By Anders Lorenzen
Leading climate scientists, policy-makers, industry professionals and activists have lined up to criticise the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry after he appeared on the UK’s BBC Andrew Marr Show saying that 50% of all emissions cuts will need to come from technologies we don’t yet have. Kerry clarified his remarks by saying this is what scientists have been telling him.
There has been some speculation about what Kerry means; for instance, it could be technologies not yet adopted at a commercial scale or technologies which have yet not been invented.
One of the biggest political misunderstandings
Brian Vad Mathiesen, Professor of Smart Energy Systems at the University of Aalborg in Denmark, on Twitter called it one of the biggest political misunderstandings of recent times and has asked who these scientists are.
Jesse Jenkins, Professor at Princeton University, US, specialising in macro-energy systems engineering, optimization, and policy tweeted that this was just plain wrong and hoped Kerry had been misquoted.
Dr Genevieve Guenther, Expert Reviewer for the contribution of Working Group III to the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, called it a more dangerous line than outright climate denial as it represented a climate advocate sharing climate deniers beliefs.
Americans do not need to change their lifestyles
Perhaps equally controversially, Kerry also suggested that people do not need to give up lifestyle choices such as eating red meat and other high consumption activities in order to tackle the climate crisis. This is despite the fact that Americans have the highest per capita carbon footprint in the world, and green groups have for years warned that US level consumption habits are not possible if we are to tackle the climate crisis as well as restoring biodiversity and ecosystem loss.
At the end of this year, world leaders will meet at the UN climate summit COP26 in Glasgow, UK, set to be the most crucial climate summit since the Paris Agreement was agreed upon at COP21 in Paris in 2015.
The US has a mountain to climb to tackle climate change after four years of inaction under Donald Trump and speculation is mounting that the country might be lining up to some climate action delay tactics ahead of COP26, where there will inevitably be pressure on the world’s historically biggest emitter to do more.