World Is Falling Behind in Climate Battle, Kerry Warns
Environmental ministers from two dozen nations meet Thursday
Too many coal power plants on the drawing board, Kerry says
U.S. climate chief John Kerry is set to warn roughly two dozen nations Thursday that the world isn’t moving fast enough to arrest global warming, as countries burn more coal and clean energy legislation falters in Congress.
“We’re not in a good track right now,” Kerry said in an interview for an episode “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations” set to be broadcast on Feb. 16. “The world is not serious enough about reducing our emissions fast enough.”
Kerry, President Joe Biden’s special envoy for climate, said he would deliver that assessment during a virtual meeting on Thursday of fellow environmental ministers from countries responsible for 80% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. “I will be raising the subject that we are behind,” Kerry added. …
“There’s about 300 gigawatts of new coal construction coming online at a time where the International Energy Agency says you’ve got to reduce coal plants by 870 gigawatts,” he said. “The imbalance of that is dangerous for everybody and is at the heart of what we really have to tackle now.”
Kerry, who helped broker the landmark 2015 Paris agreement and a follow-on pact at last year’s United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, linked the climate and coronavirus crises, saying in both cases the consequences of inaction are clear and costly.
“When 99% of the people dying are unvaccinated, and 97% of the people going to the hospital are unvaccinated, you get a message from that,” Kerry said. “It’s about the same thing here. We’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars cleaning up the mess after a storm that we might have been better off preventing in the first place.”
In Glasgow, part of Kerry’s mission was assuring other nations the U.S. would follow through on its pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by the end of the decade, despite past retreats from the climate fight. Now, more than two months later, U.S. credibility on the issue remains at stake, with Biden’s climate-and-spending bill stalled in the Senate.