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The Biden administration’s special envoy on climate change, John Kerry, said that nations around the world have largely failed to take meaningful action to halt climate change over the past three decades.
Speaking last week at the Royal Botanical Gardens in London, Mr Kerry noted the increasingly impactful issues caused by a warming climate, such as record floods in Germany and Belgium, historic wildfires in the US and elsewhere, and shockingly-high temperatures being recorded within the Arctic Circle.
“Just last week, a rainfall of such intensity that it flooded communities in Germany, Holland and Belgium leaving hundreds of dead and thousands facing years of difficult recovery. Nigeria and Uganda also experienced massive, destructive flooding in recent weeks”, said Mr Kerry.
“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”, he continued. “We all know that the political impact of migration was a few years ago, and still, imagine what happens when places become uninhabitable and people are knocking on the door of places where they know people can live”.
In his remarks, Mr Kerry warned that the scientific community was coalescing around the conclusion that the targets, which he noted many countries are failing to meet, set by the Paris Climate Accords would likely be insufficient to stave off consequences of climate change that would dramatically reshape the way the world and its ecosystems look.
He also noted that much of the calls for urgent action on the issue now come from younger generations, who he lamented were losing faith in the ability and willingness of leaders to make meaningful changes.
“It’s no wonder their generation doesn’t share in the confidence that the world can and will move forward – the world can and will make a difference”, said Mr Kerry. “Nostalgia for what our parents’ generation accomplished is absolutely no antidote to their anxiety of these young folk, and even their anger at what our generation has so far failed to do”.
Mr Kerry is the first American to serve as a White House envoy on the issue, a status that underscores the lack of concern some previous administrations, particularly the Trump administration, showed towards calls for action on climate change.
President Joe Biden has set a goal of cutting the US’s carbon emissions by 50 per cent before 2030, though his administration has yet to take concrete actions or see legislation passed that would actually make the US get anywhere close to that target.