‘We have to fight back’: John Kerry calls on scientists to lead fight against climate denial – Warns world is ‘right now crossing the long-awaiting tipping point’
By Laurie Goering
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Widespread mistrust of science and disputes over basic facts, tied to growing political polarisation and disinformation campaigns, are undermining efforts to tackle climate change globally, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry warned.
During a virtual summit organised by the Nobel Foundation and major science academies this week, Kerry said building greater public understanding and agreement on the world’s “existential” challenges was crucial to addressing them.
“We have to establish a baseline of truth or we can’t build consensus in a democracy,” he said.
“Paid-for denial” about climate change by big polluters and political disregard by some governments of scientific warnings about COVID-19 risks are “costing us enormously”, he added.
Kerry said achieving climate goals fast enough amounted to “a moonshot on steroids” – and called on scientists to help communicate to the public the urgent need for swift action.
“Scientists want to avoid the fray – but we are in a war against denial,” he said. “I think we have to fight back, and I think scientists have to be at the front of that fight.”
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, global emissions from fossil fuel use are still on an upward trajectory, even as scientists say they need to fall by half within just nine years to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.
The rise in emissions is happening even though renewables like solar are now the cheapest form of new energy in two-thirds of the world – and likely to be the cheapest almost everywhere within five years, said former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
He believes the world is “right now crossing the long-awaiting tipping point” toward greater action on climate change, as social movements, innovation and falling costs help drive more net-zero emissions promises and accelerate green measures.
“We have the solutions we need, and we are gaining the political will to implement them,” he said.
(Reporting by Laurie Goering @lauriegoering; editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate)