US climate envoy John Kerry declared building and financing coal power plants as “irresponsible,” citing “greed” as a major obstacle to climate action. Speaking at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, Kerry emphasized that it is now deemed irresponsible to support or construct coal-fired power plants globally, dismissing the notion of “clean coal.”
Kerry criticized the prevailing “business as usual” mindset in various parts of the world, including the United States, urging a serious shift away from coal. He highlighted the urgency of addressing climate change and stressed the need to move forward on the coal front.
Referring to recent discussions with China, Kerry offered limited details but expressed optimism about finding common ground on “reducing emissions and the direction we have to go.” He considered these talks crucial in laying the groundwork for the upcoming COP28 meeting in the UAE, which he deemed “absolutely critical” to preserving the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The COP26 meeting two years ago resulted in an agreement to “phase-down unabated coal power,” focusing on capturing emissions before they are released into the atmosphere. The future of fossil fuels, especially coal, is anticipated to be a central topic at the forthcoming COP28 meeting.
China, responsible for over half of the world’s coal supply, recently achieved a new record in domestic coal production. Kerry’s discussions with his Chinese counterpart were described as productive, with a degree of agreement on emissions reduction.
Addressing the contentious issues to be discussed at COP28, Kerry acknowledged that oil and gas participation is critical in the battle against climate change. Among the debated subjects is the establishment of a “loss and damage fund” to compensate the poorest nations dealing with climate change consequences. The United States, along with other developed countries, has expressed caution about the fund’s size but committed to contributing “several millions of dollars.”
Despite extensive negotiations, a draft proposal outlining the fund’s structure was agreed upon last week, suggesting the World Bank as a temporary home. Kerry’s announcement provided insight into Washington’s willingness to support the fund, signaling progress in charting a way forward.