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John Kerry Unveils America’s​ Plans for COP28

Here’s what the U.S. climate envoy will be focusing on.

John Kerry.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images
In a press conference on Wednesday morning, U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry previewed the three main issues the U.S. will be focused on “securing strong outcomes” for at COP28, the United Nations climate conference that kicks off tomorrow:

1. Acting on the global stocktake: Negotiators will discuss the results of the first 5-year assessment of global climate progress and how countries might make additional commitments. One of the main sticking points is sure to be language around reducing fossil fuels. Kerry reiterated that the U.S. supports requiring the “phase out of unabated fossil fuels,” which leaves room for the continued use of oil, gas, and coal, as long as the emissions are captured.

2. Standing up a new fund for loss and damage: Countries agreed at last year’s COP to set up a new fund to pay for the damages climate change is already causing around the world, but have yet to figure out who will oversee the fund, how much countries will pay into it, and how it will be administered. Kerry said the U.S. supports a proposal that was released earlier this month to house the fund at the World Bank for at least four years, and make financial commitments completely voluntary — provisions that the developing countries the fund is meant to support staunchly oppose.

“I think that it's important the fund does not represent any expression of liability or compensation or any legal requirements, but it is going to try to be there for those in the developing world who have taken some of the brunt,” he said.

3. Making progress on the Paris Agreement’s adaptation goal: While the Paris Agreement instructed signatories to “enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change worldwide,” countries haven’t yet decided how to turn that into a concrete goal.

Kerry also signaled that a new methane agreement would be announced that involves oil and gas companies in addition to countries. He said there “literally will be hundreds of initiatives” announced over the course of the conference, including many from the U.S.

“What is very clear to us, and we will be pushing this the next two weeks that we are negotiating, we have to move faster. There's too much business as usual still, we have got to bring people to the table who are not yet there, and we will make progress in that here.”

This first appeared in Heatmap AM, a briefing on the most important climate and energy news. Sign up to get it in your inbox every week day:

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  • Emily Pontecorvo

    Emily is a founding staff writer at Heatmap. Previously she was a staff writer at the nonprofit climate journalism outlet Grist, where she covered all aspects of decarbonization, from clean energy to electrified buildings to carbon dioxide removal. Read More

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