China must cut emissions to avoid climate “chaos”, warns US envoy Kerry
China must cut emissions sooner if the planet is to avoid “climate chaos,” warned US climate envoy John Kerry, telling the Financial Times he wanted to talk to Beijing about a possible border carbon tax .
Limiting global warming to 1.5 ° C will be a “pipe dream” if China waits until 2030 for its peak emissions, he said in an interview after a major political speech in London on Tuesday. “We have to face the reality here, this is the basic truth that we are talking about,” he said.
Kerry, who has traveled the world to promote President Joe Biden’s climate agenda, in his distinguished speech said China would be “impossible” to limit warming to 1.5 ° C unless the most the planet’s big emitter does change its goals. The 1.5 ° C target is enshrined in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
The US-China climate cooperation was “the only way to break free from the current mutual suicide pact in the world,” he told his audience at the city’s Kew Gardens. Kerry will call on countries to further reduce their emissions at the G20 environment ministers meeting held in Naples, Italy on Thursday.
With US-China relations at an all-time low, cooperation on climate issues is one of the few areas where the two largely align, which makes Kerry’s pointed remarks unusual.
The border carbon tax, a policy that is gaining traction among Senate Democrats in Washington, is an issue that could divide the United States and China.
After the EU released its proposal for a carbon border adjustment mechanism – which would impose a tax on steel, cement and fertilizer imports from countries without carbon pricing – the EU released its proposal for a carbon border adjustment mechanism last week. United are considering whether or not to follow.
“We have had a very close discussion with France, the Netherlands and the EU,” said Kerry, referring to the carbon border adjustment mechanism.
“We agreed to consult – we did not say that we supported the final implementation of a project,” he added. “This is something I really want to talk to China and other countries about.”
Addressing an audience gathered on a sweltering veranda during a heat wave in London, Kerry joked: “Although we came here to talk about the greenhouse effect, we didn’t want to put you in a greenhouse.”
China, which accounts for 28% of annual global emissions, has pledged to peak in emissions before 2030, without specifying when or by how much they could start to decline. The United States is the largest cumulative emitter in the world.
However, if Beijing does not reach a peak in emissions by 2030, Kerry said, then the rest of the world is expected to reach zero emissions by 2040, a decade earlier than expected. China’s construction of coal-fired power plants was “disturbing,” he added.
The former US secretary of state also called for a “wartime mobilization” of resources to tackle the climate crisis, saying it was “a massive opportunity to rebuild our economies in the aftermath of a historic pandemic ”.
The United States withdrew from the Paris climate agreement under President Donald Trump, but joined it earlier this year after Biden took office.
Ahead of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in November, the United States came under pressure to increase its contributions to climate finance, to help developing countries cope with the impact of climate change.
Kerry said the United States should do more on climate finance, hinting that more funds will be available soon.
“I have spoken to President Biden, he completely agrees,” he said. “He’s trying to figure out how.
Kerry added: “We are still the richest country in the world and we cannot do less than a totally fundamental and basic level of acceptance and responsibility.”
The Biden administration has struggled to get its climate policies passed through the US Congress, unsure of how America will be able to meet its goal of cutting emissions by at least 50% by 2030.
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