Kerry concedes 'gap' in climate commitments

 Kerry concedes 'gap' in climate commitments
© Getty Images

U.S. climate envoy John KerryJohn KerryPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Altria — Walrus detectives: Scientists recruit public to spot mammal from space MORE conceded there was likely to be a “gap” between the commitments nations make at an international climate summit in Glasgow next month and the emissions cuts that are necessary to prevent catastrophic global warming during an interview with The Associated Press.

Kerry said he was not seeking to downplay expectations for the event, and said the gap should be used to convince countries to go further. 

“We will hopefully be moving very close to that … though there will be a gap and … we’ve got to be honest about the gap, and we have to use the gap as further motivation to continue to accelerate as fast as we can,” he told the AP.


“By the time Glasgow’s over, we’re going to know who is doing their fair share, and who isn’t,” Kerry added.

The COP26 international climate summit set for November comes in the wake of a report by the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which determined steep emissions cuts are necessary to keep warming at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The former secretary of state has repeatedly said China, the world’s biggest single emitter of greenhouse gases, must step up its contributions to cuts.

In the interview, he did not single out any specific countries falling short of commitments, only saying that “It would be wonderful if everybody came and everybody hit the 1.5 degrees mark now … but some countries just don’t have the energy mix yet that allows them to do that.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently announced the country would end its construction of coal plants abroad, but its greenhouse gas emissions are not projected to peak until later this decade. China has committed to net-zero emissions by 2060, while the U.S., the second-largest emitter, has committed to achieving neutrality by 2050.

Kerry also addressed impasses on climate policy domestically. In the U.S., members of the slim Democratic congressional majority, including Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinManchin lays down demands for child tax credit: report Democrats want to bolster working women, but face tortuous choices Buttigieg says delay in climate action will cost lives amid reports of Manchin roadblock MORE (D-W.Va.), have balked at climate provisions in the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package.

The stalemate “hurts,” Kerry conceded, adding “I’m not going to pretend it’s the best way to send the best message. I mean, we need to do these things.”

The Biden administration had hoped to advertise progress though Biden's legislative agenda on climate change at the summit next month, but it appears unlikely that Congress will have taken action on the big parts of Biden's legislative agenda by then.