Energy & Environment

Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry called on energy producers to ramp up their development of alternative and low-carbon technologies at a virtual conference Tuesday.

"I think that the fossil fuel industry clearly could do a lot more to transition into being a full-fledged energy [industry] that is embracing some of these new technologies," Kerry said at the CERAWeek energy conference as part of a discussion with former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, according to Reuters.

The annual energy conference, which is typically held in Houston, was held virtually in 2021 after being canceled last year. Attendees included both climate leaders and energy industry figures.

Kerry, a former secretary of State, also told conference attendees that major upgrades to U.S. energy infrastructure were needed, blaming outdated equipment and systems for the failure of Texas's self-contained energy grid during a recent cold snap.

"We need to have a smart grid. That will save us huge amount of money, reduce emissions and produce a capacity to have baseload challenges met," Kerry said, adding that the U.S. is capable of substantially increasing the amount of renewable electricity it deploys.

However, he added, "we are going to have to get rid of some of our chauvinism and our parochial components that resist common sense and the need to move very hastily to get this done."

Kerry said the U.S. will unveil its new targets for emission cuts on April 22 at a summit of international leaders.

President Biden, who named Kerry as a special climate envoy, has undertaken a series of sweeping climate actions since taking office, including rejoining the Paris climate agreement, halting new leases for oil and gas extraction on federal land and canceling the construction permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Kerry's remarks at the CERAWeek conference came the same day The Wall Street Journal reported that the American Petroleum Institute, the nation's biggest oil lobbying organization, intends to endorse carbon pricing to reduce emissions. Over a decade ago, during the Obama administration, the group was one of the most vocal opponents of proposals to implement a cap-and-trade system for emissions.

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