Tuesday, October 19, 2021

US Envoy John Kerry Describes Climate as ‘Existential Test’

US climate envoy John Kerry called on China to join America in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and described the international alliance that had rebuilt Europe after World War II as a model for fighting climate change.

Kerry challenges global leaders to accelerate the action needed to curb rising temperatures and secure the world from the brink of a dangerous abyss.

“Allies, partners, many competitors, even “enemies” have to work together,” he said during a speech at London’s Kew Gardens, a UNESCO world heritage site, where scientists work to protect crops from global warming.

“The climate crisis is a test of our own time. While it can be slow, for some people, this test is considered acute and existential,” Kerry said. “We’re almost out of time.”

Kerry described the next decade as decisive and at the same time explaining that countries around the world must accelerate their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if they are to meet their commitments to limit temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels .

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While many countries have pledged to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says emission levels must be reduced by at least 40% by the end of the decade to keep temperatures under control.

Organizers of the next UN climate summit called the year-end 2021 event in Glasgow, Scotland the “last best opportunity for the world to rein in fast-paced climate change.”

The main objective of the meeting, known as COP26, is for countries to set “ambitious” targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

A coal-fired power plant in Sanhe, China (photo: illustration). China and the US are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world.

To meet the target, countries need to phase out coal use, reduce deforestation, accelerate the shift to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewable energy, conference organizers said.

China, the United States and India are the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases. That means efforts to control climate change are likely to fail unless all three take the lead in reducing emissions.

Kerry referred to the often tense relationship between the US and China, but said the future depended on their cooperation.

The two countries also need to raise their spirits in the fight against climate change, Kerry added, “It’s no mystery that China and the US have a lot of differences. But around climate, cooperation is the only way to break free from pacts of mutual destruction in today’s world,” he said.

“President Biden and President Xi have made it clear that each will cooperate in tackling this climate problem despite other differences. America needs China to successfully cut emissions. China needs America to do the same.” [mg/jm]

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