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John Kerry has long chances to cement his legacy at the climate summit

Meanwhile, the European Union, which is used to regulating industries to extract carbon from its economy, is considering the creation of a border carbon tax that would penalize imports of certain carbon-intensive products from from countries that do not have their own climate policies. The move aims to protect industries in the bloc who fear that tackling climate change imposes costs that make them less competitive, but is likely to fuel trade tensions with trading partners, such as the United States.

For Kerry, who sits at the heart of Biden’s group of climate experts, meeting the goal of avoiding sea-level rise, devastating droughts and forest fires has never been more critical. , as well as the brutal storms that climate change brings.

Six years after leading the diplomatic effort that cemented the historic Paris climate deal, he will try to coax the often recalcitrant governments of China and India to align with efforts to phase out fossil fuels. And he will have to do it because many in the United States – including skeptical members of his own party – are reluctant to turn off the tap that has made the country the world’s largest oil and gas producer.

The son of a foreign service officer and social activist, Kerry has often expressed his causes in moral terms, from his 1971 testimony against the Vietnam War before a Senate committee to his calls this year to step up the urgency to cut gas. Greenhouse effect. The goal of these efforts is to prevent global temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – a warming that scientists say would cause sea level rise that would make several island nations. uninhabitable over the next decades and threaten millions of people.

As it stands, the world is on track to see an increase of 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, which would increase seas, make entire regions unbearably hot and trigger floods. , forest fires and even more catastrophic droughts.

“How many politicians,” Kerry asked in an interview earlier this year, “how many scientists, how many people have stood up and said, ‘This is existential for us on this planet’? Existential. It means life and death. And the question is, do we behave like we do? And the answer is no. “

Kerry’s job is officially that of Biden’s special presidential envoy for the climate, and he only responds to the president – with whom he is in frequent contact – and his former subordinate Antony Blinken, the secretary of ‘US state.

He’s also in regular contact with officials from the Treasury Department – the crucial agency for building financial networks to slow fossil fuel financing, protect the economy from climate shocks and deliver the billions of dollars pledged to developing countries.

And he speaks regularly with members of the Senate, where he served for 28 years to represent his home state of Massachusetts.

So why, at 77, is he still doing it? According to people who know Kerry, it is above all a passion for the subject. He was at the first United Nations climate conference in Rio de Janeiro during the administration of George HW Bush, where Kerry met his wife, Teresa Heinz.

It’s also the feeling of righting the ship after Trump abandoned the global effort and pulled out of the Paris Pact, even though the United States was only excluded from the deal a few months before Biden take office and join the rest of the world.

And, as Kerry frequently relates, it’s about the granddaughter who sat in his lap as he signed the Paris climate accord.

None of this comes as a surprise to the people who worked for him, who say he has expressed no plan to stop work, whether the Glasgow rally ends in success or failure.

“I haven’t heard anything suggesting he’s going anywhere,” said Todd Stern, who led climate talks for the Obama administration and worked under Kerry when he was secretary of state. “He’s a deeply committed guy. “

“I expect him to continue,” Stern added. “I have no reason to believe it isn’t.”

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