John Kerry says green energy transition isn’t happening fast enough: ‘Everything has to accelerate’

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry warned Thursday that the global transition to green energy isn’t taking place fast enough.

Nations around the world need to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to green energy by “vast amounts” in order to stave off the potential future human and financial impacts of climate change, Kerry said during an event hosted by the Washington Post. The top Biden administration official particularly noted renewable sources and electric vehicles must be deployed at a significantly higher clip than they currently are.

“We can’t run around and do one bespoke deal here, another bespoke deal there — it just isn’t going to be fast enough,” Kerry remarked during the event. “So, everything has to accelerate and by vast amounts.”

“We have to be deploying renewables six times faster than we are today. We have to be deploying electric vehicles 20 times faster than we are today if you’re going to keep the Earth’s temperatures at 1.5 degrees of increase,” he added. “Why is that important? Because every tenth of degree above 1.5 takes you into what scientists will say is really dangerous, uncharted territory which is far more expensive to cope with.”

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Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry speaks about climate policies during a Washington Post event on Thursday.

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry speaks about climate policies during a Washington Post event on Thursday.
(C-SPAN/Video Screenshot)

The United Nations’ (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has urged world leaders to take action to prevent the Earth from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The panel has warned that failing to curb warming from surpassing that level could result in cataclysmic impacts worldwide.

Since President Biden appointed him to be the State Department’s first-ever special presidential envoy for climate in early 2021, Kerry has engaged with leaders at UN and other global climate conferences to negotiate policies to prevent global warming. He has repeatedly backed an aggressive switch to green energy like wind and solar in an effort to rapidly reduce carbon emissions.

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“Every economic analysis of this challenge makes it very clear it is far less expensive to be investing now, to get ahead of it, than it is to wait when you will pay untold trillions of dollars,” Kerry continued Thursday.

“If you think supply chains were interrupted by Covid, wait until you see what happens when 100 million people are moving in Africa because they can’t live there anymore, they can’t produce food, there’s not enough water and it’s too hot, “the climate envoy said. “We’re seeing indicators of that in various parts of the world.”

Climate envoy John Kerry attends a UN summit in Glasgow, Scotland, on Nov. 12, 2021.

Climate envoy John Kerry attends a UN summit in Glasgow, Scotland, on Nov. 12, 2021.
(REUTERS/Yves Herman)

Most recently, Kerry led the US delegation at the UN COP27 climate summit in Egypt last month. During the conference, Kerry met with other world leaders, said the Biden administration has been “sprinting” to fight climate change and vowed further action.

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“Almost two years ago this very week, President-elect Biden asked me to be his special envoy for climate. It was a perilous moment,” Kerry said during his concluding statement at the summit on Nov. 20. “The world was rushing toward climate chaos. Any hope of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius was slipping further and further away.”

“We’ve been sprinting to make up for lost time ever since – starting on day one, when President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement, and with our updated nationally determined contribution. It’s been full steam ahead to confront the climate crisis – both at home , and in partnership around the world.”

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