political leaders to make, that can oversee the military, that can manage the politics with the president, the Congress, the other departments and agencies, and perhaps most importantly, who can defend those policies to the American people.

ZAKARIA: Now, the first exception was made for General Marshall, but most people don't remember, it was under very extraordinary circumstances.

GOLBY: It really was. It was right after the end of World War II. We were facing a massive budget crisis. We'd just found ourselves immersed in the Korean War. And it was a really tense situation with a failing secretary of defense who had just left office and a president, Harry Truman, who was really reeling and looking for some ways to bolster his administration.

And at the time Marshall was one of the most respected people in the country. And it was almost a sign of Truman's weakness that he had to turn to Marshall, not a sign of his strength.

ZAKARIA: Marshall, of course, had organized essentially; he had run the entire defense forces during World War II, and Franklin Roosevelt called him the "organizer of victory."

But even there, you point out that, despite General Marshall's towering reputation, he did have difficulty reining in generals, in particular one general, Douglas MacArthur.

GOLBY: Yeah, absolutely. George Marshall is my hero and he's one of the greatest soldier-scholars, soldier-statesman that we've had in U.S. history. But when he was in the position of secretary of defense, he just wasn't the right fit.

And as the Korean War developed, you had this emerging crisis between General MacArthur in Korea and President Truman. And Marshall really stood back. And you saw, while it wasn't necessarily favoritism, his closeness to General MacArthur made it harder for him to intervene.

And when Truman finally got...

ZAKARIA: Am I right -- am I right in remembering that MacArthur in the '30s was the -- the chief of staff and Marshall was merely a colonel at that point?

So it might have been difficult for him to overrule somebody to whom he had been in such a junior position?

GOLBY: Absolutely. And MacArthur was a towering figure, and it would have been difficult for almost anyone to to deal with him. But it was particularly difficult for George Marshall to deal with him because of the history they had, because he had been a colonel when MacArthur had been the chief of staff of the Army and because of just the long history that they had together.

And that's part of why Congress created this law in the first place, to make sure that we didn't have closeness between officers.

And just to -- to emphasize, I mean, these decisions, this lack of supervision, can have huge consequences. And MacArthur, after all, disobeyed orders, crossed the Yalu River, essentially triggering the intervention of China in the Korean War, which essentially meant that the United States could no longer dominate the -- the war and win, and then threatened to use nuclear weapons.

And then that was -- it was in those circumstances that Truman had to fire MacArthur?

GOLBY: Oh, absolutely. The consequences can indeed be severe.

ZAKARIA: You make a point in the op-ed which I think in some ways is the central point, which is that the great danger here is that, if Republicans and Democrats start picking generals to be chief of staff or secretary of defense, it fundamentally changes the nature of the military, the reputation of the military and the apolitical attitude that we expect of the military.

Elaborate on that, because that really strikes me as so central.

GOLBY: Absolutely. The -- the military is the most respected institution in society. And the main reason that's the case is because it's nonpartisan and because it's effective.

If you start to blur the lines between partisan politics and the military, it actually erodes both of those things. We could end up in a situation where our senior military officers look more like Supreme Court justices today, where we have Democratic generals and Republican generals, because you create these biases; you create this interference. And you, sort of, erode these fundamental firewalls that we had before.

Really, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs are the dash in this phrase civil-military relations. The secretary of defense comes from the civilian side and tries to make sure that society and politics are represented, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff works from the military side to try to make sure that the military side is represented.

And it's at that point where you have this -- this relationship that goes back and forth. But we have maintained that firewall. We've maintained those different roles for precisely that reason, because we want to have a nonpartisan, effective military.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure to have you on. That was really illuminating. Thank you.

GOLBY: Great, thanks so much.

ZAKARIA: Up next on "GPS," the great chef and humanitarian Jose Andres, who has a plan to make sure no Americans go hungry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: World Central Kitchen does heroic work feeding the hungry around the world. This year it has redoubled its efforts in America. One estimate says the COVID crisis will exacerbate the issue to the point where one in six Americans may now go hungry, including one in four children.

How can the world's wealthiest nation make sure all of its people have enough to eat? Jose Andres has a plan. He is the man behind World Central Kitchen's great work.

Chef, welcome. Let me ask you, why are we in this situation? This is a country that pays tens of billions of dollars to farmers,

often to, you know, to let food go to waste, and yet you have people in America starving.

JOSE ANDRES, FOUNDER, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: Well, you raise a great point. Why are we in this situation?

For a very simple reason. Because we have a Congress and a White House that they are not recognizing that today we have a hunger crisis in America. The only way you can find solutions to the issue is when you recognize you have a problem.

You mentioned about the richest country in the world. Yes, we are, but somehow we've been throwing potatoes and milk away. We've been paying more than $16 billion to farmers to throw food away, to don't produce food in a moment that Americans are going hungry.

The White House, President Trump, can do something about it today. Congress can do something about it today. This problem has an easy fix, an easy solution. For some reason, the White House and Congress, especially in the Senate right now, they don't care about Americans going hungry.

