WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. climate envoy John Kerry tempered expectations for a United Nations climate summit sometimes billed as decisive for the future of the planet, acknowledging that next month’s meeting could end with nations far from the goal of carbon and oil emissions reductions necessary to avoid increasingly devastating levels of global warming.
But in an interview with The Associated Press, Kerry also acknowledged the efforts of the United States, the European Union, Japan and other allies ahead of the Glasgow, Scotland climate talks, to bring the world closer to the scale of the large and rapid cuts needed. in fossil fuels. Furthermore, he expressed his hope that enough nations will join in the next few years. “By the time Glasgow is over we will know who is doing their part and who is not,” he said.
Kerry also mentioned the impact that the United States Congress – where Democrats have a simple majority – would not be able to pass significant actions against climate change for the country, since the Joe Biden government aims to regain world leadership on issues climatic. “It would be as if President (Donald) Trump were withdrawing from the Paris Agreement again,” he said.
Kerry spoke to the AP on Wednesday in a conference room near his office at the State Department, where the hallways remain nearly staffed by the coronavirus pandemic. His remarks come after nine months of intense climate diplomacy by plane, by phone and via computer screen to try to close the maximum possible global commitments to action on climate before the UN summit, which begins on 31 December. October in Scotland.
The US envoy is scheduled to make his last stops in Mexico and Saudi Arabia, where he expects new last-minute commitments, before leaving for Glasgow for two weeks of talks.
Kerry’s efforts abroad, along with Joe Biden’s multi-million dollar promises of legislation and aid for cleaner burning energy at home, come after former President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Kerry rejected the suggestion that he is trying to lower expectations for the summit, which has become the deadline – but not the final one, as leaders have begun to emphasize – for countries to announce what they will do to build cleaner economies. At first, Kerry and others had called the Glasgow meeting “the last and best opportunity” to push for emissions cuts, investment in renewable energy and aid to less wealthy countries to allow them behind behind burning coal. and oil in time to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).
The planet has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius (almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit) since nations set that goal in Paris in 2015. Scientists warn that the damage is irreversible and that it is heading us to catastrophic levels if big cuts are not imposed. in emissions.
When it comes to bridging the gap between promised and needed reductions, “hopefully we will get very close to that (…) although there will be a gap (…) and we have to be honest about that gap, and we have to use it as additional motivation to keep accelerating as fast as we can, ”Kerry said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the money invested in the development of cleaner technologies, such as battery storage, will drive advances that will make it easier for nations that lag behind to catch up, he argued.
Meanwhile, a senior UN official who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity on Wednesday was less enthusiastic than world leaders about the commitments expected from Glasgow. The official left the door open that some efforts to set the international goal of reducing emissions by 45% by 2030 may not be completed by the end of the summit, noting that the Paris pact allows nations to present firmer commitments in any moment.
Associated Press journalist Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.