Biden Climate Czar John Kerry Will Stay at Least Through UN Summit in November

Biden Climate Czar John Kerry Will Stay at Least Through UN Summit in November
U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, John Kerry, leaves 10 Downing Street in London on Dec. 8, 2021. (Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Bill Pan
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Special climate envoy John Kerry, who is speculated to soon leave the Biden administration, has confirmed that he will remain in his post at least through this year’s United Nations climate summit.

“There’s sufficient unfinished business that I felt it would be inappropriate to walk away from that at this point in time,” Kerry told The Boston Globe in a report published on Sunday.

The U.N. summit, called COP28, will be held in Dubai from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12. President Joe Biden has been relying on Kerry to lead those climate talks since 2021, when he reversed Trump administration’s decision to abandon the Paris pact and resumed sending formal delegations to annual meetings.

“My main objective is to raise the ante at this COP, so we are coming out of there with a head of steam on emissions reduction and finance,” the former secretary of state told the Globe. “There are things that are riper, more compelling, more obvious, more necessary, more urgent.”

“We absolutely understand the road ahead and what we need to do, and I think we can make this COP even more important in terms of eliciting increased ambition,” he said. “This has a chance of kicking everybody in the rear end and pushing this process into higher gear, which is where it needs to go.”

COP28 will be the 28th time that U.N. member states have met in an attempt to agree on appropriate global action in response to the changing climate.

It was widely reported last year that Kerry was actively considering leaving the Biden administration after COP27 in Egypt. The rumor prompted Kerry office to clarify that he was solely focusing on the U.N. summit and that “anything else is baseless speculation.”

As Biden’s climate czar, Kerry has been pushing the world’s other major greenhouse gas producers, including China and Russia, to accelerate moving away from coal and reducing carbon emissions. The effort to convince China to abandon coal has been largely fruitless, as the communist-ruled country has become more reliant on coal as a power source than it was during its nationwide COVID-19 lockdown.

Kerry’s mission to encourage Russia to speed up meeting its climate pledges also took a down turn last year, when Russian President Vladmir Putin launched a full-scale military offensive against Ukraine. In fact, Kerry drew much criticism after expressing hope that the world would not “lose focus” and that Putin would “stay on track” with addressing climate change amid the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

“It could have a profound negative impact on the climate, obviously. You have a war and obviously you’re going to have massive emissions consequences to the war,” Kerry said in a Feb. 24, 2022, interview with BBC Arabic. “But equally importantly, you’re going to lose people’s focus, you’re going to lose certainly big country attention because they will be diverted and I think it could have a damaging impact.”

“Hopefully President Putin would realize that in the northern part of his country, they used to live on 66 percent of the nation that was over frozen land,” he said. “Now it’s thawing, and his infrastructure is at risk and the people of Russia are at risk. And so I hope President Putin will help us to stay on track with respect to what we need to do for the climate.”

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