Ahead of Climate Conference, Kerry Says Stakes Could Not Be Higher

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry spoke in London Thursday ahead of next week’s climate summit in Glasgow, saying that addressing the climate crisis is the only choice, and the cost of not doing so is far greater than the cost of taking action.

Kerry said the effects of climate change are being felt now. He said, “The planet is already at its hottest and least stable point in 125,000 years and people are dying because of that.” He said some of the impact is already irreversible.

“Is all the world fully aligned with what science says we must do to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis?” he asked.  “In two words: not yet. But more countries than ever before are stepping up.”

The 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow opens Sunday. Many environmental activists, policymakers and scientists say the meeting is crucial for securing concrete commitments to the targets set in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

The accord aims to reduce carbon emissions to hold down the rise in global temperatures, while helping countries adapt to the changing climate.

Kerry, speaking at the London School of Economics, stressed that all the science and mathematics shows the cost of sitting idle far outstrips the cost of taking action. He cited numerous studies showing the marketplace opportunities of a “green’ economy.  

But he said there is still a gap, and most of the responsibility for closing that gap lies with the top 20 economies of the world, “all of whom are responsible for 80 percent of all the emissions.”

Kerry said to prevent a climate catastrophe, scientists say the world must cut its global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45 percent by 2030, in order to get to net zero by 2050. He said, “We head to Glasgow in that context, and I head to Glasgow, an optimist.”

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.

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