Energy & Environment

Kerry: ‘I don’t see the evidence yet’ that nations are cutting emissions

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U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said he doesn’t think that countries are taking enough action to reduce their carbon emissions, telling The Washington Post he “[doesn’t] see the evidence yet” of international progress.

At last year’s COP26 climate summit in Scotland, participating nations agreed they would revisit national climate targets in 2022. Kerry, however, told the newspaper “I don’t see the evidence that that is happening, and I also don’t see the evidence that they are reducing [emissions] significantly enough to keep us on a track where we can achieve it. So I think we have a huge lift.” 

Kerry added that in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the international focus in the short term has been on dealing with interruptions to the energy supply rather than reducing emissions. 

The U.S., the world’s second-biggest emissions emitter, has committed to reducing emissions by half by 2030. Kerry called this pledge “strong enough,” but said, “we need to review how we’re going to get there more.”  

“I think there’s got to be some taking stock right now of what’s happened to us in terms of the Ukraine situation, the gas demand, the production levels — and we’ve got to take a hard look at it, because it’s definitely having an effect,” Kerry added. 

Kerry was more sanguine about the chances of domestic climate action in the U.S., despite the fact that the most ambitious goals to date were part of the Build Back Better legislation that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) effectively doomed in December. Kerry noted that Manchin has expressed openness to more limited climate legislation. 

“While Build Back Better, obviously, is not going to be the vehicle — because that’s been made clear by members of the Congress — something else could still be. I know that the administration is still working on that, and there is time, obviously, to be able to get something done on climate,” he said. 

Kerry has frequently said that for international targets to be met, countries like China, the world’s biggest emitter, must also do their part. “You have China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, South Africa, a group of countries that are going to have to step up,” Kerry said in December. “And we have to help them. This is not just unloaded responsibility on them.”

Tags climate policy COP26 emissions Emissions reduction Energy environment John Kerry

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