100 days to save the next 100 years from climate catastrophe, warns John Kerry

US climate envoy John Kerry has urged global leaders to come together to fight the climate crisis, warning that the world is currently in “a mutual suicide pact”.

In a speech at Kew Gardens in London this week, Mr Kerry drew comparisons to World War 2 and the unified global response in the aftermath to rebuild economies. He said world leaders need to “treat the climate crisis as the crisis it has become and mount a response that is comparable to wartime mobilisation.”

The climate crisis is here

Referencing the devastating floods in Germany, Holland and Belgium which left hundreds dead last week, Mr Kerry issued stark warnings over the impact of insufficient action. He stressed that we are already feeling the impacts and facing “the prospect of an unliveable tomorrow”.

He said, “We’re living in a world where crops no longer grow where they always did before; the chemistry of the oceans changes more and faster than ever before – where millions of people are forced to leave increasingly uninhabitable homelands – maybe 20 million a year migrating around the world.”

Despite the bleak picture, Mr Kerry believes we have a narrow but urgent window in which to act, stressing the need for all major economies to pull together to curb emissions. “Mother Nature does not pick and choose which country’s emissions are warming the planet… and what matters to our collective fate is the total of all those gases and the emissions track we are on together,” he said.

The decisive decade

Mr Kerry called upon all major economies to commit to meaningful reductions by 2030, to keep the world on track for net zero by mid-century. The IPCC has found that the world needs to cut emissions by at least 45% by 2030 to be on a credible scientific path to reach this goal.

“At or before COP26, we need to see the major economies of the world – not just be ambitious or set ambitious targets, but we got to have clear plans for how we’re going to get there over the next decade.  By 2023, we need those same economies to put out road maps for how they’re going to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” he said.

Mr Kerry also stressed the importance of engaging with China to curb emissions, a country which accounts for 28% of global emissions. China has pledged to reach peak emissions by 2030, but the International Energy Agency calculates that this would require the entire rest of the world would reach zero by 2040, knocking at least a decade off the timeline for the rest of the world to decarbonise.

Ramp up on clean energy

Mr Kerry said the biggest step of all this decade should be to scale up the development of a global clean energy economy (energy accounts for three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions). He said we should initially take the technology we already have, “put them on super steroids and deploy, deploy, deploy.”

Mr Kerry is pinning hopes on the COP26 conference in Glasgow in November, to galvanise genuine action. “Glasgow is the place, and 2021 is the time. And we can in a little more than a hundred days, save the next hundred years.”