‘If we lose, it’s cataclysmic’: John Kerry and Michael Bloomberg warn of midterm election impact on climate

John Kerry said the world needed to limit rising global temperatures and accelerate adaptation plans.  (REUTERS)
John Kerry said the world needed to limit rising global temperatures and accelerate adaptation plans. (REUTERS)

Billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg and the US state department have joined forces to help cities around the world reach net zero and become more resilient to climate change.

Climate envoy John Kerry and Mr Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, launched a major plan for climate action at Cop27 as midterm election day dawned in the US.

The first-of-its-kind initiative, dubbed Subnational Climate Action Leaders’ Exchange (SCALE), will see $1.5m investment from the US state department and Bloomberg to support cities worldwide to cut their emissions.

Leaning on a football analogy, Mr Bloomberg noted the seriousness of the climate crisis.

“We fumble this one, there’s no second chance. We don’t recall and run the play over again,” he said.

“We’ve got one shot to save this. If we lose, it’s cataclysmic.”

In its first phase, the programme will focus on the implementation of the Global Methane Pledge and its call for a 30 per cent reduction in methane emissions by 2030.

“We need to take an ‘all-in’ approach to keep 1.5C within reach and accelerate adaptation,” Mr Kerry, former secretary of state, told a packed audience at the US pavilion inside the Cop27 venue in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

He added: “Cities, states, and regions are going to play a critical role on climate in this decisive decade, and this initiative will help speed and scale those efforts.”

Mr Bloomberg referenced the climate denial of the former Trump administration when he spoke on Tuesday.

“The last government didn’t even acknowledge [the climate crisis] existed,” he said.

He noted that “while America was asleep at wheel we launched the C40 initiative”, referring to the global network of mayors who took up the baton on climate action during the Trump administration, making significant cuts to US emissions.

“The place we have had to go to reduce energy consumption is the cities,” he said. “Mayors are very important part of the chain.”

It comes as polling stations open for the US midterm elections amid fears from climate activists that Mr Biden’s narrowly-won Inflation Reduction Act, a historic step to tackling US emissions, could be seriously curtailed if Republicans win back the House and Senate.

Polls late on Monday revealed the contest to control the US Senate is down to the wire, while Republicans are placed to retake the House of Representatives.

In the past few days, President Joe Biden has campaigned in Albuquerque, San Diego, and Joliet, Illinois, before joining former president Barack Obama in Philadelphia to get out the vote for Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman.

Mr Obama and Mr Fetterman held an event in Pittsburgh earlier on Saturday, while Bernie Sanders also campaigned in the state.

Despite reassurances from figures such as President Biden, senior Democrats and Mr Kerry that "America is back on climate", anxiety remains in many countries over America’s long-term commitment, particularly if a Republican president - such as rumoured candidate Donald Trump - returns to the White House.