US – world’s biggest polluter – calls out countries that need to 'step up' on climate change

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry attends a meeting via video link with Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (not pictured) from Tianjin, China September 1, 2021. (Reuters photo)

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry has called out a number of countries that need to “step up” on climate change, despite the fact that the United States has contributed more than any other country to the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is scorching the planet.

According to studies, the US military is the largest consumer of hydrocarbons on the planet and one of the largest polluters in history.

However, Kerry, in an interview at the Reuters Next conference on Wednesday, accused other countries of falling short on their commitments to stave off the worst effects of global warming.

“And that means you have China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, South Africa, a group of countries that are going to have to step up,” Kerry said.

“And we have to help them. This is not just unloaded responsibility on them,” he added.

Kerry has said the current climate situation cannot be rectified without “full engagement and commitment” from China.

Democrats in the United States House of Representatives and Senate have already called on US President Joe Biden to use targeted sanctions to punish individuals and companies that are worsening the global climate crisis.

In a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last month, Democratic lawmakers particularly targeted China and its companies.

The lawmakers urged the US administration to use sanction authorities under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to target individuals and companies that are found to be involved in climate-related corruption and human rights abuses abroad.

Both the Trump and Biden administrations used the Magnitsky Act became to target individuals and companies they said were engaged in corruption or human rights abuses around the world.

Largely individuals and companies from Russia, China, Belarus, Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Cuba have been targeted.

Last month, scores of countries convened in Glasgow, Scotland for the COP26 climate summit, where they reached a deal that calls for cutting global carbon dioxide emissions 45 percent by 2030 when compared to 2010 levels.

Kerry on Wednesday said private investments for clean-energy technologies are also essential for fighting climate change, according to Reuters.

“No government on the planet has enough money to effect this transition ... But, the private sector does have that money. I believe the private sector has the ability to win this battle for us,” he said.

US is world's biggest plastic polluter: Report

According to a new report submitted to the US federal government Wednesday, the United States is by far the biggest contributor to global plastic waste in the world.

Entitled "Reckoning with the U.S. Role in Global Ocean Plastic Waste," the report calls for a national strategy to tackle the growing crisis.

The US contributed around 42 million metric tons (MMT) in plastic waste in 2016 -- more than twice as much as China as and more than the countries of the European Union combined, according to the analysis.

Every American generates 130 kilograms of plastic waste in a year, with Britain next on the list at 99 kilos per person per year, followed by South Korea at 88 kilos per year, AFP reported.  

"The success of the 20th-century miracle invention of plastics has also produced a global scale deluge of plastic waste seemingly everywhere we look," wrote Margaret Spring, chief science officer of Monterey Bay Aquarium, who chaired the committee of experts that compiled the report.


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