Kerry says major emitters must address climate impact on Africa

John Kerry
Associated Press/Firdia Lisnawati, Pool
U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, right, walks with Turkish Deputy Minister of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change Mehmet Emin Birpinar prior to their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Joint Environment and Climate Ministers’ Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022.

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry emphasized the need for major greenhouse gas emitters to do their part to mitigate climate change in remarks Tuesday, specifically citing the disproportionate risk to African nations relative to their emissions.

Speaking to Bronwen Maddox, chief executive of the British international affairs think tank Chatham House, Kerry discussed November’s COP27 climate summit compared with last year’s event.

At the 2021 Glasgow conference, Kerry noted, nations representing the majority of global gross domestic product (GDP) committed to the goal of keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, but 35 percent remained uncommitted.

“When you’ve only got 65 percent of global GDP [committed to 1.5 degrees], you’ve got a real problem,” the former secretary of State said. “Seventeen countries in Africa [are among] 20 countries in the world that are most impacted by the climate crisis, and yet, Africa as a whole is only 2.5, 3 percent of all the emissions in the world. They’re not causing this problem.”

Kerry went on to describe recent meetings with heads of state in Senegal, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“They said, ‘We’re prepared not to dig for gas, we’re prepared not to be gas-dependent going forward, but tell me how I can provide energy to my people without it,’” he said. “’Do we have your money? Do we have your technology to deploy the renewables and have a better grid?’ The answer is no.”

Developing nations have repeatedly used the COP summit platform to call for a “loss and damages” fund to cover the existing impacts of climate change. Major emitters have historically been leery of the idea, but the summit’s location this year — Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt — will make the needs of the African continent harder to ignore.

While Kerry has not made any U.S. commitment on loss and damages, earlier this week he did not outright dismiss the idea, speaking of the need for “something real that we can begin to define for everybody.”

The U.S. midterm elections will occur during the summit, and a divided Congress or an outright GOP majority would almost certainly not agree to allocate U.S. funds for loss and damages.

Tags Africa Climate change COP26 COP27 Egypt greenhouse gas emissions John Kerry John Kerry

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