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Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry at the White House in January. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry will travel to London, Brussels, and Paris next week to "work with European allies to strengthen global climate ambition" ahead of two key summits on the issue, his office announced Saturday.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Ben Geman: Kerry's trip is a sign that team the U.S. is seeking tangible outcomes from President Biden's Leaders Summit on Climate next month, not just talk and vague calls to get serious about tackling climate change.

Of note: Kerry's March 8-10 visit to the European cities marks the first major in-person multilateral meeting for months, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing leaders to hold such talks virtually. Kerry was vaccinated against the virus last month.

Details: In London, Kerry will meet with representatives from the British government who are hosting this November's 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow, Scotland, per a statement.

  • He'll meet with representatives of the European Commission in Belgium's capital and with French government officials in Paris.

What they're saying: The State Department said in an emailed statement that Kerry is traveling to Europe following careful consultation with his hosts "because the progress we need demands a handful of key in-person meetings to coordinate our efforts."

  • Officials would "observe all applicable public health regulations and safety measures" to protect against the coronavirus, including physical distancing and wearing face coverings as appropriate, the statement added.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from the State Department.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Mar 5, 2021 - Energy & Environment

China's 5-year plan is hazy on climate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

China's highly anticipated 5-year plan revealed on Friday provides little new information about its climate initiatives, leaving plenty to discuss in multinational meetings this year and lots of blanks for China to fill in later.

Driving the news: The top-line targets for 2025, per state media, aim to lower energy intensity by 13.5% and carbon emissions intensity by 18% — that is, measures of energy use and emissions relative to economic output.

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.