WASHINGTON – John Kerry, President Biden’s global climate envoy, on Thursday warned nations that the world is “on a good track” toward achieving its goal of pivoting away from fossil fuels to avoid the most dangerous consequences of climate change.
At a virtual meeting of the world’s most polluted countries – including China, Russia and Saudi Arabia – Mr. Kerry asked ministers to outline what their governments are doing to cut emissions. greenhouse gas emissions and follow promises made at last year’s UN climate summit in Glasgow.
The meeting was the first since Glasgow to include leaders from major economies as well as small island states and other particularly vulnerable climate change countries. Although just over two months have passed since the meeting, Mr. Kerry says the change hasn’t happened fast enough.
“One thing is clear: We must all move faster this decade to accelerate the transition from coal to renewable energy,” Kerry said in a statement after the closed-door meeting.
He was more blunt at an event sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce this week.
“We are in trouble. I hope people can understand that,” Mr. Kerry said. “It’s not a problem we can’t get out of. But we are not going in the right direction.”
Countries have pledged to keep average global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels. That’s the threshold beyond which scientists say the risk of devastating sea-level rise, heatwaves, droughts and wildfires increases dramatically. The world has warmed by an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius.
Mr. Kerry noted in a statement that the world used 9% more coal last year than in 2020, and that nearly 300 gigawatts of new coal power are under construction. That comes at a time when the International Energy Agency says countries must shut down at least 870 gigawatts of coal over the next eight years to have any hope of keeping global temperatures low.
“In addition to building new factories, we need to close existing factories,” Mr. Kerry said.
Few countries have policies in place to meet their individual climate goals. The United States did not.
Biden promised to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by up to 52 percent below 2005 levels by the end of the decade. However, legislation is very important to achieve that goal stalled in Parliament.
Questions remain about a central promise of the Glasgow deal: Nations have agreed to spend this year developing new climate targets aimed at more drastically cutting their emissions.
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But there are discouraging signs. Mr. Kerry said the US would not introduce new targets. So does Australia, although it is considered a climate laggard.
On Thursday, Canada’s Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said his country would not introduce a new target. Mr. Guilbeault said that Canada had increased its ambitions ahead of the Glasgow summit, pledging to cut emissions by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels this decade.
“I’m not saying that doesn’t apply to us and we are shutting down our ability to further increase our targets,” Mr. Guilbeault said. But the government is focused on meeting the set targets, he said.
China’s President Xi Jinping hinted this week that he would not reduce emissions at the expense of other priorities such as food and energy security “to ensure the normal life of the masses.” . China is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.
At Thursday’s meeting, the countries discussed working together to cut methane, a potent greenhouse gas that enters the atmosphere from oil and gas wells, and set goals. Common goals related to electric vehicles and green energy from wind, solar or other sources.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/27/climate/john-kerry-climate-emissions.html John Kerry, US Climate Envoy, Tells Top Polluters ‘We Must All Move Faster’