John Kerry says US will need to regain 'credibility' in climate talks

President-elect Joe Biden plans immediately to re-enter the 2015 Paris climate accord, which Kerry helped negotiate but from which defeated President Donald Trump withdrew the United States.

FILE: Incoming US climate envoy John Kerry. Picture: AFP

WASHINGTON - Incoming US climate envoy John Kerry acknowledged that he will need to work to restore Washington's credibility as he seeks to build more robust global action to address the crisis.

President-elect Joe Biden named the former secretary of state to the new envoy role with a seat on the National Security Council, in a sign of the importance the next administration will attach to climate as temperatures hit new record highs.

Biden plans immediately to re-enter the 2015 Paris climate accord, which Kerry helped negotiate but from which defeated President Donald Trump withdrew the United States.

"It's simple for the United States to re-join but it's not so simple for the United States to regain its credibility," Kerry told National Public Radio in an interview aired Thursday.

"I think we have to approach this challenge with some humility and with a very significant effort by the United States to show that we're serious and we really are back."

Kerry said that Trump, who questioned the accepted science behind climate change and vowed to defend fossil fuels, was an "aberration" and that US businesses were already serious about evolving to a greener economy.

The former top US diplomat said he expected to work with China, despite its differences with the United States on a host of other issues, ahead of the UN-led climate conference in Glasgow late next year.

Kerry, in a separate interview with NBC News, said he hoped to bring "reluctant partners to the table" to raise ambitions beyond the Paris level.

"I am confident that we can get there. The issue is are we going to get there in time. That's our race. This is our moonshot."

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