John Kerry, US Special Envoy for Climate Change, came to King's College London last week to deliver this year's Fulbright Distinguished Lecture on the urgency of global climate action. The event was hosted in collaboration with Pembroke College, University of Oxford; The University of Edinburgh; the US-UK Fulbright Commission; and the Lois Roth Foundation.
In his speech, Special Envoy Kerry highlighted the importance of pressing for all major economies to align their 2030 targets with 1.5 °C and fulfil these by "halting the construction of new coal, accelerating the deployment of clean energy, slashing methane emissions and halting deforestation". He further emphasised the need to "deliver finance for climate action at scale" and "demand urgency and accountability from everyone, everywhere, every day".
"There is no mystery about what we must do. The real mystery is why it remains a fight just to do what common sense and science tell us we must do. We have a roadmap. We just need to follow it. The question is not whether there is a solution. It’s how to more rapidly implement the solution that is staring us in the face. If we do that, we know the future is cleaner, greener, healthier, and safer—if we can get there together, in time. We can if we choose to."– John Kerry, US Special Envoy for Climate Change
His address was followed by a response by Baroness Helene Hayman, Crossbench Peer and Co-Chair of Peers for the Planet, the House of Lords climate and biodiversity action group, who spoke about the challenges of shaping government policy about climate change: "This has to go through everything; it has to permeate every policy, every piece of legislation. We have to look at pensions, we have to look at the health service, we have to look at procurement, we have to look at financial services."
After Baroness Hayman's remarks, Frans Berkhout, Professor of Environment, Society and Climate at King's College London chaired a conversation between Special Envoy Kerry and Baroness Hayman. While Special Envoy Kerry warned that "we are not transitioning fast enough to where we know we need to go", he also shared a message of hope when talking about the promise of clean technologies.
The event was supported by new research by the Policy Institute at King’s College London and Ipsos about the British and US publics' perceptions of climate change and how they should respond.
The theme of the lecture is closely aligned with King's ambitions to make distinctive and visible contributions to the challenge of environmental sustainability. To discuss how to make these a reality, Professor Shitij Kapur, President & Principal, who welcomed John Kerry to King's for Friday's event, recently sat down with Professor Rachel Mills, Senior Vice President (Academic). Professor Mills is a leading oceanographer and Senior Sponsor for King’s Climate & Sustainability, a cross-university drive to rapidly scale our response to the climate emergency through our research, education, operations and action. You can watch the discussion below.