John Kerry: ‘We don’t have to have a lower quality of life’ to combat climate change

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, now working as the Biden administration’s special envoy on climate, joins Yahoo News Senior Climate Editor Ben Adler for a candid one-on-one discussion about climate change. Kerry tells Yahoo News that while individuals may need to make lifestyle changes to reduce emissions, clean technologies will present equal if not superior alternatives.

Video Transcript

BEN ADLER: There are some people who don't want to change their lifestyle. We're going to have to switch at some point from gas for heating and cooking to electricity if we're going to reach net zero.

JOHN KERRY: Unless somebody were able to provide that with zero carbon intensity. I mean, if you can do that-- now, that's not doable today, so yes, gas at a certain point becomes a serious challenge here.

Let's say you're going to take a coal plant and you want to shut it, and you're going to do gas instead. For about the next seven, eight years or so, that's something that you could do because it's an immediate 30% to 50% reduction in the emissions. But after that period of time, we have to meet the net zero 2050. So you've got to be able to reduce gas emissions also. That's the challenge for the industry.

BEN ADLER: Are you saying people aren't going to have to change their lifestyle at all to prevent catastrophic climate change?

JOHN KERRY: I think you have to frame that the right way. When you say change your lifestyle, people feel, oh, you're challenging me to have a lower quality of life. No. We don't have to have a lower quality of life. But do you have to change some of the choices you make in your life? Yeah.

I have now a solar field outside the house that's feeding the house. I have-- I drive an electric car now. I didn't do that five years ago. And when I got in the electric car, I said to myself, why did I wait so long? It's a fabulous drive. So I think that, yes, we have to make different decisions, but they do not have to-- and shouldn't, absolutely shouldn't-- reduce the quality of life of citizens.