Failing to tackle climate change will be “beyond catastrophic”, US climate envoy John Kerry warned yesterday(SUN) – seven months before a crucial environmental summit hosted by Britain.

The former White House candidate issued the doomsday alert in the run-up to COP26 in Glasgow – a United Nations event aimed at curbing emissions.

Ex-US Secretary of State Mr Kerry said slashing the amount of carbon pumped into the atmosphere was “extremely urgent”.

He told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “The word 'urgent' is totally applicable to the current crisis that we’re in because countries are simply not getting the job done.

“Even if we did everything that we set out to do in the Paris Agreement, the Earth’s temperature is going to increase a very significant amount, perhaps as much as 3.7 degrees or more, and the reason for the real urgency now is that because we’re not getting done what we said we’d do in Paris, it’s actually heading towards four degrees or more.

“That’s beyond catastrophic.”

Mr Kerry said the prospect of not tackling climate change was "beyond catastrophic"
Mr Kerry said the prospect of not tackling climate change was "beyond catastrophic"

But Mr Kerry believed the crisis represents “the biggest economic opportunity the world has seen since the Industrial Revolution”.

He added: “We need to address this challenge and the beauty of it is, this creates jobs.

“In the addressing of this, in the deployment of solar, of wind, in the further explorations with respect to hydrogen fuel, in the creation perhaps of storage or longer-term batteries – these are all jobs.

“You make electric vehicles, you have people who have got to make them.

“I mean, this is the biggest economic opportunity the world has seen since the Industrial Revolution.”

Environment Secretary George Eustice said the face-to-face summit, which was delayed for 12 months because of the Covid-19 pandemic, should go ahead despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

He added: “We think it should be done in person, physically.

“We delayed it obviously last year because we wanted it to happen in person.

“I think it’s much more effective if it does happen in person and that’s absolutely our intention.

“There may be components of it that are part-virtual that some people attend virtually, but we think for the main leader summit that it happens in person and that’s our intention.”

It comes as global leaders are to take part in a virtual two-day summit on climate change from Thursday hosted by US President Joe Biden.