The Paris climate agreement on its own will not be enough to stop global warming in its tracks, the first ever US climate envoy has warned.
John Kerry, who was confirmed into the role on Tuesday, used his first speech to stress more than the global deal was necessary – and placed the US at the fore of the fight.
“You’re right to rejoin Paris on day one,” he said of President-elect Joe Biden. “You’re right to recognise that Paris alone is not enough.
“At the global meeting in Glasgow one year from now, all nations must raise ambition together or we will all fail together. Failure is not an option.
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“Succeeding together means tapping into the best of American ingenuity, creativity and diplomacy.
“From brain power to alternative energy power, using every tool we have to get where we have to go.”
The speech and appointment to the new role came as Mr Biden announced the first of his cabinet picks, including several other firsts for America.
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Avril Haines has been selected as the first woman to hold the position of director of national intelligence, while Alejandro Mayorkas, a Cuban-American, will be the first Latino and immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
Other appointments include Anthony Blinken to secretary of state, Linda Thomas Greenfield as the US ambassador to the UN, and national security adviser to Jake Sullivan.
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The brand new climate role is also a contrast to the outgoing President Donald Trump, who formally pulled the US out of the agreement earlier this month – three years after pledging to do so.
He said the deal, struck in 2015 under then president Barack Obama, had been “designed to kill the American economy” and that his withdrawal would save “millions” of jobs.
The Paris agreement has been adopted by nearly every country on Earth and aims to keep the global temperature increase this century to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels.
Efforts are being made to limit this increase to 1.5C.
Later in his speech on Tuesday, Mr Kerry, who originally signed the accord for the US as secretary of state, praised the president-elect’s leadership on tackling climate change, and compared him to former presidents in times of crisis and breakthroughs.
He said: “They shouldn’t doubt the determination of the country that went to the moon, cured supposed incurable diseases, and beat back global tyranny to win World War Two.
“This kind of crisis demands that kind of leadership again, and President Biden will provide it.
“It means making life healthier for citizens across the world, and it means strengthening the security of every nation in the world.
“In addressing the climate crisis, President-elect Joe Biden is determined to seize the future now and leave a healing planet to future generations.”