Kerry rallies around global climate push as uncertainty grows in US
John Kerry is everywhere and on the move at a fateful United Nations climate summit.
President Joe Biden’s envoy to the Glasgow talks, Kerry is emerging from side talks with US rivals China and Russia, who are painstakingly seeking common ground on climate, to press conferences touting the progress. Kerry is involved in project launches, rewarding CEOs and bankers for their emissions reduction efforts with time and high praise. The gangly envoy smiles for a photo with indigenous Brazilian women, their feather headdresses barely reaching his chin.
Towards the end of the first of two weeks of the UN climate summit, Kerry’s voice grew hoarse over his mission to rally global climate efforts that threaten to hit a wall at home.
“The alternative is you don’t do nothing, you say nothing” on the climate, Kerry told reporters at the summit. “You have no promises, you have no commitments. And you are sitting there, waiting for the flood.” He spoke of an increasingly urgent climate fight, as global warming due to combustion Fossil fuel scale is escalating, and heavier and heavier, as the US’s own seesaw policy is in jeopardy Biden’s climate efforts and once again threaten global climate momentum.
With the summit underway, the US House finally passed a stalled infrastructure bill on Friday that contains important measures to reduce US emissions.
But Biden’s lagging political support and Republican upheaval in off-year elections last week increase uncertainty over the U.S. administration’s ability to deliver on some of Biden’s biggest climate promises.
Kerry, Secretary of State to President Barack Obama and former Senator returned after President Donald Trump to serve as Biden’s climate envoy.
The job involved apologizing for the global disruption Trump, who pokes fun at the science behind climate change, caused when he pulled the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which Kerry helped to negotiate. Scientists say the ground lost during the Trump administration leaves this decade the last chance to prevent the Earth from warming to more catastrophic levels.
Kerry’s job is now part diplomat, part cheerleader. At the Glasgow climate conference, as in previous months, Kerry negotiates to define all possible new climate efforts from countries and businesses – then asks for more. While the United States’ return to global climate negotiations has helped push the allies to deeper emission cuts, the world’s other big polluters other than the United States – China, Russia, India and others – are at best short of show promises.
At 77, Kerry is leading just the last of her campaigns in a decades-long personal battle to reduce the fossil fuel emissions that heat the Earth. Kerry “brings a deep understanding of what is at stake,” said Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International and a veteran of the climate talks. “He brings long-term relationships to these talks and the spirit of collaboration.” Yet, she adds, he “is limited by what is going on at home.” Morgan said.
Conservative groups are singling out Kerry online, making social media memes of his wealth – in Glasgow he featured a speaker as his neighbor on Martha’s Vineyard – and a supposed love of traveling the world.
Kerry’s diplomatic intention to try to push and drag coal-loving China into faster emissions cuts also puts him in public contrast to Biden and some of Biden’s top officials, who have become scathing criticism of China, the world’s biggest carbon polluter. The United States is the second worst.
Biden’s farewell words as he left the Glasgow summit last week after joining more than 100 other world leaders here were that Chinese President Xi Jinping had made a “big mistake” by not attending.
“They have lost the ability to influence people around the world,” Biden said. Seasoned observers of the global climate talks speak favorably of Kerry’s quieter work as climate envoy.
Thom Woodroofe, US-China climate diplomacy researcher at the Asia Society Policy Institute, said Biden’s appointment of the former secretary of state made countries like China “really sit down and take note matter … The Biden administration was going to bank on diplomacy and climate action at home. ”As Chinese leaders publicly reprimand and snub members of the Biden administration, China’s own veteran climate diplomat Xie Zhenha, told reporters in Glasgow he calculated he had spoken to Kerry 23 times in Kerry’s current position. When a news site ran a cartoon showing Kerry with an exaggerated chin with a hand on Xie’s shoulder with the equally exaggerated round face, and the other hand holding the Earth and its future, Kerry had the drawing framed and presented it to Xie.
At the Climate Summit, Kerry’s size makes him a special place among the thousands of climate advocates, government officials and journalists at the summit site, which stretches for more than half a mile (almost a kilometer). It’s a mix of permanent and temporary structures along the River Clyde in Glasgow that looks like an airport terminal flanked by a military forward operating base. Kerry seems patient and polite with lawyers and random reporters around the world approaching her at the top.
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)