(CNSNews.com) – China and Russia pose significant challenges to the United States, but the U.S. cannot focus on those issues to the exclusion of cooperating with them on climate change, according to U.S. presidential envoy for climate John Kerry.
“The president has tried very hard – our president has tried hard to separate climate from the other issues that are real that we obviously have with China,” Kerry said in an interview with Yahoo! News.
“But we can’t get bogged down by that, because this is a universally-felt, existential challenge to the planet,” Kerry said, in reference to climate change. “And it’s important that the two largest economies in the world work to try to resolve it.”
Although China has since 2006 been the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, Kerry said it is also way ahead of the U.S. and Europe when it comes to the use of solar panels.
“In China, they have deployed far more renewable energy than we have or than Europe has,” he said. “So yes, they’re behind [when it comes to reducing carbon emissions], and it’s a problem.
Coal is a problem. But that’s why it’s important we work with China, we reach out to China, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Kerry said the U.S. has to work with China and other large emitters like India, and “we even have to find a way, ultimately – if we can resolve the war in Ukraine – to work with Russia, because Russia is a huge emitter.”
“And any one of these countries has an ability – if it doesn’t move to change its energy base – to make it much harder for the rest of the world, if not impossible, to reach the goals we’ve set.”
(The “goals” refer to the campaign to prevent average global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times.)
Kerry, a former secretary of state, had strong words for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling it an “abomination” and a violation of the post-World War II rules-based international order which must be resisted “as a matter of principle.”
But while that was “an important fight,” he continued, it was “not an exclusive fight – we also have to deal with climate at the same time.”
“It’s not, oh, let’s deal with Ukraine for the time being and then we’ll come along and we’ll deal with the other – no. Climate is already accelerating in its destructive force.”
“And we have to meet this second crisis, third crisis, whatever you want to call it, we have to meet it at the same time,” Kerry said. “And we have to win.”
‘They are working harder than most people I know’
Elsewhere in the interview, Yahoo! News’ senior climate editor Ben Adler asked Kerry about private aviation, and Kerry denied that he has flown privately since becoming President Biden’s climate czar in January 2021.
He said that he flies commercially, except for “one, maybe two” U.S. military flights to get to China during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adler then broadened the question to ask whether global elites who fly private jets to meetings to discuss climate change were being hypocritical.
“When, you know, people go to [the World Economic Forum in] Davos to talk about climate change fly private, it seems like they don’t want to make, um—”
Kerry interrupted, “They actually – I’ve talked to them about it – they offset. They buy offsets, they offset, and they are working harder than most people I know to be able to try to effect this transition.”
“Offsets” refer to when individuals or institutions pay someone else for activities – such as planting trees that remove carbon from the air – to count against their own emissions. Some green critics have likened the medieval practice to indulgences in remission of sin.
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