US Envoy: Geopolitics could harm climate efforts

BERLIN – The U.S. climate ambassador John Kerry warned Friday that geopolitical tensions — including the crisis between Russia, Ukraine, and other countries – could hinder international efforts to reduce global warming, even though time is short.

The former Secretary of state warned at the Munich Security Conference that rising energy costs could make it difficult for governments and consumers to take tough steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s not going to be positive because it’s going to distract rather enormously,” Kerry said of the current tensions. He stated that fuel prices will continue to rise. “It will push people towards the path of least resistance, which we are already too much locked into, and that will bring about the path of greatest destruction.”

At the same time, Kerry said the situation could encourage some European nations such as Germany, which depend on Russian gas, coal and oil for much of their energy needs, to expand the use of renewable energy or seek other suppliers faster. Will it encourage transition? In a telephone interview, he said that he believed it would.

Kerry has been the leader of the Biden administration’s international climate diplomacy effort. He said that the U.S. is in discussions with the European Union about how they will prevent domestic producers from being affected by imports from non-emissions reduction countries.

Washington and Brussels hope to ensure their respective approaches to the problem are compatible, but potential trade conflicts loom with Russia and China, which strongly oppose any possible tariffs on their goods.

“Any country that is serious about climate will not be passive about competing with countries that are not,” Kerry said. He said that

”(Russian and China want to be able to make dirty products. This is unacceptable.

Still, Kerry noted that without Russia, China and other major emerging economies reducing their emissions of planet-warming gas, global goals to limit temperature rise by the end of the century can’t be met.

” It is determined by simple mathematics, and physics,” Kerry stated during his remarks at the Munich conference.

Scientists have said emissions need to drop drastically this decade to prevent the worst impact of climate change.

“This is really the critical year during which we will either prove we’re serious and we’re going to try to do what we have to do in 10 years, or we can’t do it,” said Kerry. “In which case we will be spending trillions of dollars cleaning up the mess and trying to cope with the crisis.”

“I think it’s going to be quite dramatic in the picture it paints of how far behind we are.”

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