Former President Donald Trump all but destroyed America's credibility when it comes to addressing climate change, John Kerry said in a new interview with the New Yorker magazine. Kerry, the former Democratic presidential candidate and secretary of state, is President Biden's special envoy for climate.
Asked how costly the Trump administration had been in the global effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions as a way to mitigate rising temperatures, Kerry pulled no punches.
"The damage that President Trump wreaked worldwide is not limited to climate. But on climate he did a whopper of a job of putting America’s credibility in a terrible place, destroying it fundamentally," Kerry responded. "I hear from country after country: How do we know we can count on America? How do we know that another president is not going to come along, someone like Trump, who does the same thing again?"
As president, Trump refrained from speaking about climate change, which he had previously dismissed as a hoax perpetrated by China in an attempt to damage the U.S. economy. He pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord and rolled back numerous greenhouse gas regulations, the effect of which, experts say, has been to help worsen the climate crisis.
Since taking office, Biden has sought to rally world leaders around a common goal of keeping global average temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, a threshold beyond which climate scientists warn of disastrous consequences.
In early November, representatives from governments around the world will attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Known as COP26, the conference, Kerry told the New Yorker, represents the "last, best hope" to keep temperatures from rising above the 1.5 degree mark. To date, the world has warmed approximately 1.2 degrees Celsius, and a string of extreme weather events this summer that Kerry called "apocalyptic" has served to highlight the coming dangers for further warming.
"Well, they are apocalyptic. It’s more serious than it’s ever been, at a time that it seems as if some key nations are just unwilling to do their part, to bite the bullet and step up," Kerry said. "I view this as the last, best hope for the world to get serious and make the decisions necessary to be able to try to reduce and hold the 1.5 [increase], and even 1.5, imagine what happens at 1.5 if you already see what happens at 1.2."
On Aug. 9, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is set to release its next report, providing "the latest assessment of scientific knowledge about the warming of the planet and projections for future warming, and assess its impacts on the climate system," the IPCC says on its website.
A draft of the report leaked in June stated that mankind may have already missed its chance to keep global temperatures from exceeding the 1.5°C threshold, and that human beings are poised to suffer the consequences.
“Life on Earth can recover from a drastic climate shift by evolving into new species and creating new ecosystems,” the draft stated. “Humans cannot.”
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