The U.N.’s crucial climate talks next month will likely fall short of the global goal for cutting oil, coal and gas emissions. This comes after almost a year of climate diplomacy, which helped win more cuts from allies, but has not been able to push some of the biggest polluters around the world to act quickly enough.
Kerry spoke with The Associated Press to credit the United States, Japan, the European Union and Japan for their pledges over the past year to cut climate-wrecking fossil fuel emission emissions faster than they did in the last year, ahead of the talks in Glasgow (Scotland), under Kerry’s nudging. He expressed the hope that more nations will join him over the next few years. He stated, “By the end of Glasgow, we’ll know who’s doing their fair share and who’s not.”
Kerry also discussed the consequences if the U.S. Congress, with a small Democratic majority, fails to pass legislation that would significantly impact climate change by the United States. This is a Biden administration’s attempt to regain global leadership in climate action. Kerry stated that it would be like Trump pulling out from the Paris agreement again.
Kerry spoke to the AP Wednesday in a conference hall down the hall from the State Department’s office. The corridors leading up to his office are still crowded with people affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Kerry’s remarks came after nine months spent intensive climate diplomacy via plane, phone, and computer screen in order to nail down the most global climate commitments possible before the U.N. summit on climate, which opens Oct. 31st in Scotland.
Kerry makes final stops in Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Brazil as he presses for more pledges. He will then settle in Glasgow for two weeks’ talks. We still have many things to do in order to cross the transom. Kerry stated that this will determine where we end up overall.
After President Donald Trump pulled the United States from the Paris climate agreement, Kerry’s efforts abroad and President Joe Biden’s multibillion dollar promises of legislation, support for cleaner-burning fuels at home come alongside President Joe Biden’s multibillion-dollar pledges of legislation.
Kerry dismissed a suggestion that he wanted to lower the expectations for the summit. This deadline became a deadline, but not a last one, leaders have started stressing. It is for countries to declare how hard they will work in order to change their economies from polluting to cleaner burning. Kerry and others referred to the Glasgow summit early as the “last, best chance” for momentum to promote emissions cuts, investment into renewable energy, aid to less-wealthy nations to enable them to transition from dirty-burning petroleum and coal in time to limit global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.55 degrees Celsius).
Scientists warn that the damage is irreversible, and could reach catastrophic levels if emissions are not drastically reduced.
Kerry stated Wednesday that he hopes to close the gap between the countries’ promised cuts and the actual cuts. However, there will still be a gap. Kerry added that the gap must be acknowledged and used as motivation to keep moving as fast as possible.
He said that money being spent on developing cleaner technology like battery storage will spur the advancements that will allow laggard countries catch up.
Separately, a senior U.N. official briefed reporters Wednesday. He also spoke less passionately than other international leaders about the expected achievements of Glasgow. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the subject. He suggested that work may still be needed to reach the international goal to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030. Official stressed that countries can submit stronger pledges anytime under the Paris agreement.
Kerry applauded Western countries’ emission reduction efforts and plans. However, the U.N official stated that this is not enough and that more must be done by developed countries.
Kerry’s numerous trips to China and diplomatic attempts by other countries to get faster emission cuts have not succeeded. However, China recently pledged to end financing coal-fired power stations overseas. China is the largest current climate polluter due to its enthusiasm for dirty-burning coal power, both at home and abroad. China’s President Xi Jinping does not want to be seen following the U.S. lead in climate and other issues.
Kerry did not mention China as a reason Glasgow may not have been as successful as it could have been, although surprises by China are still possible.
He said, “It would have been wonderful if everyone came and everyone hit the 1.5 degree mark now.” That would be fantastic. Some countries don’t have enough energy to make that happen.
It’s the lawmaker mixture that is the problem for Biden in the United States. The multibillion-dollar climate legislation that the Obama administration needs to fulfill its U.S. commitments to cut its emissions by at least half by 2030 is being blocked by opposition from his own party.
Kerry was asked how the failure to fulfill its climate promises would affect his efforts to rally climate action overseas.
“I don’t pretend that it’s the best way of sending the best message. He said that he meant, “We need to do these things.”
Kerry said he was hopeful that Congress would take action. He said, “I don’t know how it will look…or what piece of legislation it will be in, but I believe that we’re going to act responsibly at home.”