Special envoy Kerry says 1.5C target still ‘doable’ but will be ‘very difficult’
US climate envoy John Kerry has said he is not willing to give up on the goal of limiting rising temperatures to 1.5C – although he conceded achieving this target will be “very difficult”.
Almost 200 countries from across the world signed up to the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C from pre-industrial levels, with this a key part of the Paris Agreement, signed in 2015.
But in March this year, experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said there needs to be drastic cuts to greenhouse gas emissions if this is to be achieved.
I think a lot of activists and a lot of other people aren’t willing to give in, because every tenth of a degree above that is catastrophe somewhere for many people
Professor Peter Thorne said the report they produced was “pretty clear” that “almost regardless of emissions scenarios” the world would reach 1.5C in the first half of the next decade.
He added that the “real question” was now whether warming would “stabilise at or around 1.5C or whether we blast right through 1.5C, crash through 2C and keep going”.
However, Mr Kerry, speaking ahead of a new series of lectures in Edinburgh focusing on the climate crisis, said he was “not willing to give in” on the goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5C yet.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think a lot of activists and a lot of other people aren’t willing to give in, because every tenth of a degree above that is catastrophe somewhere for many people and it will cost in the trillions of dollars for each of those escalations.”
“So prudent governance, smart governance, and thoughtful governance suggests you need to take the steps now.”
The whole point is 1.5 is not actually completely out of reach, it is very difficult
Mr Kerry went on to insist limiting warming to 1.5C was “doable”, although he conceded it would be “very difficult” – with this partly the result of a lack of action by countries around the world.
The US special presidential envoy for climate said: “It is doable. The whole point is 1.5 is not actually completely out of reach, it is very difficult.
“It has been made difficult because we keep delaying and procrastinating and running into barriers of false information.”
However, he insisted that the US would not be “putting pressure on China” to act, instead saying he was looking to find a way for the countries to work together.
“China would react very negatively to the United States trying to say ‘do this, do that’,” Mr Kerry stated.
“What we’re trying to do is find the places where we can co-operate with China.
“China is doing more than any other nation in the world in terms of the deployment of renewables, in fact they have deployed more renewables than all the rest of the world put together, but it has other challenges too, in terms of its economy and so we need to work together.”
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