John Kerry irks some activists, experts with climate tech claims

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U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry waded into treacherous waters with comments about how much new tech is needed to fight global warming.

Driving the news: In part of a BBC interview that aired Sunday, Kerry said, "I am told by scientists ... that 50% of the reductions we have to make to get to net-zero, by 2050, or 2045, as soon as we can, 50% of those [emissions] reductions are going to come from technologies that we don’t yet have."

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Why it matters: That irked some activists and experts, who see it at odds with what's possible with the aggressive deployment of mature tech.

It's the latest flare-up of climate-world tensions over how much innovation is needed (though Kerry also pushes accelerated steps with existing tools).

Driving the news: Influential activist Greta Thunberg and prominent climate scientist Michael Mann were among several who criticized Kerry's comments.

  • "Great news! I spoke to Harry Potter and he said he will team up with Gandalf, Sherlock Holmes & The Avengers and get started right away!," Thunberg tweeted.

  • Mann lamented "pernicious technophilia" he blames on Bill Gates and spoke with BBC for a subsequent segment (47 minutes in here).

The other side: Jason Bordoff, who heads a Columbia University energy think tank, said people are "way overreacting."

  • If Kerry had simply added that more tech was needed "at commercial scale," the comment would have been spot-on, he argues.

  • "[W]e need innovation, lots of it, to get anywhere close to net zero," Bordoff tweeted.

The big picture: A Kerry aide noted to Axios his remarks are consistent with International Energy Agency findings.

IEA head Fatih Birol said last month: "IEA analysis shows that about half the reductions to get to net zero emissions in 2050 will need to come from technologies that are not yet ready for market."

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