Half of emissions cuts will come from future tech, says John Kerry

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US climate envoy says people will not have to give up quality of life to achieve some of net zero goals

John Kerry is visiting London next week to meet government representatives before Cop26 in November. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The  Guardian-Jessica Murray

The US climate envoy, John Kerry, has said 50% of the carbon reductions needed to get to net zero will come from technologies that have not yet been invented, and said people “don’t have to give up a quality of life” in order to cut emissions.

He said Americans would “not necessarily” have to eat less meat, because of research being done into the way cattle are herded and fed in order to reduce methane emissions.

“You don’t have to give up a quality of life to achieve some of the things that we know we have to achieve. That’s the brilliance of some of the things that we know how to do,” he told BBC One’s Andrew Marr show. “I am told by scientists that 50% of the reductions we have to make to get to net zero are going to come from technologies that we don’t yet have. That’s just a reality.

“And people who are realistic about this understand that’s part of the challenge. So we have to get there sooner rather than later.”

Kerry is visiting London next week to meet government representatives before the UN climate change conference Cop26 due to be held in Glasgow in November.

On Saturday Kerry met Pope Francis in Rome, and he described him as “one of the great voices of reason and compelling moral authority on the subject of the climate crisis”.

“I think that his voice will be a very important voice leading up to and through the Glasgow conference, which I believe he intends to attend,” Kerry told Vatican News. “We need everybody in this fight. All the leaders of the world need to come together and every country needs to do its part.”

When asked by Marr if the US would support an end to all coal-fired power stations if called for by the UK at Cop26, Kerry said Joe Biden had set a goal of making the US power sector carbon-free by 2035 but he could not speak for the president on specific proposals.

“What’s the phase-out schedule? Is it reasonable? Is everybody working in the same direction? Those are questions I’m sure President Biden will want answered, but he is leading this charge to move America on to renewable, alternative energy,” Kerry said.

The US is the second largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions after China, and has one of the highest per capita CO2 emission rates.

“We’re determined to turn that around,” Kerry said. “We are going to be moving very rapidly to a new economy, building out a new grid, moving towards alternative renewable energy, and pushing the curve on the discovery of new technologies. There are a lot of possibilities out there.”

 

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