Focus on climate, Kerry says as international attention turns to Ukraine

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U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry gestures during a news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, in Cairo

By Aidan Lewis

CAIRO – Tackling climate change is a security threat that requires accelerated action even as international attention is focussed on Russia and Ukraine, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said on Monday during a visit to Cairo.

Egypt will host the COP27 climate conference in November and Kerry said the task for this year was to bring more countries, including Russia and China, on board to set ambitious climate goals, as well as implementing pledges made at COP26 in Glasgow.

Kerry, a former secretary of state, said the crisis between Russia and Ukraine made him concerned over issues such as the principles of international law and respect for borders.

“But I am concerned in terms of the climate efforts that a war is the last thing you need with respect to a united effort to try to deal with the climate challenge,” Kerry told Reuters.

“Obviously we hope that we can compartmentalise, but it’s just made that much more difficult without any question.”

After meeting Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who will chair COP27, Kerry told reporters that climate change was a “national, international security threat to all of us.”

Egypt and the United States have created a working group to set priorities for COP27 and to support Egypt’s energy transition, Shoukry and Kerry said.

Egypt has set a goal of generating 42% of its power from renewables by 2030, though experts have suggested the target could be more ambitious. The government is preparing a new strategy for 2050.


Kerry cited work to help provide finance and technology to Indonesia, and to support China in accelerating its reduction of coal consumption, as examples of a push to secure new commitments ahead of COP27.

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But he also said the energy transition had not reached the speed required. “We’re not moving fast enough, not enough is happening.”

Asked about the risk that companies “greenwash” their activities with net-zero announcements, Kerry said rules agreed in Glasgow to ensure transparency would help, as would satellites tracking carbon and methane emissions.

“We have accountability that we’ve really never had before, and we have to make sure we’re applying it,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Sherif Fahmy; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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