“Regrettably, without any facts, without any science, without any rationale that would be considered reasonable, the former president decided to pull out,” Mr Kerry told reporters at the White House on Thursday following President Joe Biden’s Earth Day pledge to cut US emissions by 50 per cent by 2030.
Mr Biden announced on his first day in office that the US would re-enter the agreement after the former president refused to acknowledge the contract in 2017 and formally withdrew in 2020.
Mr Kerry – now serving in the inaugural role of the president’s climate envoy – said rejoining the agreement is part of an effort to “restore America’s credibility” and “prove that we’re serious”.
“The younger generation is today appropriately pretty upset at the adults, the alleged adults, who are not getting their act together” to address the climate crisis, he said.
Mr Biden announced the US’s non-binding emissions target as part of a two-day White House climate summit with world leaders.
His pledge – which could be used as leverage to influence other nations to raise their ambitions to address the crisis – would require sweeping overhauls to US energy and infrastructure and accelerate the transition from fossil fuels.
“The cost of inaction keeps mounting. The United States isn’t waiting,” the president said in his remarks on Thursday. “This is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.”
Mr Kerry insisted that future administrations will not be able to undo the gains pledged by Mr Biden.
“No politician in the future is going to undo this, because all over the world, trillions of dollars, trillions of yen, trillions of euros are going to be heading into this new marketplace,” he said.
He pointed to movements in the private market, including Tesla and other auto manufacturers committing to electric vehicles, that are moving ahead of government policy overtures.
“The world as a whole is moving in this direction, because these companies have made this critical long term strategic marketing judgment,” he said. “No politician, no matter how demagogic ... is going to be able to change what that market is doing because it will have moved.”
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