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John Kerry warns top polluters are 'not on a good track' to combating climate change

John Kerry warns top polluters are 'not on a good track' to combating climate change
U.S. global climate envoy John Kerry on Thursday warned representatives from some of the world's top polluting countries that they are "not on a good track" to stemming fossil fuel use to combat climate change. File Pool Photo by John Minchillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- John Kerry on Thursday warned the world's most polluting countries that they must do more to meet goals to reduce dependence on fossil fuels to avoid severe consequences of climate change.

Kerry, U.S. President Joe Biden's global climate envoy, delivered the message during a virtual meeting in which he called on representatives from nations such as China, Russia and Saudia Arabia to outline what their governments are doing to lower greenhouse gas emissions and make good on pacts made at last year's United Nations climate summit.

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"We're in trouble. I hope everyone can understand that," Kerry said. "Not trouble we can't get out of. But we're not on a good track."

During the meeting, which was also attended by countries most impacted by the climate crisis, the global leaders discussed plans to cut methane emissions, set a collective goal to generate electricity from zero-carbon sources and speed up deployment of electric vehicles throughout the world, two senior administration officials told CNN.

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In a statement afterward, Kerry said he was "encouraged to hear the many ways countries are working to build on the progress made" during the climate summit in Glasgow.

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"One thing is clear: we all must move faster in this decade to accelerate the transition from coal to renewables. I look forward to our next meeting and to our next leaders meeting, when we can hopefully take things to the next level," he said.

During the Glasgow summit, which was widely viewed as a disappointment, representatives of nearly 200 countries made a pact that kept intact the goal of preventing global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to preindustrial levels.

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Kerry on Thursday cited a statement that the world used 9% coal in 2021 than in 2020 and that nearly 300 gigawatts of new coal power in the construction pipeline as the International Energy Agency has said countries must shut down at least 870 gigawatts of coal within the next eight years to stave off rising global temperatures.

"Far from building new plants, we need to be shutting down existing plants," he said.

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