US Secretary of State John Kerry will on Sunday issue a clarion call for the world to do to more to combat climate change, warning the planet is being pushed to “a tipping point of no return”.
In his keynote speech the top US diplomat will highlight the fact that Asian nations, many of them low-lying, are particularly under threat from rising sea levels.
“Kerry will call on the global community, not just countries but individual citizens around the world, to do more now because addressing the threat of climate change will require a global solution,” a senior State Department official said.
The Secretary of State, who has long been a passionate advocate of the need to protect the environment, arrived in Indonesia late on Saturday for bilateral meetings.
On Sunday he toured a mosque to pay tribute to the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.
Later he was to deliver his speech before Indonesian students and professors at a US-run centre in Jakarta. It will be beamed live to other hubs on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.
Kerry will make “the compelling and undeniable scientific case of this growing challenge that is pushing the planet towards a tipping point of no return”, the State Department official said, asking not to be named.
Global warming was threatening not just the environment, but also “the economy and our way of life”, the official said.
He will also “underscore the ways in which Asia is particularly impacted”, she added.
Along with the United States, Indonesia, an archipelago of 17,000 islands, is one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters - in Jakarta’s case because of rampant deforestation.
Kerry announced Saturday in Beijing that China and the United States had agreed to share information on their efforts to combat climate change ahead of next year UN-led efforts to set emission reduction goals for after 2020.
Together the United States and China account for some 40 per cent of total emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
But traditionally they have been on opposite ends of the bitter debate on how to tackle the problem, with China maintaining it is still a developing country and should not be held to any international regime on emissions reductions.
Paris will host the next year UN climate change conference at which a new pact to cut global emissions applicable to all countries is due to be hammered out.
The Paris talks are aimed at reaching a deal to succeed the 1997 Kyoto treaty, which the United States never ratified, maintaining any global pact must include China. The Kyoto protocol runs out in 2020.
The agreement to collaborate ahead of next year’s talks between China, the developing world’s largest emitter, and the United States, the developed world’s biggest greenhouse gas producer, could send a powerful signal to other developing countries to clean up their act.
Currently developing countries account for some 55 per cent of global emissions, with developed countries having made major efforts to cut carbon pollutants escaping into the atmosphere.
But much of those emissions come from manufacturing goods which are then exported to the developed world.
If little is done to reduce emissions from developing countries, experts fear that by 2030 they could account for as much as 60 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions.