John Kerry calls for ‘decade of action’ on climate change

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, emphasised the importance of addressing the environmental crisis in a speech at the EU headquarters in Brussels with this decade being viewed as the most pivotal.

Following a turbulent relationship with Europe during former president Donald Trump’s reign, Mr. Kerry is in the continent to speak with EU climate chief Frans Timmermans with the aim of reshaping the global efforts to tackle climate change. He has also visited the UK and is due in Paris to continue urging greater cooperation.

Mr. Kerry urged how important this November’s climate meeting in Glasgow will be, hailing it as the ‘last, best opportunity the world’ has if it is to win the fight against rising temperatures, increased sea levels and the destruction of ecosystems.

In his speech, Mr. Kerry, said: “This is the moment. Glasgow is the last, best opportunity that we have and the best hope that the world will come together and build on Paris… scientists tell us this decade, 2020 to 2030, must be the decade of action.”

Signed in 2015, the Paris Agreement has almost 200 countries committed to reversing the effects of global warming in what was seen as the biggest statement by the world at the time. However, despite progress, there is much work that needs to be done, with many countries not enforcing policies or merely just using it as a more of a ‘tick box’ approach.

One of the first actions President Joe Biden did following his inauguration was re-signing the U.S. back up to the deal after Trump’s decision to withdraw.

Recently, China announced its five-year plan which many believe will see its emissions rise while emerging economies such as India and Brazil are under immense pressure to address their emissions issues. What is clear, is that this will require a global, collaborative effort to make this a success.

The UK has also come under criticism, particularly from Mr. Kerry, for its plans to open a major new coal mine in Cumbria. In a meeting with ministers, he described coal as the “dirtiest fuel in the world” and has “no future” if countries are to cut emissions.

Making positive steps forward to address emissions, the EU has already upgraded its pledge to cut net greenhouse gases by 55% by 2030.

The U.S. is due to announce its own pledge in April, while President Joe Biden will also host a leader’s summit on the crisis.

As the world’s largest economy, many will look towards the U.S. as a leader in the fight against climate change. Its influence on the rest of the world will likely see them follow suit and introduce greater environmental action. Its pledge, could be viewed as a seismic shift to change the attitudes towards climate change and could put the world back on track to meet targets, including Sustainable Development Goal 13 (Climate Action) in the process.