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Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

John Kerry said the Biden administration is still grappling with ripple effects from former President Donald Trump’s rejection of the Paris Agreement and eschewing of multilateralism writ large.

Driving the news: In an interview with The New Yorker’s David Remnick, Kerry, the special envoy for climate change, said Trump "did a whopper of a job putting America’s credibility in a terrible place, destroying it fundamentally."

  • "I hear from country after country: How do we know we can count on America?" Kerry said. According to him, the momentum building in the private sector to move away from carbon-intensive fuels is self-sustaining and can withstand any future president.

Why it matters: Kerry made clear that this lack of trust is a roadblock to the success of the next United Nations climate summit, scheduled for Glasgow in early November.

  • At this meeting, the U.S. and other nations are seeking a commitment from the world’s top economies to slash carbon emissions by 2030 and finance the developing nations’ transition to clean energy.

Yes, but: Those major economies recently tried and failed to achieve consensus on the need to limit warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) above preindustrial levels through 2100. Kerry said the holdouts at the G20 energy ministers meeting, held last month in Italy, included China, Russia, India, South Africa and Brazil.

What's next: For a breakthrough in Glasgow, Kerry may be betting on an assist from Mother Nature, given the devastating extreme weather events of late — from heat waves to wildfires and floods.

"Mother Nature is messaging pretty forcibly right now," Kerry said. "Increasingly, leaders are taking note of this," he said, citing Russian President Vladimir Putin among that list, due to the vast wildfires in Siberia and permafrost melt in the country's Arctic region.

Go deeper

UN climate summit faces serious roadblocks

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

When world leaders hold a climate summit in Glasgow in November, success will revolve around two issues that have sunk or slowed past negotiations:

  • How to help developing countries transition to clean energy and how to respond to "loss and damage" — the devastation caused by climate change.

Obama to attend UN climate summit in Glasgow

Former President Barack Obama speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Obama Presidential Center at Jackson Park in Chicago on Sept. 28. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP

Former President Barack Obama will travel to Glasgow next month for the UN climate summit, CNN reports.

Driving the news: Obama will meet with young climate change advocates and "urge more robust action going forward by all of us — governments, the private sector, philanthropy and civil society," according to an Obama spokesperson, per CNN.

Mind the emissions gap

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The sprint to secure more stringent emissions reduction commitments ahead of the COP26 summit has petered out well short of the finish line, a new United Nations report out this morning concludes.

Driving the news: The "Emissions Gap" report offers a clear comparison between where emissions need to be to reach the Paris Agreement's goals, and where they actually are. It takes new and preexisting emissions pledges, called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), into consideration.

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