Nov 18, 2022 - World

Kerry self-isolating with COVID as fragile COP27 climate talks enter overtime

John Kerry at the COP27 summit on Nov. 16 in Egypt.

John Kerry at the COP27 summit on Nov. 16 in Egypt. Photo: Dominika Zarzycka/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry has tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating, his spokesperson said Friday, as the UN climate talks entered overtime at the COP27 summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

The big picture: Major issues remain in the negotiations, which were supposed to wrap up Friday. Kerry's positive COVID test significantly limits the normally hands-on diplomat's ability to maneuver in the fraught final talks.

  • Spokesperson Whitney Smith said in a statement that Kerry "is working with his negotiations team and foreign counterparts by phone to ensure a successful outcome of COP27."
  • He is fully vaccinated and boosted and experiencing mild symptoms, Smith added.

State of play: Kerry had been huddling with his counterparts from the EU, China and other nations during the fragile and complex talks.

  • Negotiations are expected to continue long into the night on Friday into Saturday.
  • The most sensitive area of the negotiations is largely centered on whether and how to create a new fund for big, wealthy industrial countries to compensate vulnerable nations already feeling the brunt of climate harms, with more coming in the future.
  • The U.S., the world's largest historical emitter and currently second-largest behind China, is a key player in discussions over this compensation called "loss and damage" that has emerged as the thorniest topic at the talks.

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