US climate envoy reflects on recent agreement and what comes next


The agreement that 198 nations reached this week transition away from fossil fuels It is “the most important decision since the Paris agreement” of 2015, John Kerry, President Biden's special envoy for climate change, said Friday.

The global agreement reached in Dubai at the annual U.N. climate summit was the first time in nearly three decades that diplomats have been grappling with climate change that they were willing to name its fundamental culprit: the burning of coal. oil and gas.

After two weeks of hard-fought negotiations in which nations deeply vulnerable to climate disasters urged a complete “phase out” of fossil fuels, and major oil exporters led by Saudi Arabia refused to even consider such language, governments landed on a compromise.

The final agreement calls for “transitioning away from fossil fuels” this decade in a “fair, orderly and equitable manner,” while tripling renewable energy such as wind and solar.

“I think the 'transition' offered a way for certain parties to feel that they were somehow being heard and that their concerns were being addressed, because there was a complete refusal from various quarters to not accept a phase-out,” Kerry said. he said in an interview Friday.

Many island nations criticized the final agreement, saying it does not go far enough. But Kerry said the willingness of countries — even those that are big oil exporters — to recognize that the fossil fuel era must eventually come to an end underscores the “urgency” of the deal.

“This agreement is the most important decision since the Paris Agreement”Kerry said, referring to the historic 2015 climate agreement. “It's based on the unanimity with which people said we're going to move forward. “We are going to transition away from fossil fuels.”

Not everyone is convinced. Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's energy minister, said in an interview with Al Arabiya, a Saudi-owned television network, that the deal would not affect his country's ability to sell its crude oil.

Sultan Al Jaber, the Emirati oil executive who chaired the climate summit, known as COP28, told The Guardian in an interview that the United Arab Emirates' national oil company would also continue to invest in oil.

Kerry insisted that these statements do not point to gaps in the climate agreement.

“Can you sell your crude oil today, tomorrow, next week, next year?” Mr. Kerry said. “Sure.”

But, he added, “they are going to have, like everyone else, to make a transition away from fossil fuels.”

“You can speak out boldly and say: Yes, we will continue to make some investments,” Kerry said. “But if people do what they have agreed to do, the effort will become less and less over time. And there will be more and more investments destined for clean and renewable energy.”

Kerry said the fight to control climate change will require addressing the world's growing thirst for oil and gas. In the United States, oil production is arisingand the Biden administration faces a looming decision on whether to expand its liquefied natural gas exports.

Kerry noted that the Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed last year, committed to investing $370 billion in clean energy sources over 10 years. He also included incentives to encourage people to drive electric vehicles, put solar panels on roofs and bolster renewable energy efforts across the country.

The transition to renewable energy “is not going to magically happen because everyone sits there and does business as usual,” Kerry said. “The current situation has to change.”

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