Oct 25, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Kerry speech lays out COP27 agenda, talks "loss and damage"

Photo illustration of John Kerry over an image of mountains in the Siani peninsula surrounded by abstract mailing shapes.

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg, Photo by Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty Images

Special climate envoy John Kerry laid out the U.S. point of view this morning on a host of issues at the upcoming COP27 climate negotiations in Egypt.

Driving the news: Here are three big things to know about his wide-ranging remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations...

He fears Wall Street backsliding: Kerry emphasized the need to mobilize private capital to fund the clean energy transition and criticized "slowing" momentum among banks and financiers this past year given the Ukraine war and ensuing European energy crisis.

  • "For every $1 invested in low carbon energy supply, $1.10 is invested in fossil fuels," he stated in prepared remarks. "The math and the science unequivocally make clear, we cannot hit our targets unless we dramatically change that ratio."

He strongly calls for reforming the World Bank: Multilateral development banks are a key target for criticism, as Kerry and others want these institutions to funnel far more money toward low-carbon solutions abroad.

Kerry sees escalating climate disasters as motivation to act with urgency: Kerry cited the megadrought in the Southwest, heat waves and drought in China: "This past perilous year may well prove better than all those still ahead" without swift action, he said.

The intrigue: Kerry's appearance on Tuesday addressed the U.S. position on "loss and damage" at COP27.

  • "Loss and damage" refers to industrialized countries agreeing to pay developing nations for the impacts of climate change that go beyond adaptation limits.
  • The U.S. and EU have signaled a willingness to discuss the topic at COP27 but resistance to a specific fund.
  • Kerry was careful not to commit to a specific funding mechanism at COP27, but rather to a continuing dialogue through 2023 and possibly 2024.

What they're saying: "We're very concerned about the impacts of climate on all of these countries," Kerry said of the developing nations, such as flood-ravaged Pakistan, seeking financial support in response to major climate disasters.

  • "We're all determined to come up with progress, but something real that we can begin to define for everybody," he said. "You've got to make things happen that can work, that can be functional in your own political system," he said.
  • The possibility of a Republican-led House next year could make it far more difficult to mobilize Congress to fund international climate assistance for adaptation and loss and damage, which is something U.S. negotiators will be cognizant of in Egypt.
  • The midterm elections will take place during the first week of the summit.
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