Kerry says 'a few' countries want to retreat from 1.5 degree climate goal

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said Sunday that “a few” countries are resistant to mentioning a 1.5 degree Celsius global warming goal in whatever agreement emerges from the COP27 summit in Egypt. 

“You’re absolutely correct. There are very few countries, but a few, that have raised the issue of not mentioning this word or that word,” Kerry said at the United Nations conference, where hundreds of global leaders are gathered to discuss climate change action, according to Reuters.

“But the fact is that, in Glasgow that was adopted, the language is there. And I know … Egypt doesn’t intend to be the country that hosts a retreat from what was achieved in Glasgow,” Kerry added. Last year’s conference was hosted in Glasgow, Scotland. 

Kerry did not name any particular countries in his remarks.

Global governments committed to the 1.5 degree limitation as a goal in the Paris Agreement signed in 2015, but international progress on the climate front has been slow — and the U.N. has said the world’s warming will fail to stay within that threshold if significant actions aren’t taken. It warned the consequences could be devastating.

Over a week into the conference, negotiators are reportedly growing frustrated with the slow pace of talks.

The BBC reported that the Egyptian presidency is struggling to find common ground on the 1.5 degree pledge, leading to fears that it may be softened in the COP27 agreement.

“I have been worried that there seems to some kind of attempt to say maybe 1.5C is not achievable any more,” the former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, told the Irish Times at the summit, per the BBC. “That is not acceptable,” she added.

The UN’s secretary general, António Guterres, offered a dire warning as the summit began earlier this week.

“Our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator,” he said.

The conference is set to end on Nov. 18.