John Kerry is everywhere and leading the UN climate summit.
President Joe Biden’s envoy to talks in Glasgow, Kerry draws steam from talks with US rivals China and Russia that painstakingly scrutinize for common ground on the climate to news conferences praising progress. Kerry graced the project launch, rewarding CEOs and bankers for their emissions-cutting efforts, and receiving a high level of face time and praise. The slender messenger smiles for a photo with Brazil’s indigenous women, their feathered headdresses barely reaching their chins.
At the end of the first two weeks of a UN climate summit, Kerry’s voice turned hoarse with her mission to rally global climate efforts, which are threatening to hit a wall at home.
“The alternative is you do nothing, you say nothing,” Kerry told reporters at the summit. “You have no promises, you have no commitments. And you are sitting there, waiting for the deluge.”
He was referring to a climate fight that became more urgent, as the burning of fossil fuels intensified global warming, and more catastrophic, as the United States’ own wildly swinging politics jeopardized Biden’s climate efforts. and again threatening the global momentum on the matter.
To coincide with the summit, the US House on Friday passed a stalled infrastructure bill that includes some key measures to cut US emissions.
But Biden’s backward political support, and Republican upsets in last week’s off-year elections, are adding to the uncertainty that the US administration can deliver on some of Biden’s biggest climate promises.
Kerry, President Barack Obama’s secretary of state and a former senator, returned to serve as Biden’s climate envoy after President Donald Trump.
Jobs has apologized for the global disruption that Trump, who mocks the science behind climate change, when he pulled the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate accord that Kerry helped negotiate. Scientists say the ground lost during the Trump administration leaves this decade the last chance to keep the Earth from warming to more catastrophic levels.
Carey’s job is now part diplomat, part cheerleader. At the Glasgow climate conference, as in the months before, Kerry talks to countries and businesses to undercut every possible slew of new climate efforts – then pushes for more. While America’s return to global climate talks has helped allies make some deep cuts in emissions, the world’s other big polluters besides the United States – China, Russia, India and others – are short on emissions promises, at best. .
At 77 years old, Kerry is running only his latest campaign in a decades-long personal battle to curb the fossil fuel emissions that are warming the Earth.
Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International and a veteran of climate negotiations, said Kerry “brings a deep knowledge of what is at stake. He brings a long-term relationship to these talks and a sense of collaboration.” Still, she adds, he “becomes limited by what’s going on in the house.”
If “there isn’t a credible U.S. plan to meet the goals and phase out fossil fuels, there’s only so much, only so much, it can get here,” Morgan said.
Conservative groups singled out Carey online, scoured social media out of her wealth – in Glasgow she introduced a speaker on Martha’s Vineyard as her neighbor – and considered a love for jetting around the world.
Kerry’s intent on diplomacy to get coal-loving China to sharply cut emissions also makes him publicly contrast with Biden and some of Biden’s top officials, who have become outspoken critics of China. China is currently the world’s top climate polluter. The US currently ranks second, and over time, the world’s worst carbon polluter.
Words of Biden’s separation were that Chinese President Xi Jinping had made a “big mistake” in not attending when he exited the Glasgow summit after joining more than 100 other world leaders here last week.
“They have lost the ability to influence people around the world,” Biden said.
The veteran observer of the global climate talks speaks in favor of Kerry’s calm work as climate ambassador.
Thom Woodruff, a researcher on US-China Climate Diplomacy at the Asia Society Policy Institute, said Biden’s appointment of the former secretary of state made countries like China “really sit down and notice how important it is… Was going to keep it at home. “
While Chinese leaders publicly scold and rebuke members of the Biden administration, China’s own veteran climate diplomat, Zi Zhenha, told reporters in Glasgow that he calculated that he had spoken to Kerry 23 times over Kerry’s current state.
When a news site ran a caricature showing an exaggeratedly chin Kerry, with one hand resting on the shoulder of an equally exaggerated round-faced Zee, and the other hand gracing Earth and its future, Kerry cartooned framed it and presented it to Zee.
At Climate Summit, Kerry’s height makes him an easy spot among the thousands of climate advocates, government officials, and journalists at the summit site, which stretches for more than half a mile (close to a kilometer). It is a mix of permanent and temporary structures along the Glasgow River Clyde that looks like an airport terminal surrounded by a military forward-operating base.
Kerry appears patient and courteous with random advocates and journalists from around the world who approach him at the summit.
Ahead of the summit, climate activists protesting hunger at the gate of the White House impatiently filmed their phone call to another Biden administration official as he approached them on the need for climate action.
In contrast, Kerry went out and talked to young climate strikers, telling them about his environmental activism in his youth.
Kerry’s first reason after returning from fighting in the Vietnam War was activism for the first Earth Day in 1970, he says. His wife, Teresa Heinz, says they met on Earth Day later in 1990.
In 2015, his work in climate negotiations, and Xie’s confidence in Obama negotiators, including Kerry, helped seal a global climate agreement, with more than 190 countries committing to action to cut climate emissions.
The irreversible damage caused by global warming was all the more apparent by November 2016, when Kerry made his final visit as Obama’s secretary of state, becoming the highest-ranking US official to visit Antarctica.
The US presidential election had brought victory to Trump, who had already promised to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord and soon return US climate efforts to office.
Kerry crept up in boots over the frozen sea, confronted a curious penguin and talked to American scientists there.
Scientists told them that the South Pole had some of the purest air in the world, but it was also heavily polluted with coal and petroleum waste. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet was melting, collapsing and floating in the ocean from below in warmer waters.
It was “some of the most amazing wilderness,” Kerry recalled to the Associated Press last month, and it was “mixed with the negative effects of man.”