ZAKARIA: Describe what you have seen in terms of Americans who are on food stamps, even with that money, how hard it is for them to actually feed themselves?

ANDRES: Listen, all across America we have seen hunger lines. We've seen feeding America through the food banks. We'd seen churches and synagogues; we'd seen many soup kitchens, small NGOs, NGOs like ours, trying to cover the demand for food and families, cannot do this, SNAPs.

Why SNAPs, why feeding America, what we know as food stamps, is becoming such a fight between Republicans and Democrats?

We should be taking care of Americans that fall behind. It will be a great way that we increase the food stamps, amount of money that every family can receive. And let's make sure they can use it in farmer's markets, in the local diners, in the local restaurants.

SNAPs, it's an underused tool, where Congress could be feeding America by activating and improving programs that they work for the last 50 years, but in this moment they demand that Congress steps up and brings good solutions and good ideas that can keep every American fed.

ZAKARIA: You want to create a secretary for food. Explain, you know, briefly, why will that help?

ANDRES: Because food is so much more than the Department of Agriculture. Food touches very much everything. Food is health. Food is nutrition. Food is job creation. Food is immigration.

Right now, we have hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants that are the ones working on the farms to make sure that people like you and I have food on the shelves of the supermarkets so we can be feeding America.

We need to see food as an issue that touches everything. So the solution needs to be holistic, 360 degrees. If we had a secretary of food and we have a person near the White House, near the president, we see that food is a national security issue.

All of a sudden we can bring every single department across government to make sure that we stop throwing money at the problem and we start investing into real food solutions that feed America and in the process we put America at work, making sure that restaurants keep feeding, restaurants can keep employing, farmers can keep producing, they can keep getting paid.

All of a sudden, in the process of solving the problem, feeding the hungry, we restart the economy and we give dignity to the men and women that want to be part of the solution.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you, finally, Chef. You've -- you have done such great work in America, but you also have a broader perspective. You must be seeing what I'm seeing, which is that the reports that are coming in now from the poorer countries are even more worrying, that you are really -- it seems like we are on the verge of a kind of global hunger crisis triggered by this pandemic.

ANDRES: You are right. I just came back from Colombia. I was in (inaudible). I came back from Guatemala. I came back from Honduras. We need to see this not only that America has the potential to feed Americans, but America should be taking the leadership in many ways to bring the rich countries of the world to make sure that we will not have a food problem that will grow bigger during the next weeks and months.

Remember one thing. We had -- this year we had a plague in Africa. It decimated entire crops. We had droughts. We had fires. We -- we see that employees, workers cannot go to the slaughterhouses, that they are shutting down.

All of a sudden, we take food for granted. We need to make sure that the White House, America and the rich countries of the world, United Nations, finally they see food as a true agent of change to improve the lives of people. But we need to give food the respect it deserves.

Remember, if we are in the middle of the holidays, Hanukkah; I am a Christian boy, we are about to be in Christmas. Why so many senators, that they keep saying they are people of faith, people of Christianity?

I want to remind them one thing. Jesus fed the apostles, cooked for the apostles, but Jesus made sure that no person will be hungry. He multiplied breads and fishes.

Let me tell you one thing, Congress, they are not Jesus, but they do have power, if White House doesn't want to do this, to use FEMA right now and use emergency funds to make sure that hunger will never be a problem. You are telling me you are a person of faith. Stop saying it and do

something about it right now. We can end the hunger issue in America.

ZAKARIA: Powerful words. Powerful words, Chef. Thank you so much.

ANDRES: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: Now for the last look. It has been a terrible year for planet Earth, a deadly virus, economic collapse, wildfires, police brutality, terror attacks. But I'm here to give you some good news about the planet.

The 2015 Paris Climate Accord set 2 degrees Celsius as the upper limit for acceptable warming this century. But weak pledges at the time and Trump's later withdrawal made that goal look impossible. Now, all of a sudden, it seems that the Paris goals may be within reach.

That's according to a new report from Climate Action Tracker. In just the past few months, the world's largest emitter, China, vowed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

The world's second largest emitter, the U.S., elected a candidate who pledged carbon neutrality by 2050.

Along with announcements from other nations, these targets are sufficiently ambitious to keep global warming to 2.1 degrees Celsius, just above where we need to be.

Of course, setting distant targets is easier than enacting sweeping changes, but COVID has provided an opening. For example, the E.U. has agreed to an unprecedented package that includes more than half a trillion dollars for eco-friendly projects.

Joe Biden wants to top that with a $1.7 trillion green spending program. That is unlikely to happen if Republicans hold the Senate, but he has a good shot of folding green projects into his Build Back Better recovery package.

After decades of predictions that the world would reach peak oil, COVID-19, along with renewable energy and electric cars, may finally have made that a reality.

Twenty-nineteen was a peak, according to an analysis by Carbon Brief. This prediction is based on forecasts by the oil giant BP, which recently announced plans to move aggressively into clean energy.

Twenty-twenty was a year of challenges but also a year of rising to challenges. We still have a long way to go on climate change, but it seems that humanity is on its way to solving this crisis.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.

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