Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry Monday urged the world to accelerate its push toward green energy even as oil prices near an all-time high and legislators call for the U.S. to boost its domestic energy production.
"We have to do enough in 2020 to 2030 to be able to achieve net-zero by 2050," Kerry said, referring to a goal for the world to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050. "In order to get that zero by 2050, that's a 45% reduction in emissions in eight years."
Kerry, who was the secretary of state under former President Barack Obama, made the comments at CERAWeek by S&P Global, a conference on the future of energy.
The conference comes at a critical time for the global energy industry as Russia's war on Ukraine is causing oil prices to approach record highs. Meanwhile, the United States is considering a ban on Russian oil imports and potentially sanctioning Russian banks that process oil transactions.
That's leading many U.S. legislators to call for the U.S. to increase its domestic oil and gas production, both to lower prices domestically and to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian oil and gas. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., forcefully called on the Biden administration to push for higher domestic fossil fuel production at a hearing Friday.
"This is, in many ways, an energy war. And we need to treat it with that kind of gravity. We can’t bring a knife to a gun fight," Manchin said. "So to deny or put up barriers to natural gas projects and the benefits they provide while Putin is actively and effectively using energy as an economic and political weapon against our allies is just beyond the pale."
"The oil and gas that we produce is cleaner than what we're importing from Russia – that's a fact," Manchin also said.
After his address, Fox News Digital asked Kerry for a response to Manchin's comments. The former secretary said he didn't see Manchin's comments but did talk with the senator. Kerry didn't respond to a question asking what Manchin said in their conversation.
Kerry briefly addressed the geopolitical implications of Russia's war on Ukraine in his CERAWeek speech Monday. He condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin and acknowledged the effects of the war on global energy markets.
"This is such an important test -- assault on all of us," Kerry said. "I think it is clear that we needed to do exactly what we're doing, what President Biden and the allies are doing, which is stand up."
Kerry added: "Obviously energy is turbulent right now with the volatility of price, supply and demand. It's something we're going to live with for a little while in the midst of this. But we all have to come together… this is a defining moment for this century and the stakes could not be higher with respect to our allies in the frontline states."
Kerry also said that amid Putin's war, the world needs to stay focused on a transition to green energy in the near term or else it will not be able to reach a net-zero 2050 goal.
"Now we have this disruption, this major disruption in the marketplace, which is clearly going to have some impact," Kerry said of the war's impact on efforts to fight climate change. "I'm not suggesting we shouldn't be doing what we're doing – we should be. We're doing the right things to push back against this."
"But the real marker, my friends, is not just 2050," Kerry continued. "With this disruption… we don't quite know… about the end of next year and the next year. But the real measurement should be 2020 to 2030."
Kerry emphasized that the technology to reach net-zero exists, even if it's not currently commercially available. It's just a matter of time and money, the former secretary of state said. He said it will largely be up to the private sector to find solutions to quickly bring economically viable green energy solutions online.
"We're trying to create demand for these markets, accelerate the creation of these markets," Kerry said.
"The private sector must be at the table," he added.
Fox News' Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.