US envoy says climate summit can generate “huge progress”
US climate envoy John Kerry said on Saturday he believes “huge progress” can be made in the upcoming UN climate talks in Scotland, but more governments need to make commitments concrete actions in the next 30 days.
Kerry attended a preparatory meeting in Milan, Italy, where delegates from around the world sought to identify where progress can be made ahead of the start of the United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow on October 31.
12-day summit aims to push for more ambitious commitments to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) with the goal of keeping it at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial levels. The event is also focused on mobilizing funding and protecting vulnerable communities and natural habitats.
“At the end of the day folks, as we are here today, we believe we can make huge strides in Glasgow, moving quickly towards the new goals that science tells us we need to achieve,” Kerry said. This means achieving a 45% reduction in carbon emissions over the next 10 years.
“This is the defining decade,” said Kerry.
Kerry, a former US senator and secretary of state, said countries accounting for 55% of the world’s gross domestic product – Britain, Canada, Japan, the United States and the 27 members of the European Union – have submitted plans that have achieved the 1.5 degree target by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
But the US diplomat also noted that the 89 new national submissions before the summit would reduce emissions by only 12%, and that the sum of the 191 submissions as currently written would increase emissions by 2030 by 16%.
Kerry declined to select a country, but said there are ways to cut emissions that aren’t that expensive, including organizing power grids and making transmissions more efficient.
China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and the United States is the second. Kerry said President Biden had had “constructive” talks on the subject with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Kerry also highlighted the Indian leader’s commitments to install 450 gigawatts of renewable energy over the next decade.
“Glasgow, my friends, is around the corner. This is the starting line for the race of centuries and the race of this decade, ”he said. “All countries have to sprint and unite to understand that we are all in the same boat.”
Kerry added: “This is the test of collective multilateralism at the highest level that I have seen in my public career.”
EU Climate Action Commissioner Frans Timmermans separately highlighted the importance of meeting the annual funding commitment of $ 100 billion to help vulnerable countries tackle climate change in the period 2020-25 , as asked by the young activists who gathered earlier in Milan.
Timmermans said funding needs going forward would be much higher than this amount and government funding alone would not be able to cover the expected price, which is in the trillions.
Earth has already experienced a 1 degree Celsius change in temperature and unpredictable weather conditions that have destroyed crops and killed livelihoods around the world, Timmermans said.
“So there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that we are fighting for the survival of mankind, and that the climate crisis and looming ecocide are the greatest threat facing mankind,” said Timmermans. “We have to change, and we have to change drastically and we have to change quickly. It’s gonna be damn hard. This is the bad news.
Alok Sharma, UK President of COP26, said: [the] $ 100 billion is absolutely a matter of trust. He also said that the presence of young delegates and activists, including Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate, before the preparatory meetings for the climate summit had energized the process.
“As we move forward in the coming weeks and in the COP, we must always keep the voice of young people at the forefront in our minds and reflect on what their response would be to the results we achieve,” said Sharma.