US climate envoy John Kerry to leave the Biden administration

NEW DELHI: US Special Envoy on Climate, John Kerry, is set to leave the Biden administration in the upcoming weeks, according to sources familiar with his plans.
Kerry, who previously served as a senator and secretary of state, was appointed to the new role dedicated to combatting climate change on a global scale shortly after Joe Biden’s election in November 2020. Axios was the first to report on Kerry’s departure plans.
Being one of the key architects of the 2015 Paris climate accords, Kerry brought significant expertise to the role, having served as secretary of state during the Obama administration and as a long-time member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Biden’s decision to select Kerry was seen as a demonstration of his commitment to tackling climate change more aggressively and visibly than previous administrations.
“The climate crisis is a universal threat to humankind and we all have a responsibility to deal with it as rapidly as we can,” Kerry said to news agency AP in a visit to Beijing last summer, when he met with Vice President Han Zheng on climate matters.
Kerry’s involvement in international climate summits was characterized by an intense schedule, attending numerous meetings with world leaders, prominent business figures, and scientists. He frequently held press conferences to share insights, announce initiatives, and lend credibility to civil groups’ efforts to combat climate change.
His expertise allowed him to discuss a wide range of topics, from the urgent need for oil companies to reduce methane emissions to innovative ideas for financing green energy transitions in developing countries. He also actively addressed the issue of illegal fishing while engaging with leaders of Pacific Island nations.
“John Kerry’s tireless work to deliver global progress on the climate crisis has been heroic,” former Vice President Al Gore, who has focused primarily on climate in his post-public office life, said in a statement Saturday.
“He has approached this challenge with bold vision, resolute determination, and the urgency that this crisis demands. For that the US and the whole world owe him a huge debt of gratitude,” Al Gore added.
While Kerry’s reputation as a central figure in global climate discussions has earned him recognition, he does face criticism from those who argue that America’s climate policies lack true leadership in the fight against global warming. The Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate law in US history, allocates billions of dollars to renewable energy.
However, some argue that the emphasis on domestic production has led other nations to perceive the law as protectionist, potentially harming their own green industries. Additionally, the United States had long opposed the establishment of a “loss and damage” fund, which would require wealthy nations to contribute billions of dollars to assist developing countries severely impacted by climate change-induced extreme weather events.
The fund was finally approved during the COP27 in Egypt in 2022, as the US and other wealthy countries conceded and supported its creation. Kerry is quick to clarify that the fund is not intended for “reparations” or “compensation,” and currently, the US has only committed to providing modest funding.
Kerry, who represented Massachusetts in the Senate for 28 years and was the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, leaves behind a significant legacy in climate action. As he steps down from his role as the US special envoy on climate, the Biden administration will need to find a suitable replacement to carry forward the fight against climate change on the global stage.
(With AP input)
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