Kerry to stay on as Biden's top climate diplomat

John Kerry will stay in his role as President Joe Biden’s special climate envoy at least through this year’s United Nations climate talks set for December in Dubai, ending speculation that the United States’ top climate change diplomat may soon depart.

Kerry recently informed Biden of his decision to stay in his post, he told The Boston Globe in a story published Sunday evening. “There’s sufficient unfinished business that I felt it would be inappropriate to walk away from that at this point in time,” Kerry said.

A State Department spokesperson confirmed the news that Kerry will stay on through the COP28 climate meeting, where nations will hold a “global stocktake” to assess the gap between their progress in combating climate change and the goals of the Paris climate agreement to keep temperatures “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Countries also will begin laying the stakes for climate finance pledges beyond 2025 at the Dubai conference.

Kerry’s relationship with his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, has been a rare bright spot between the United States and China. Kerry has sought to carve out a separate lane to discuss climate with China, the world’s top emitter. He told The Boston Globe those talks have been paused for the past and was informed that Xie had been ill with Covid-19.

The future of natural gas and oil is sure to color the upcoming climate talks amid rising energy costs, energy security concerns stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the UAE’s role as a major hydrocarbon producer.

The decision to stay in his current role, however, will also open Kerry up to investigations by the Republican-led House, with House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) already requesting documents and communication from Kerry’s office. Kerry told the Globe “we have nothing to hide.”

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