The US envoy: “We need thousands of billions, we are locating them”
“It is the biggest economic transition the world has seen since the Industrial Revolution and I am absolutely convinced that it will be good for the economy, for the air we breathe, for our children who end up in hospital for asthma since pollution and for national security, because the armed forces have indicated that the climate multiplies the risks ». John Kerry, US climate correspondent, speaks to us on the sidelines of the pre-Cop summit in Milan.
What do you expect from Cop26 in Glasgow? You repeat “Keep 1.5 alive” (a maximum increase of 1.5 degrees by 2100) but many countries have not defined the national plans promised in Paris.
“If we are more ambitious and reach a critical mass of countries that adopt plans to keep the 1.5 ° target alive, this will allow us to continue bringing more on board in the coming months. I think we will see countries that have not so far defined strong targets do so for the first time. Even if it will be less than 1.5 °, there will be a field of action that allows us to refine and increase the effort. It is a continuous battle ».
What are the countries to put pressure on?
“I don’t want to isolate anyone. Let’s hope everyone comes forward. I think the major economies in the world, and we are one of them, must take the lead. The United States is the second country in the world for emissions ».
Will you be able to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels, as the UN has asked, despite the opposition of US producers?
“I think fossil fuel subsidies are a basic challenge and problem. It has not been solved in the United States and it will have to be done. ”
Can California be a model for the world?
“California has already been a model: when it made the decision on cars (from 2035 stop on petrol and diesel cars, ed) had effects on the whole nation and even overseas. California is the sixth largest economy in the world, its decisions have an impact ».
You praised the choice of China, the first country in the world for emissions, to stop building coal plants abroad. Will you be able to keep climate negotiations separate from geostrategic tensions?
“President Biden and President Xi have had a very positive conversation over the past few weeks. Our hope is that the words of both will pave the way for greater cooperation and, perhaps, a change in the dynamics between the two countries. President Xi made a big decision recently, which was welcome, we hope that in future meetings with China we can be constructive ».
Does the Aukus partnership between Australia, the UK and the US change anything?
“Aukus is one of the longest-running alliances that the United States has had, it dates back to World War II and no country should feel it changes the balance in any way. It is the result of the relationship between Australia, the United Kingdom and the US and is defensive, not offensive ».
Congress is discussing the 3.5 trillion spending package, which includes energy conversion. And it also finds obstacles among the Democrats. Senator Joe Manchin wants to reduce it to 1,500: will environmental measures pay the price?
“We don’t know what final form this law will take. In my 28 years in the Senate I have learned not to make judgments based on the process of a measure or the proposal of a person. And I don’t expect the final law to cut out essential components of the climate agenda ”.
The transition will cost trillions and disrupt entire industrial sectors. How to avoid protests like those of the yellow vests?
“I think as people learn more about national plans to tackle climate change, they will become more aware of the positives of this transition, which will create millions of jobs in building smart grids, renewable energy, research and the development of new technologies. America itself does not have a national grid – we cannot send electricity from California to New York for example – but we can build it: it will require electricians, steel workers, truck operators and so on, for generations. “
Will the American Way of Life change? Less meat and cars?
“People have the right to make their own choices and nobody is told to change or give up the quality of life. This is not in question. If you decide to drive an electric car instead of an internal combustion one, it’s a free choice. But the auto industry has decided to switch to electric cars. Ford’s president told me they are better. I think the market will embrace this transition. People are not asked to give up driving but to contribute to the solution of the climate crisis by helping the transition ».
The pledge of $ 100 billion a year to help the countries most vulnerable to climate change has not come true. Who will pay, as Vanessa Nakate asks? What role do you imagine for indigenous peoples?
“It’s a legitimate question. The answer is that they need to be fully integrated into the decision making process. Biden has made it clear that no one is to be left behind. It has to be a just transition that takes into account everyone’s needs. About money: can be mobilized by the private sector. We need trillions, but now we are locating them. For example, the sixth bank in the United States has announced that it will invest over 4 trillion over the next 10 years in the transition. We will reach 100 billion by Glasgow. There are people who are working on the promises made. Glasgow will be proof of this ».
October 1, 2021 (change October 1, 2021 | 22:28)
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