August 8, 2022

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Paris — Six years after the historic Paris Agreement was signed, President Biden’s special envoy for...

Paris — Six years after the historic Paris Agreement was signed, President Biden’s special envoy for climate change, John Kerry, was back in the French capital late last week as part of a whistle-stop tour to reassure European partners that the U.S. is back, and ready to lead the fight against global warming.
Speaking exclusively to CBS News, Kerry said on Friday that Europe was doing particularly well at tackling warming: “The European community has been very forward-leaning on this, and there are a good number of countries within Europe that are already almost carbon neutral and changing their energy sources, getting off coal, moving away from fossil fuels and deploying renewable [sources] and becoming quite independent on it.”
He said the U.S. was once again moving forward on reducing greenhouse gas emissions after climate issues were largely ignored during the Trump presidency.

“President Biden is really committed to this,” Kerry said. “He’s set very big goals like 2035 — our power sector will be carbon free in 2035. Detroit and GM will not be selling internal combustion engine cars.”
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry speaks ahead of the meeting of the EU-U.S. High-Level Climate Action Group at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, December 9, 2021.

Stephanie Lecocq/Pool via REUTERS

President Biden has announced an ambitious target for 50% of all new vehicle sales in the U.S. to be electric vehicles by 2030. To facilitate that, the Biden administration announced a plan on Monday to deploy a robust network of charging stations around the country — an effort that will see various government agencies consult closely with companies that make both the vehicles and the infrastructure.
Kerry said he believes the fight against climate change can bring huge new opportunities for business.
“There are now many new technologies that are being researched and developed by business for the simple reason that they believe people are going to want those clean technologies or want those different ways of doing things,” he told CBS News. “So, business understands that doing this and doing it right is good business and they can do well, even as they do good, and that’s exactly what we need to do.”
At the recent COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned: “Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe.”
Secretary Kerry echoed that sentiment in Paris last week, warning: “We’re in a race against time. We need to make the most of this next decade. Those are the 10 years that are most critical. No one country can save this; everybody has to act, and we have to do it enough to meet the scientific standard of what is required to keep 1.5 degrees [Celsius] as the limit of the rise of temperature, and to achieve zero emissions by 2050.”
That limit of a 1.5-degree rise in global average temperatures was agreed as the goal at the COP21 summit in Paris in December 2015. Scientists say that threshold is an absolute minimum to avoid catastrophic effects of climate change.
The World Meteorological Organization recently warned that our planet has already been propelled into uncharted territory, with rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and “relentless” extreme weather events. 

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But Kerry was optimistic about the future.
“We can do this,” he said. “This is an opportunity to do a lot of things that will improve our health individually and in communities, that clean our air, that will make our rivers and streams more swimmable and fishable. There are so many different benefits from this, not to mention the new technologies will bring a wave of new jobs and new disciplines. I’m very optimistic about the benefits that come from undertaking this journey.”  


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