John Kerry: Climate change top priority for Joe Biden administration

"President Biden knows that we have to be mobilized in unprecedented ways to meet a challenge that is fast accelerating."

US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks on Middle East peace at the Department of State in Washington December 28, 2016 (photo credit: REUTERS/JAMES LAWLER DUGGAN)
US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks on Middle East peace at the Department of State in Washington December 28, 2016
(photo credit: REUTERS/JAMES LAWLER DUGGAN)
WASHINGTON – John Kerry, the US Special Climate Envoy, participated on Monday in the Climate Adaptation Summit hosted by the government of the Netherlands and said that the new administration intends “to make significant investments in climate action, both domestically and internationally.”
“Three years ago, scientists gave us a pretty stark warning: They said we have 12 years to avoid the worst consequences of climate change,” said the former secretary of state. “Now we have nine years left and I regret that my country has been absent for three of those years.”
He noted that the US spent $265 billion in one year for three storms, “just cleaning up after those storms.”
“We reached the point where it is an absolute fact that it’s cheaper to invest in preventing damage or minimizing it than cleaning up,” he added. “Without question, I think everybody understands that the best adaptation is to treat the crisis as the emergency that it is and do more to hold the Earth’s temperature increase to the Paris [climate accords] stated 1.5 degrees.”
He went on to say that “a 3.7 to 4.5 increase centigrade, which is exactly the path that we are on now, invites for the most vulnerable and poorest people on earth, fundamentally unlivable conditions.”
Kerry noted that an “urgent reduction” in emissions is compelled “by public conscience and by common sense.”
“President [Joe] Biden has made fighting climate change a top priority of his administration,” he continued. “President Biden knows that we have to be mobilized in unprecedented ways to meet a challenge that is fast accelerating. And he knows we have limited time to get it under control. The United States immediately rejoined the Paris agreement. We have already launched our work to prepare a new US Nationally Determined Contribution that meets the urgency of the challenge. And we aim to announce our NDC as soon as practicable.”
According to Kerry, if the international community won’t act “boldly and immediately,” it could result in a “dramatic reversal in economic development for everybody – poor and climate vulnerable communities everywhere will obviously pay the highest price.”
“We will significantly increase the flow of finance, including concessional finance, to adaptation and resilience initiatives,” said Kerry.
“We will work with bilateral and multilateral institutions to improve the quality of resilience programming. And we will work with the private sector in the United States and elsewhere in developing countries to promote greater collaboration between businesses and the communities on which they depend. And it is our firm conviction throughout all of our administration.”