(Reuters) – The conflict in Ukraine shows now is the time to shift to clean and independent energy, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said at a conference on the pacific island of Palau as he urged nations to boost the use of offshore renewable power sources.
Russia typically provides Europe with around 40% of its gas, complicating western efforts to impose economic sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s government for Russian military actions in Ukraine.
“Now is the time to accelerate the transition to an independent and a clean energy future. President Putin cannot control the power of the wind or the sun,” Kerry said in the opening speech to the Our Oceans conference.
The conference opened on Wednesday in Palau, which has a population of just 18,000, to highlight the plight of nations on the frontline of climate change as they grapple with rising sea levels.
Nations needed to use more offshore windpower, he said. Kerry also called for the shipping industry to use more green power, saying that if the sector was a country it would be the 8th largest emitter of greenhouse gas.
Many Pacific islanders depend on fishing to survive. The problem of illegal fishing by factory trawlers from other countries who use forced labour needed to be addressed, Kerry said, adding that enforcement action could include bringing together coastguard, military and digital surveillance.
U.S. President Joe Biden, in recorded remarks, was critical of overfishing and plastics that “have filled the sea with trash”, and said Washington would announce new initiatives on ocean protection in coming days.
Palau’s President Surangel Whipps, Jr. said the climate crisis was also a humanitarian crisis, and nations like Palau needed to balance fishing and conservation.
(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)