China must reduce emissions sooner if the planet wants to avoid climate “chaos,” U.S. climate envoy John Kerry told the Financial Times he wanted to talk to Beijing about a possible imposition on the carbon frontier.
Limiting global warming to 1.5C will be a “pipe dream” if China waits until 2030 for the peak of its emissions, he said in an interview following a major political speech in London on Tuesday. “We’re going to deal with the reality here, it’s the basic truth we’re talking about,” he said.
Kerry, who has traveled the world to promote President Joe Biden’s climate agenda, said in his speech to China that it would be “impossible” to limit heating to 1.5C less than the largest emitter. of the planet would change its goals. The 1.5C target is enshrined in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
Cooperation between the United States and China on climate was “the only way to free itself from the world’s current suicide pact,” he told his audience at the city’s Kew Gardens. Kerry will invite countries to further reduce emissions at a meeting of G20 environment ministers held in Naples, Italy, on Thursday.
With US-China relations at a low level, cooperation on climate issues is one of the few areas where the two align in general, making Kerry’s observations unusual.
The carbon tax, a policy that is gaining traction among Senate Democrats in Washington, is a problem that could divide the United States and China.
After the EU released its proposal for a carbon border adjustment mechanism last week – which would impose a tax on imports of steel, cement and fertilizers from countries without carbon tariffs – i The United States will consider whether to follow suit.
“We have talked a lot with France, the Netherlands and the EU very closely,” Kerry said, referring to the mechanism for adjusting coal borders.
“We agreed to consult – we’re not saying we support putting a definitive one in place,” he added. “It’s something I really want to talk about with China and other countries.”
Addressing an audience gathered at a suffocating conservatory during a heat wave in London, Kerry joked, “Even if we came here to talk about the greenhouse effect, we didn’t mean to put it in the greenhouse.”
China, which accounts for 28 percent of global annual emissions, has pledged to cut emissions before 2030, without specifying when they could start to decline, or how much. The United States is the world’s largest cumulative issuer.
However, if Beijing does not emit emission peaks until 2030, Kerry said, then the rest of the world should reach zero emissions by 2040, a decade earlier than expected. The construction of coal-fired power plants in China was “restless,” he added.
The former US secretary of state also called for a “war mobilization” of resources to fight the climate crisis, saying it was “a massive opportunity to rebuild our economies after a historic pandemic”.
The United States has withdrawn from the Paris climate deal under President Donald Trump, but met again earlier this year after Biden took his place.
Ahead of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in November, the United States is under pressure to increase its contributions to climate finance, to help developing countries deal with the impact of climate change.
Kerry said the United States should do more on climate finance, letting more funds be available soon.
“I spoke with President Biden, he is completely on board,” he said. “Try to understand how.”
Kerry added: “We are still the richest country in the world and we cannot do less than a fundamental level of acceptance and responsibility.”
The Biden administration has struggled to get its climate policies through the U.S. Congress, leaving it unclear how America will be able to meet its emissions reduction goal of at least 50 percent by 2030 .
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