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John Kerry: Paris Agreement ‘Not Enough,’ ‘We Could Go To Zero Tomorrow And Problem Isn’t Solved’

John Kerry: Paris Agreement ‘Not Enough,’ ‘We Could Go To Zero Tomorrow And Problem Isn’t Solved’

President Joe Biden’s climate czar, John Kerry, claimed during a press conference on Wednesday that climate change presented an “existential” threat so severe that the Paris Climate Agreement alone is “not enough” and that if U.S. carbon emissions immediately dropped to “zero tomorrow” that the problem still would not be fixed.

“The stakes on climate change just simply couldn’t be any higher than they are right now. It is existential,” Kerry claimed. “We use that word too easily, and we throw it away. But we have a big agenda in front of us on a global basis, and President Biden is deeply committed — totally seized by this issue, as you can tell by this executive order and by the other — the initiative for getting back into Paris immediately. That’s why he rejoined the Paris agreement so quickly because he knows it is urgent.”

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“He also knows that Paris alone is not enough — not when almost 90 percent of all of the planet’s emissions — global emissions — come from outside of U.S. borders. We could go to zero tomorrow and the problem isn’t solved,” Kerry continued.  “So that’s why today, one week into the job, President Biden will sign this additional executive set of orders to help move us down the road, ensuring that ambitious climate action is global in scope and scale, as well as national, here at home.”

Video and transcript below:

PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT:

JOHN KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. It’s great to be here. Let me say, first of all, what a pleasure it is to be here with Gina. I’m a big fan of Gina’s. Gina and I worked very, very closely together during the campaign, when we sat down to bring the Bernie Sanders folks together around the Biden climate plan. And she is the perfect person to be tackling the domestic side of this equation, which is complicated. And nobody knows the details better than she does, and nobody is going to be more effective in corralling everybody to move in the same direction.

It’s also an enormous pleasure for me to be here with Jen Psaki. She mentioned that — nobody was her boss, but I had the privilege of working with her. And she — seven years ago, we gathered in the State Department briefing room. She’s traded up, obviously, but she has not given away any of her fundamental principles and commitment to telling you all the truth, telling the American people the truth, and doing so with great candor and transparency. And I’m very happy to be here with her.

The stakes on climate change just simply couldn’t be any higher than they are right now. It is existential. We use that word too easily, and we throw it away. But we have a big agenda in front of us on a global basis, and President Biden is deeply committed — totally seized by this issue, as you can tell by this executive order and by the other — the initiative for getting back into Paris immediately. That’s why he rejoined the Paris agreement so quickly, because he knows it is urgent.

He also knows that Paris alone is not enough — not when almost 90 percent of all of the planet’s emissions — global emissions — come from outside of U.S. borders. We could go to zero tomorrow and the problem isn’t solved.

So that’s why today, one week into the job, President Biden will sign this additional executive set of orders to help move us down the road, ensuring that ambitious climate action is global in scope and scale, as well as national, here at home.

Today, in the order that he will sign — that Gina has described to you — he makes climate central to foreign policy planning, to diplomacy, and to national security preparedness. It creates new platforms to coordinate climate action across the federal agencies and departments sorely needed. And most importantly, it commissions a National Intelligence Estimate on the security implications of climate change to give all of us an even deeper understanding of the challenges.

This is the first time a president has ever done that. And our 17 intelligence agencies are going to come together and assess exactly what the danger and damage and potential risks are.

The order directs the State Department to prepare a transmittal package, seeking Senate advice and consent on the Kigali Amendment, to the Montreal Protocol — an amendment that by itself, if ratified and fully enforced globally, could hold the Earth’s temperature by 0.5 of an entire degree — not insignificant.

And it sets forth a process for us to develop an ambitious new Paris target, as well as a U.S. climate finance plan, both of which are essential to our being able to bring countries of the world together to raise ambition and meet this moment when we go to Glasgow for the follow-on agreement to Paris.

So that’s the only way for the world to succeed together, my friends. And so, again, this is an issue where failure literally is not an option.

As he committed to doing on the campaign trail, the President is announcing that he will host a Leaders Summit on Climate Change less than three months from now, on April 22nd, Earth Day, which will include a leader-level reconvening of the Major Economies Forum. We’ll have specifics to lay out over time.

But the convening of this — of this summit is essential to ensuring that 2021 is going to be the year that really makes up for the lost time of the last four years and that the U.N. Climate Conference — COP26, as it’s called, which the UK is hosting in November — to make sure that it is an unqualified success.

The Road to Glasgow will be marked not just by promises, but by progress, at a pace that we can all be proud of. And Gina is going to be putting her efforts into making certain that that is true. The world will measure us by what we can do here at home.

So with these executive actions today, we believe we’re steps further down that journey.

Thank you.

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