US climate envoy John Kerry has warned European leaders the war in Ukraine must not prolong dependence on coal and countries must move “much more quickly” to ditch fossil fuels.
Ahead of climate talks opening this week in Bonn, Germany, Mr Kerry strongly criticised countries for failing to meet the goals they set at the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow last year, and said the war should not halt efforts to tackle the climate crisis.
The UK and other nations have looked to expand fossil fuel projects in response to the energy crisis fuelled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Kerry said further dependence on coal – the most polluting fossil fuel – would mean “we are cooked”.
The former senator and Democrat presidential candidate warned the world was “still not moving fast enough” to slash emissions of climate-altering greenhouse gases.
“We can still win this battle,” Mr Kerry said, but doing so will require a “wholesale elevation of effort by countries all around the world”.
The UN’s Climate Change Conference in Bonn begins today and marks the halfway point between the UK-hosted Cop26 summit and the Cop27 conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.
The UN has billed the talks as occurring “against a backdrop of accelerating climate impacts and geopolitical tension”.
The UN’s climate change executive secretary, Patricia Espinosa, called on governments not to be deterred from taking bold action.
“Climate change is not an agenda we can afford to push back on our global schedule,” she said last week.
“We need decisions and actions now and it is incumbent on all nations to make progress in Bonn.”
Ukrainian climate scientist Svitlana Krakovska, who is on the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change, said continuing dependence on Russian fossil fuels was fuelling the war in Ukraine.
“The cause of this war, the enabler of this war… is oil and gas,” she told the BBC today.
She called on European countries to “use this opportunity” to reduce energy demands, and thereby stop “funding the war”.
She said due to the war the climate was not a main priority in Ukraine now so she called on other countries to make “even more effort on our behalf to cope with climate change”.
The Bonn climate talks will focus on international plans for greenhouse gas emission reductions, adapting to climate impacts, and providing financial support for developing countries to cut emissions and adapt to climate change, the UN said.