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Kerry on climate talks: 'I regret that my country has been absent'

Kerry on climate talks: 'I regret that my country has been absent'

U.S. climate envoy John KerryJohn KerryUN: Emission reduction plans 'fall far short' Climate change rears its ugly head, but Biden steps up to fight it Recapturing the spirit of Bretton Woods MORE told the United Nations on Monday that he regrets America’s absence from the fight against climate change during the previous administration.

“Three years ago scientists gave us a stark warning. They said we have 12 years within which to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. Now we have nine years left and I regret that my country has been absent for three of those years,” Kerry said at the United Nations Climate Adaptation Summit.

Kerry’s speech was one of his first official acts since President BidenJoe BidenBiden offers support to union organizing efforts Senate Democrats nix 'Plan B' on minimum wage hike Kavanaugh dismays conservatives by dodging pro-Trump election lawsuits MORE named him a special envoy on climate and follows the president signing an executive order to recommit the U.S. to the Paris climate accord.

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“We're proud to be back. We come back, I want you to know, with humility for the absence of the last four years, and we'll do everything in our power to make up for it,” Kerry said.

“President Biden has made fighting climate change a top priority of his administration. We have a president now, thank God, who leads, tells the truth and is seized by this issue.”

Biden has pledged to put the U.S. on a path to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. But one of his first steps will be sorting out a new goal under the Paris agreement, a so-called nationally determined contribution (NDC).

“We have already launched our work to prepare a new U.S. nationally determined contribution that meets the urgency of the challenge and we aim to announce our NDC as soon as practicable,” Kerry said, adding that the U.S. would also be upping its global financing to help other countries address climate change.