Kerry aims to restore the United States to a leading role in the fight against climate change

From a wood-panelled library in his Boston mansion, new climate envoy John Kerry is restoring the United States to a leading role in global climate action, making it clear that the nation is not just stepping up its own efforts to reduce oil, gas and coal pollution, but also intends to push everyone in the world to do more.

Kerry’s diplomatic efforts match the rapid pace of national climate guidance by the week-old Biden administration, which created the post Kerry now holds. Those guidelines include a Biden order expected Wednesday outlining how U.S. intelligence, defense and homeland security agencies should address security threats posed by worsening droughts, floods and other natural disasters amid the global warming.

At 77, Kerry is working to make a success of the global climate agreement he helped broker in Paris as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state – and then saw it rejected by President Donald Trump, who also rejected all other Obama-era legacies. efforts to wean the US and global economies off climate-damaging fossil fuels.

Success for Kerry is hardly assured. At home, he faces a setback in the oil and gas industry and hears concerns about job loss. Internationally, there is uncertainty about whether Biden’s climate pledges can survive intensely divided US politics, let alone the upcoming presidential transition.

Meanwhile, environmentalists push him to be aggressive, even going so far as to demonstrate outside his house on his first full day on the job.

Underscoring the urgency, Kerry – working from her home on Boston’s Patrician Beacon Hill during the COVID-19 pandemic – sat down in front of a computer screen and began talking before sunrise last Thursday, her first full day in his new job, at a global company stage in Europe.

Since then, he has spoken virtually with US mayors, foreign presidents and prime ministers, government ministers and others, until the light of the setting sun slid across the gilded spines of the shelves of leather-bound books. from his library.

Kerry urges: Put your big one-time COVID-19 economic stimulus funding into projects that drive cleaner energy. Quickly advance green projects in Republican-leaning US states to prove that renewable energy can mean jobs and gain the political support needed. Get everyone talking to China about things like stopping the construction of dirty coal-fired power plants.

If China and the United States, as the world’s largest and second-largest carbon emitters, don’t spell out exactly how they will cut climate-damaging emissions faster, “we’re all going to lose our credibility,” Kerry told a reporter. internet user. gathering of American mayors last weekend.

The United States must have the “credibility to come to the table, show people what we are doing and push them to do more,” Kerry said then. “So everyone can understand that it’s not fake, it’s not an empty fake promise – it’s getting really real.”

Kerry is a full-time senior climate member on the White House National Security Council. The role acknowledges what climate and military experts say, the growing conflicts around the world as climate change increases competition for natural resources. It takes into account the lack of preparedness of the United States to protect military installations and all infrastructure against worsening floods and other natural disasters as temperatures rise.

By giving someone of Kerry’s stature an equally important job, Biden aims to “regularly bring the climate issue into the conversation” on national security issues, said John Podesta, Obama’s climate adviser and chief of staff. from the White House for President Bill. Clinton.

Kerry should have offices at the White House and the State Department.

Meanwhile, the home library where Kerry now holds most of her big online meetings has earned her a 10 out of 10 from the popular ‘Room Rater’ Twitter account which judges background decor in Zoom calls and TV appearances from people. This is despite expressing doubts as to whether it was a play or a setting.

Kerry and other climate leaders in the Biden administration will work to set a tougher emissions reduction target for the United States, as well as deliver on pledges to increase climate finance for the least developed countries. poorer.

On Thursday, the progressive branch of the Sunrise Movement in Boston had protesters outside its Boston home holding signs saying “Kerry be brave.” This decision shows that the left is keeping up the pressure for what could be a politically delicate level of aggressiveness on the reduction of fossil fuels.

“Our role is … now to hold them accountable,” Sunrise Movement spokeswoman Ellen Sciales said on Tuesday, and to urge them to “push us to address the scale and urgency of the climate crisis.” “.

On the right, some Republican lawmakers and the politically influential oil and gas industry were subdued in the first week of the Biden administration, saying they hoped to work with Kerry and others on climate efforts.

Kerry told the mayors he spoke with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia during Biden’s January 20 inauguration. Kerry said he and Manchin, who have fought climate regulations he sees threatening his coal-mining state’s economy, agree: Winning America’s fight against climate change will depend on creating energy jobs renewables in places like West Virginia and Tennessee as soon as possible.

Then, “boom, you’re gonna start getting believers,” Kerry said from her library. “They’re not going to believe it when we say it. We have to do it.”


This story has been corrected to show Thursday’s interview was with a global trade forum in Italy, not government ministers.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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