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John Kerry Promises US Will ‘Make Up’ for 4 Years of Absence from Paris Climate Accord

'Adaptation is not an option, it is an urgent task for this generation and those to come...'

(Headline USA) The world must take decisive action to build resilience to the devastating effects of climate change, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry told a global virtual summit Monday, pledging that Democrat Joe Biden’s new regime would play its role.

In a video message to the Climate Adaptation Summit hosted by the Dutch government, Kerry said, “We’re proud to be back (in the Paris climate accord). We come back, I want you to know, with humility, for the absence of the last four years, and we’ll do everything in our power to make up for it.”

Biden, in his first hours in office last week, signed an executive order returning the United States to the historic 2015 Paris climate accord, reversing its withdrawal by Donald Trump, who did not believe the theory of human-caused climate change.

Kerry said the Biden administration is working to announce its own more ambitious target for cutting emissions soon.

Outlining the new administration’s plans to promote climate adaptation, Kerry said it will “leverage U.S. innovation and climate data” to better understand and manage climate-related risks; increase the flow of finance to adaptation and resilience initiatives, work with institutions to improve resilience planning and promote greater collaboration.

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Kerry was among world leaders who converged — virtually — on the Netherlands for the summit seeking to galvanize more action and funding to adapt the planet and vulnerable communities to the effects of climate change.

The meeting comes after a year in which the Earth hit or neared record hot temperature levels.

“We saw the heat waves. We saw the fires. We saw the (melting) Arctic,” top NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt said earlier this month about the effects of the warming.

“Adaptation is not an option, it is an urgent task for this generation and those to come,” Chile President Sebastián Piñera said in a video message.

The Netherlands-based Global Center on Adaptation last week called on governments and financers around the globe to include funding for adaptation projects in their COVID-19 recovery spending.

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World Bank President David Malpass said the bank’s financing for adaptation measures rose from 40% of its climate finance in 2016 to more than over 50% in 2020, “and we’ve committed to making it half of our total climate finance for the next five years.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres highlighted the necessity of the funding, saying that a recent U.N. report calculated adaptation costs in developing countries to be around $70 billion dollars annually and that they are likely to rise to $280-500 billion in 2050.

“We’ve reached the point where it is an absolute fact that it’s cheaper to invest in preventing damage, or minimizing it at least, than cleaning up,” Kerry said.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.

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