U.S. envoy Kerry says Biden committed to meeting climate finance goal

by Megan Rowling | @meganrowling | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 20 July 2021 17:29 GMT

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John Kerry says rich countries must meet a promise to mobilise $100 billion a year for poorer nations to tackle climate change, before November's COP26 talks in Glasgow

By Megan Rowling

July 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - U.S. President Joe Biden is committed to ensuring rich countries will deliver a promised $100 billion a year in climate finance to help poorer nations adopt clean energy and adapt to a warmer planet, his special climate envoy said on Tuesday.

In a speech at London's Kew Gardens, John Kerry said he had personally spoken to Biden about the unmet pledge, made at U.N. climate talks in 2009 and due to kick in annually from 2020.

Biden had indicated his "complete, total commitment to helping to make that ($100 billion) happen", Kerry added.

Green groups and climate finance experts have urged Washington to step up and give its fair share of financial support for developing nations that historically have done relatively little to cause global warming.

Britain, which will host a key U.N. climate conference in Scotland in November, has repeatedly said fulfilling the climate finance promise will be pivotal to securing the trust of emerging economies and persuading them to step up efforts to cut their own emissions.

The latest figures show nearly $80 billion was counted towards the goal in 2018, with a separate U.N.-commissioned report saying it was likely missed in 2020 amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Kerry did not put new U.S. money on the table on Tuesday.

Instead he repeated a promise made by Biden in April that the United States would triple its support by 2024 for poorer countries to adapt to climate change impacts, as part of a broader commitment to double its international climate finance to about $5.7 billion a year by then.

"It is a fundamental matter of equity and fairness that we respond to those for whom the climate crisis is imminently existential," Kerry said in a speech.

"And we are working with our partners to further strengthen our collective support for the Paris finance agreements and commitments by the time we reach Glasgow."

Kerry said he expected the $100-billion-a-year commitment - expected to be increased starting from 2025 - to be part of discussions later this week when G20 climate and environment ministers meet in Italy.

At June's G7 summit, Biden had talked about the issue with leaders and laid out "a conjectural figure but a serious one", Kerry said in response to a question, without giving details.

"I believe we are going to find a way to do it - we have to do it," he said, adding he did not know when a breakthrough would be made but suggested it might be by the time of the U.N. general assembly in September.

The deadline for delivering the new finance commitment would be the COP26 talks, he noted, but "if we don't have it well before Glasgow, it will affect the Glasgow dynamic, I think."

If the developed world fails to come up with the promised money, "it's going to be exceedingly hard to get any kind of broad-based agreement" on climate action that would allow the world to meet the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, he added.

He noted that during the four-year presidency of Donald Trump - who doubted climate science, supported fossil fuel use and set no policy to tackle global warming - the U.S. government had ducked its promises on climate finance.

"There has to be good faith by everybody here - and we're not exempt from that," Kerry said.

(Reporting by Megan Rowling @meganrowling; editing by Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate)

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