Every country needs to step up for the world to win the climate change battle, US climate envoy John Kerry said.
Speaking at the 13th Irena Assembly in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, Mr Kerry said 2023 needs to be the “year of reality” and that “we are moving too slowly” to meet key environmental goals.
More than 190 countries are part of the legally binding Paris Agreement, a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting the Earth's warming to 1.5°C.
“There's nothing in the current activities of countries all around the world that indicates that we are prepared to do what we need to do in order to meet the 1.5°C (goal),” said Mr Kerry during a panel session titled ‘World Energy Transition – The Global Stocktake’.
“The United States is now about 10 per cent of emissions – down from 15 per cent and heading down.
“And I have to tell you – even if we went to zero, even if China went to zero, we don't solve the problem, every country has to step up.”
Mr Kerry said that countries were missing the opportunity of buying into the renewable energy transition, despite it being “potentially the most exciting economic transformation”.
Private sector support is required
He said that trillions of dollars were still needed in the battle against climate change and that the private sector could lead global efforts.
“No government in the world has enough money to do what we need to do,” he said.
“We're talking about trillions. Who has the trillions? The private sector has the trillions.
“So, what we need to be doing globally is exciting that private sector money to begin to move to bankable deals, which bring development to parts of the world that have been left out.
“But also enlist everybody in the effort to be able to make the transition to the kind of a world and economy that we need.”
Siaosi Sovaleni, prime minister of Tonga, said they were increasingly partnering with private companies to reach their national targets.
The country is trying to achieve 70 per cent renewable energy generation by 2025.
Its previous goal was to achieve the figure by 2030, but it renewed its targets after the soaring energy prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“When Russia invaded Ukraine, we experienced very high fossil fuel prices.
“And in such electricity, food and shipping freight prices went up.
“So, basically, we want to get away from that, so we renewed some of our targets.
“In the Pacific, we've been known to be frustrated with the lack of access to financing from proper facilities.
“So, the other alternative is working with private sector on bankable projects, and that's what's happening.
“And that's why it has allowed us to have this very ambitious target for renewable energy.”
The progress countries are making under the Paris Agreement started getting assessed at the UN Climate Change Conference (Cop26) in 2021.
And the assessment will conclude at Cop28 in Dubai this year.
Cop28 head says event will be 'milestone moment'
Dr Sultan Al Jaber, president-designate of Cop28, gave one of the opening speeches during the first day of the assembly.
“Cop28 will be a milestone moment, as the world conducts the first global stocktake to assess progress against the goals of the Paris Agreement,” said Dr Al Jaber, who is also minister of industry and advanced technology and managing director and group chief executive of Adnoc.
“We don't need to wait until the global stocktake to know just how much work there is ahead of us.
“As we seek to close the gap between ambition and reality, no sector offers as much potential as renewable energy.”