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Climate envoy Kerry: G20 bears heavy responsibility to combat climate change

By Katori Keisuke, staff writer


The Biden administration’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry visited Japan. During an interview with the Asahi Shimbun on Aug. 31, the former Secretary of State said that the G20 nations bear a large share of the responsibility for halting global warming and called for major greenhouse gas emitters, such as China, to further raise their emissions reduction targets.


Kerry, who came to Japan to hold preliminary discussions ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) scheduled for late October in the UK, met with Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide, Environment Minister Koizumi Shinjiro, and other Japanese officials. After leaving Japan, Kerry will visit Tianjin, China, until Sept. 3.


While in Tokyo, Kerry praised Japan for setting a new greenhouse gas reduction target—to reduce emissions by 46% from FY 2013 levels by 2030—and agreeing to not provide new government support for coal-fueled power generation projects overseas. “These are important and feasible steps,” Kerry said, “In the long run, these measures will create more jobs and new opportunities in the Japanese economy.”


The Paris climate accord, which stipulates international rules on measures against climate change, aims to curb the rise of global temperature to well below two degrees Celsius, no more than 1.5 degrees if possible, over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.


According to the newest report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued in August, there is a possibility that the temperature will temporarily rise by more than 1.5 degrees within the next 20 years even if countries make earnest efforts for decarbonization.


“Time is running out for avoiding a catastrophic crisis,” Kerry said. “Greenhouse gas emissions must be significantly reduced by 2030.” He added that the COP26 is decisively important at this juncture, as the next 10 years will be the time for big decisions.


Kerry pointed out that the group of nations, which include Japan, the U.S., the UK, the EU, and Canada and represent 55% of the global GDP, have raised emissions reduction targets. He continued: “These countries are on track to keeping the temperature increase at 1.5 degrees. But other nations, which account for 45%, haven’t reached the level. For the next two months, we must encourage as many countries as possible to participate in the effort.”


China, which is responsible for close to 30% of global CO2 emissions, announced it will effectively achieve zero-carbon emissions by 2060. China will need to accelerate its effort to achieve this goal, however, as the country’s CO2 emissions aren’t expected to decline until about 2030.


“I hope China and the U.S. will work together toward an ambitious goal,” said Kerry, indicating that he will ask China to coordinate efforts with the U.S. to eliminate use of fossil fuels. Meanwhile, he showed consideration for China, saying, “It is wrong to force the burden on other countries. It’s important that each nation finds its own path.”

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