Kerry urges world leaders to set ‘ambitious goals’ for emissions treaty

Source: Lisa Friedman, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, September 22, 2014

Kerry’s comments at the opening of Climate Week events here were his second in as many days pledging that the United States is moving ahead domestically and pushing others to do more. He touted the Obama administration’s plans to regulate power plant emissions and claimed the United States has done more to cut carbon in the past five years than in the past 20 combined.

“It doesn’t cost more to deal with climate change. It costs more to ignore it and put our head in the sand and continue down this road of obfuscation and avoidance. And we need to make it clear to the people of this country,” Kerry said.

More than 120 heads of state will convene at the United Nations tomorrow for a first-of-its-kind summit aimed at setting the stage for a new global agreement. Expected to be inked in Paris in 2015, the deal calls on all major emitters to cut carbon after 2020. Countries have been asked to announce those new targets by early next year.

Kerry today pledged that the United States will be ready and said the country and China are working closely to prepare for Paris.

“If together we can state ambitious goals for the next year, our hope is that it will act as a major incentive for next year,” he said.

Kerry, who has been working on climate issues for more than 20 years and pushed unsuccessfully for climate legislation when he served in the Senate, said the key to making Paris a success is for countries to work together.

“The 2015 U.N. agreement is not going to be the final step toward solving climate change, but I’ve got news for you. It’s going to be the most important one, perhaps since Kyoto,” he said.

Tomorrow’s summit has attracted hundreds of businesses announcing new moves to cut deforestation in their supply chains, boost renewable energy and measure carbon emissions.

In one of the morning’s biggest announcements, Russia and China embraced putting a price on carbon as a key strategy in reducing the threat of climate change. The major climate polluters joined about 80 other national and local governments from South Africa to Tokyo as well as more than 1,000 companies including Nokia and Shell Oil Co.

“Today we see real momentum,” World Bank President Jim Kim said. “Governments representing almost half of the world’s population and 52 percent of global GDP have thrown their weight behind a price on carbon as a necessary, if insufficient, solution to climate change and a step on the path to low carbon growth.”

Ray Johnson, senior vice president of Lockheed Martin Corp., called climate change a “clear and present danger” and called for more investments in clean technology.

“We need to take this threat seriously, and we need to start determining solutions now,” he said.