Brussels (Brussels Morning) US Envoy for Climate John Kerry is in Brussels today discussing preparations for the COP26 UN climate conference with his EU counterpart panelists. His visit is the outcome of US President Joe Biden’s decision to return to the global effort to tackle climate change and regenerated plans to align US-EU views on how to deal with the climate crisis.
“Common sense dictates this is the moment and Glasgow is the best opportunity that we have for the world to build on Paris”, Kerry declared.
Shortly after becoming President, Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement, in order to get US environmental pledges back on track, a move Kerry described at a Berlaymont press briefing today as “one of the most important issues that his administration intends to deal with”.
Kerry is meeting his EU colleague Frans Timmermans, the Commissioner in charge of the European Green Deal, and, at the invitation of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, will also attend the weekly meeting of the Commissioners for a discussion on transatlantic climate action.
“Looking forward to receiving my counterpart and friend John Kerry to discuss our goals for the COP26. The EU has an ambitious target to be climate neutral by 2050. We have much to discuss now that the U.S. has signed up to the Paris Agreement again”,Timmermans stated prior to Kerry’s arrival.
US climate pledges
Kerry welcomed the opportunity of “renewing conversations with our friends in Europe” at a time when the entire world is facing “an extraordinary crisis because the science is screaming at us and the evidence grows by the year”.
On a more positive note, the former US Secretary of State, acknowledging that the world is going through a climate crisis, observed that this is “also a moment of great opportunity since the industrial revolution, an opportunity to build better”.
“We are living an extraordinary moment economically – new products and technologies – those are the solutions for the crisis that we face”, Kerry asserted.
On what is a part symbolic, part diplomatic mission, Kerry, in the UK yesterday, described coal as the “dirtiest fuel in the world” and urged action by the biggest polluters to rapidly cut emissions. In his remarks, Kerry observed that the 20 top polluting countries are responsible for 81% of the planet’s emissions, as he urged the UK and other large producers to prioritise decarbonisation, according to a report in the Independent.
The EU is trying to set the example to the rest of the world by becoming a leader in the struggle against climate change. The Commission has pledged to reach climate neutrality by mid-century as part of its European Green Deal action plan and recently tabled an adaptation strategy to deal with the existing consequences of the climate crisis. However, the Biden administration has yet to announce a new national 2030 target for cutting US fossil fuel emissions.
According to scientific experts, global efforts to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius or ideally 1.5 degrees Celsius, as agreed in the Paris Agreement, would face a struggle without the contribution of US, which is the world’s second-biggest carbon emitter after China.
Scientists maintain that time is running out to achieve that goal given that the world has already warmed 1.2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times.