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John Kerry says emissions cuts are ‘do-able’ as ministers wrap last meeting ahead of COP26

By Nada Bashir, CNN

US climate envoy John Kerry said Saturday that global targets to slash greenhouse gas emissions are “do-able,” striking an optimistic tone at the end of final high-level meeting before the COP26 international climate talks in Glasgow next month.

Kerry said the more than 40 ministers who attended the pre-COP26 event in Milan were “engaged” in discussions to make the Glasgow talks a success.

Global leaders are expected to strengthen their commitments to addressing the climate crisis ahead of the Glasgow event. Dozens of countries failed to meet a July 31 deadline to update their pledges to slash emissions, as they are required to do under the 2015 Paris Agreement. There is still a significant gap between what leaders are promising and what’s needed by 2030.

“The bottom line is, folks, that as we stand here today we believe we can make enormous progress in Glasgow, moving rapidly towards the new goals that the science is telling us we must achieve,” Kerry said in Milan.

“We have to achieve somewhere in the vicinity of a 45% reduction over the next 10 years and this is the decisive decade so we still have 30 days to work and we will continue to work.”

A report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in August showed that the world is warming faster than scientists previously thought and that slashing greenhouse gas emissions by at least half this decade is crucial to staving off the more catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis.

The IPCC report said the world has already rapidly warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels, and is now careening toward 1.5 degrees — a critical threshold that world leaders agreed warming should remain below to avoid worsening impacts.

COP26 President Alok Sharma, a British lawmaker, said that there was consensus among ministers to do more to keep the 1.5 degrees Celsius target within reach and meeting a $100 billion-a-year pledge to help the most vulnerable nations tackle climate change.

“We need to deliver on the $100 billion a year, and I have said many times before, and I repeat again, that delivering on the $100 billion is absolutely a matter of trust,” Sharma said.

Kerry added that the US government is working to decarbonize its entire power sector by 2035, adding that President Joe Biden is “greatly seized” by this issue.

“By 2030, 50% of the vehicles sold in the United States are going to be electric and General Motors and Ford, big companies, have joined together to join in that. By 2035 the target is to no longer be using and selling internal combustion engine vehicles,” Kerry said.

“We will shift to an economy based on electric. Those are ambitious goals, they are big goals but they’re do-able and the private sector is joining into these kinds of initiatives,” he added.

Kerry’s tone was more diplomatic than comments made earlier in the week, when he called on world leaders to “stop the B.S.” and commit to the terms of the Paris Agreement.

“We are behind and we have to stop the B.S. that is being thrown at us by a number of countries that have not been willing to sign up to what Great Britain have signed up to, we have signed up to, Japan, Canada the EU. That is to keep 1.5 degrees alive,” Kerry said earlier.

“That’s what has to happen at COP26, a new level of transparency and accountability.”

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