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Friday, June 24, 2022

Kerry cites progress on Sino-US climate grouping in Davos

by Peter Prangman

DAVOS, Switzerland ( Associated Press) – The US and China are making progress on bringing together a group of countries to work to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, John Kerry, the top US official on climate change, said on Tuesday. are doing.

In an interview with the Associated Press during the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Kerry said the two countries, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, were close to agreeing on the group’s structure and how decisions would be made.

“We’re going to work on the practicalities of how we go faster,” Carey said. “Maybe we can help with some kind of technology to help China move faster. Maybe China can help us better understand some of the things we could have done better.”

The agreement was signed last year during the United Nations Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland. For the first time, China has agreed to act on the highly potent greenhouse gas methane leak. On Tuesday, Kerry said reducing coal consumption would also be a central area of ​​focus for the group.

The progress report came as government officials, corporate leaders and other elites at the World Economic Forum grappled with how to cope with climate change and its devastating effects. A central question was: To what extent could oil and gas companies be part of the transition to low-carbon fuels?

At different times the question may have been academic, critics of the stage, like the one that takes place in a tony ski village in the Swiss Alps, say it had no relevance to the real world. But today, the question is both practical and urgent, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced many countries that depend on Russian oil and gas to make rapid changes to energy supplies.

This debate has come to the fore in which the acutely felt effects of climate change have been multiplied, from recent heat waves in Southeast Asia to flooding in parts of South America. Are included. Meanwhile, the world’s top climate scientists have repeatedly warned that increased investment in fossil fuels is less likely to limit warming to 1.5 C (2.7 F), and thereby avoid even more devastating impacts. could.

Kerry, International Energy Agency chief Fatih Birol and several European officials argued Tuesday that the war in Ukraine should not be used as an excuse to focus on renewable energy goals.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned that the 27-nation bloc should never again depend on unreliable countries, as was the case with fossil fuels from Russia, as it moves towards a greener economy.

She said that “economies of the future” will no longer be dependent on oil and coal, but rather on other materials such as the green and digital transition lithium, silicon metals or rare earth permanent magnets that are essential for batteries, chips, electric vehicles, and other materials. or wind turbine.

“We must avoid falling into the same trap as oil and gas,” she said. “We should not replace the old dependency with the new one.”

Von der Leyen said the war in Ukraine strengthened Europe’s determination to rapidly rid itself of Russian fossil fuels. EU countries have approved a ban on coal imports from Russia, but member states have not yet received an agreement on sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas.

Attendees at Davos this week were also discussing a number of other high-priority issues, such as the Russo-Ukraine war, the threat of increasing hunger around the world, inequality and the continuing health crisis.

It also included Turkey’s push for Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership. Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Havisto said in Davos that a delegation from her country and Sweden would travel to the Turkish capital on Wednesday for talks.

Havisto and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg both said in separate remarks to the gathering that they believed they could allay Turkey’s concerns which it sees as supporting those groups in Finland and Sweden. whom he considers terrorists.

“We have to do what we always do in NATO, and that is to sit down and address the concerns when allies do raise concerns,” Stoltenberg said.

But even in discussions of those issues, climate change was often present, as was tensions over what role oil and gas companies might play in the transition to green energy. Davos represented one of the largest platforms to discuss climate change ahead of the next UN climate summit in Egypt in November.

Vicki Holb, CEO of Occidental Petroleum, a major oil company, said the oil and gas industries had a central role in the transition to renewable energy.

Instead of talking about moving away from fossil fuels, Holb said the focus should be on making fossil fuels cleaner by reducing emissions. It said Occidental had invested heavily in wind and solar power and planned to build the largest direct air capture facility in the world in the Permian Basin. Direct air capture is a process that takes carbon dioxide out of the air and pressurizes it deep into the ground.

“America can provide enough resources to the rest of the world. However, it is becoming more and more difficult to do so because of the fact that we are facing a lot of adversities,” she said on Monday. “One is the belief that we can end oil and gas use as soon as possible.”

Joe Manchin, a US senator from West Virginia who has opposed a major climate change bill proposed by President Joe Biden, said on Monday that fossil fuels were key to ensuring energy security, and that the US has no such opportunity for the world. There were resources to help ensure safety.

“We can’t do this except for the fossil fuel industry,” Manchin, a Democrat, said, adding that no transition can happen until the alternatives are fully worked out.

Many energy experts argue that viable alternatives already exist. For example, in recent decades the cost of wind and solar has decreased significantly while the efficiencies of both have increased dramatically. At the same time, other new technologies have shown promise but require massive investment to develop.

Kerry said in the interview that he is still hopeful that climate change legislation in Congress is still possible. There is neither any progress nor any movement from the Biden administration.

“When you’re a legislator, hope is born forever,” Kerry said. “You’re always working to try to get votes to do something.”

Asked if he planned to step down soon, as some have speculated because Congress has clearly stalled on climate legislation, Kerry said no.

“No one will stay in one job forever, right?” Kerry asked. “But I don’t plan to move on. I’m working toward COP (in Egypt) and we’ll see what happens.”


Associated Press journalists Calvin Chan and Jamie Keaton in Davos, Dana Beltazi in London and Samuel Petrequin in Brussels contributed to this report.


Peter Prengman is the Associated Press’s director of global climate and environmental news and can be followed at: twitter.com/peterprengman


Associated Press climate and environmental coverage is supported by a number of private foundations. See more about Associated Press’s climate initiative here. Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.

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