John Kerry gives a speech at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London on July 20, 2021.
TOLGA AKMEN | AFP | Getty Images
The US climate ambassador John Kerry issued a strong warning on Tuesday, claiming that the suffering caused by the Covid-19 pandemic would “increase many times over in a world that does not deal with the climate crisis and ultimately does not stop it”. . ”
Speaking in London, Kerry, who will be attending a G20 ministerial meeting in Italy on Thursday on the environment, climate and energy, attempted to highlight the scale of the challenge facing the planet.
“The climate crisis, my friends, is the test of our time,” he said. “And while some may still believe that it is in slow motion, no, this test is now as acute and as existential as any previous one.”
Former Foreign Secretary Kerry also stressed the need for geopolitical cooperation, admitting that “no country and no continent can solve the climate crisis on its own”.
Regarding China, Kerry noted that “a fundamental building block” of its growth had emerged from “an incredible fossil fuel consumption” and urged it to step up in reducing emissions.
In a remotely delivered speech to the United Nations General Assembly last September, Chinese President Xi Jinping said said his country is aiming for peak carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060. For his part, Kerry said China had to do more.
“As a large country, a business leader and now the biggest driver of climate change, China can absolutely contribute to making the world a success by peaking early in this critical decade from 2020 to 2030 and starting to reduce emissions,” he added .
“The truth is that there is no alternative, because without a sufficient reduction from China along with the rest of us, the 1.5-degree target is virtually impossible.”
The target cited by Kerry relates to the Paris Agreement of 2015, which aims to “limit global warming to well below 2, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels”.
Later this year, the world’s heads of state and government will meet for the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. It is viewed as a pivotal event that many hope will serve as a catalyst for governments to step up their climate ambitions to meet the goals set in the Paris Agreement.
“Glasgow is the place, 2021 is the time and we can save the next 100 years in just over 100 days,” said Kerry.
While there is no doubt a sense of urgency at COP26, the reality on the ground shows just how challenging the challenge will be to meet climate-related goals in the years to come.
On the same day that Kerry delivered his speech, the International Energy Agency said only a small fraction of government recovery spending in response to the Covid-19 pandemic Clean energy measures had been assigned.
The IEA’s analysis finds that by the second quarter of this year, the world’s governments had allocated around $ 380 billion for “energy-related sustainable recreation.” That equates to about 2% of recovery spending, it said.
In a statement released with its analysis, the IEA explained how much work is needed to meet the climate-related goals.
“The sums of money, both public and private, that are being mobilized worldwide through economic stimulus programs are far behind what is required to achieve the international climate goals,” it said.
Indeed, the Paris-based organization predicts that carbon dioxide emissions will hit record levels in 2023 with no “clear peak in sight”.