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John Kerry Says Major Climate Focus Must Be On Coal Dependent Nations



November 19, 2021 - Faster action is needed to move coal-dependent nations to less-polluting alternatives and keep global emissions reductions on track, according to US climate envoy John Kerry.

“We have to start where the greatest amount of emissions are if we’re going to win the battle,” Kerry told the Bloomberg New Economy Forum Friday. “We have to, all of us, be able to put the deals together that will phase out their coal fast.”

Nations including Russia, India, Mexico, South Africa and Brazil are a focus for US climate diplomacy, and the agreement struck this month between China and the US will assist Beijing’s plans to reduce coal consumption from 2026, he said. Efforts include both encouraging the adoption of more renewables and the use of gas as a transition fuel.

“Coal is the primary culprit today in warming the planet, and in polluting the air and in creating the intensity of storms that comes with increased moisture that rises from the oceans,” Kerry said, speaking via videolink.

The COP26 pact agreed this month in Glasgow by almost 200 countries disappointed with a weaker approach to phasing out coal, concessions on carbon market rules and a lack of ambition on financial support for developing nations. Action on fossil fuels was included for the first time, while there were also agreements on methane curbs and pledges for nations to strengthen commitments on emissions reduction -- known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs --- over the coming year.

More attention must be focused on nations that haven’t offered new NDCs, and on nations that will be “putting more emissions into the atmosphere over the course of the next number of years,” Kerry said. India is among countries that haven’t yet submitted an updated NDC.

Richer nations will meet the $100-billion target for climate support to developing nations, though that figure remains “peanuts,” compared to what’s necessary, Kerry said. Six investment banks including Goldman Sachs Group and Morgan Stanley are ready to invest more than $4-trillion in the energy transition over the next decade, while others including BlackRock Inc will add further funds.

“We have to find a way to deploy that money,” Kerry told the forum. “Countries bear a responsibility to also step up and make sure that they have the transparency.”