WW0 Investigates: Unpacking SPEC Kerry's COP27-framing Speech
In the days before COP27 in Egypt, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry headed to the Council on Foreign Relations to frame the progress and challenges of the year since COP26 in Glasgow, and what to expect in Egypt, including the upcoming debate over "loss and damage."
Kerry acknowledged the elephant in the room -- big geopolitical challenges, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and tension with China -- but argued that “even in this year of geopolitical testing and tumult, the global climate fight has pushed on step by step, mile by mile, not just in the weeks leading up to a COP.”
Council on Foreign Relations: COP27 and International Climate Action | A Conversation with John Kerry, October 25, 2022.
Euronews: Loss and damage | How climate reparations are pitting the North against the South, June 1, 2022.
The Newsmakers: Are rich nations responsible for Pakistan’s Floods?, September 5, 2022.
His depiction of the reasons the work had to continue was searing, but not surprising to anyone who has read WW0 News: from 15 separate billion-dollar extreme weather disasters in the US, to Europe’s record-breaking heatwaves, and the Yangtze River slowed to a muddy trickle. As Kerry said, “...the climate crisis waits for no one. The threats don’t call in sick. Neither can countries committed to action just hit the pause button.”
While acknowledging that Russia’s war in Ukraine triggered “some emergency, short term increases in the use of coal,” Kerry argued that “many of the countries most dramatically affected by the collateral damage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have courageously doubled down on remaking their economies and societies to address the climate crisis.”
He said that this year of what he calls “implementation plus” would be defined by whether “countries put commitments into action... And outlier countries that haven’t strengthened their commitments now step up,” including whether the private sector follows through on the historic commitments made in Glasgow.
Euronews: UN Secretary-General says the climate crisis is placing half of humanity in 'the danger zone,' June 14, 2022.
FT: American LNG exports are surging, on the back of European demand, October 20, 2022.
Al Jazeera: What's the cost of Europe's shift back to coal? | Counting the Cost, August 27, 2022.
Bloomberg: Climate Change 'Overtakes Pandemics as Biggest Global Concern,' January 11, 2022.
Bertelsmann Foundation: A Global Security Threat | Climate Change, February 28, 2022.
Heading in to the COP, Kerry cited progress, including:
- The US is poised to ratify Kigali to phase down super-polluting chemicals thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
- Congress passed the biggest climate and clean energy investment in American history.
- A newly elected government in Australia changed the outlier country’s trajectory from global climate hold-out to responsible leader -- passing legislation to slash carbon emissions by 43% by 2030.
- In global aviation, which accounts for more than 2% of emissions, the ICAO Assembly last month adopted a target of net zero by 2050.
Forbes: Schumer Touts 'One Of The Most Significant Bipartisan Measures The Senate Takes On All Year,' September 20, 2022.
Kerry then listed question marks:
- India, the world's 3rd largest emitting nation, has set an impressive target of building 500 gigawatts of non-fossil fuel power capacity by 2030, but he said it is important that India reflect this target in its NDC.
- China is acting on clean energy, rapidly deploying renewables and electric vehicles, but it is not acting quickly enough on CO2 or covering all greenhouse gases. Will China come to Egypt with an updated 2030 NDC that accelerates CO2 reductions and addresses all greenhouse gases, including methane?
Bloomberg: How China Plans to Win the Future of Energy, March 15, 2022.
How did Kerry say we should measure whether we make progress at COP27?
- Measure implementation of the Global Methane Pledge and declarations in support of zero emissions shipping and ending deforestation.
- Check in on the progress of the First Movers Coalition that President Biden launched one year ago at COP26.
- Where are we on public finance to unlock private investment on the scale needed to finance the energy revolution? Kerry called for reform of Multilateral Development Banks, “to reimagine the system we began building after WWII to now win World War Zero -- the race to net zero emissions.”
- He also sounded a note of warning about private sector action. “A year later, we’re seeing some signs that momentum might be slowing,” said Kerry.
- Kerry previewed the debate over Loss and Damage still ahead. Kerry always couples his discussion of adaptation for the developing world with his relentless focus on mitigation, and cited an initiative to help developing countries get off of coal and transition to clean energy. “We’re working with our G7 partners, and the governments of several emerging economies -- including South Africa, Indonesia, and Vietnam -- on ‘Just Energy Transition Partnerships’ to raise climate ambition, implement critical policy and regulatory changes, and provide and mobilize the financing to achieve an accelerated energy transition in the next three to five years,” he stated.
But he was clear as well that “we also recognize the moral and economic imperative of helping vulnerable countries and communities adapt to the impacts of climate change,” and praised President Biden’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience, PREPARE, to help more than half a billion people in developing countries adapt to and manage the impacts of climate change. As Kerry said, “we developed countries need to make good on the finance goals we set, however we can, by whatever creative methods we can, to maximize the impact of our resources.”
New York Times Events: Here’s What’s New and What’s Next | Halfway to COP27, June 30, 2021.
DW: Time is running out | WMO warns 1.5 degree threshold could be topped by 2026, May 18, 2022.
World Resources Institute: What we need for a successful COP27, October 7, 2022.