John Kerry: World leaders must step up efforts to avoid worst impacts of climate crisis | Climate change
The world still has a chance to avoid the worst impacts of climate degradation, but only if governments make firmer commitments in the coming months to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the US envoy said. climate change.
John Kerry, appointed by Joe Biden to lead US international efforts to tackle the crisis, urged all major economies to come up with new emission reduction plans ahead of the UN Cop26 climate talks to Glasgow in November.
âThe climate crisis is the test of our time, and while it may play out in slow motion for some, this test is as acute and existential as the previous ones. Time is running out, “he said.
He called Cop26 a “pivotal moment” and 2021 “a watershed year” as the world faces the climate crisis and rapidly cuts emissions in the 2020s to have any chance of a secure future.
Speaking as floods devastated parts of Europe and heat waves and wildfires swept across North America, Kerry drew a parallel between the ruins of Europe after WWII world and the ravages of the climate crisis.
âThe world order that exists today was not born on a whim. It was built by leaders and nations determined to ensure that never again – ever again – we approach the brink of the abyss, âhe said.
Kerry said his first memory, aged four, was of the crumbling skeleton of a burnt down building in Europe, where he was taken by his mother, who had fled the Nazis. “This trip has always given me the fundamental confidence that we can solve humanity’s greatest threats together.”
Staying within 1.5 Â° C of global warming, the ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, was still possible, he insisted.
âThere is still time to put a more secure future at 1.5 Â° C within reach. But only if every major economy commits to meaningful absolute reductions in emissions by 2030. This is the only way to put the world on a credible path to global net zero by mid-century, âhe said. he declared.
The Paris agreement targets an upper limit for keeping global temperature rises well below 2 Â° C above pre-industrial levels, with an ambitious lower limit of 1.5 Â° C.
Kerry made it clear that the Cop26 summit must aim for the lower threshold and warned that the government’s current emission reduction commitments would lead to increases of 2.5 Â° C or 3 Â° C.
âWe are already seeing dramatic consequences with 1.2 Â° C of warming. To consider doubling that is to invite disaster, âhe said.
Kerry used her landmark address at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, with just over 100 days before Cop26, to launch a passionate plea for a unified global effort. âWe cannot afford a world so divided in its response to climate change when the evidence for compelling action is so strong. “
He singled out China, the world’s largest emitter and second-largest economy, which has yet to submit a national emissions reduction plan to the UN before 2030. âIt is imperative that we and China, and the rest of the world, let’s pull in the same direction on this critical effort, âhe said.
Kerry told the Guardian in an interview after his speech that he hoped China would realize the need to act quickly. âWhen China set targets before, it exceeded them, so it’s very encouraging,â he said.
But he made it clear that he had other countries on his sights as well. He said the United States was working with “allies, partners, competitors and even adversaries too aware that some of the things happening today threaten to erase the very progress that many are struggling to make.”
UN climate summits are held by consensus so that recalcitrant countries can thwart a deal. For Cop26 to be a success, countries like Russia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia will have to at least nod – Kerry’s remarks will be seen as warning them not to disrupt the process.
Climate experts and activists told The Guardian that the United States continues to lag behind in funding poor countries, to help them reduce their emissions and cope with the impacts of extreme weather conditions. Rich countries pledged a decade ago to provide at least $ 100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020, a pledge that has not been kept.
“The United States is not doing its part – it is the only country to keep the $ 100 billion pledge,” said John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK. âIf the United States does not put its hand in its pocket and make up for the shortfall, Glasgow will be in danger. “
Kerry told the Guardian in response that the Biden administration was “working hard” to find more financial aid for poor countries. âIt is very important that the United States provide funding. Our internal process on this is not yet complete.
He added: âWe are very aware of the sensitivities around this. The United States obviously plays a key role, and our absence for the past four years [from climate action] reinforces this sense of responsibility and the imperative to find a way.
Ed Miliband, the shadow secretary, who was present at the speech – which no government minister attended – said Kerry had shown the United States was determined to lead the way on climate action. “He has made it clear that he is focusing on 1.5C – and he is absolutely right, it is ambitious but essential,” he said.
Kerry also called on governments to invest in clean energy, harboring the prospect of a clean energy boom worth $ 4 billion a year by 2030, and said new technologies such that the capture and storage of hydrogen and carbon would also be necessary.