Kerry touts ‘enormous progress’ toward U.N. deal

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2015

Secretary of State John Kerry said today the administration has learned from the mistakes of the past and is laying the groundwork for a “durable” climate agreement in Paris.

Speaking at a climate and clean energy event for private-sector stakeholders at the State Department, Kerry said his aim in working for last year’s bilateral agreement with China — which is seen to have injected new life into the United Nations negotiations — was to “try to change what prompted the failure in Copenhagen.”

The 2009 U.N. talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, failed to yield an agreement, he said, because of a “great divergence between developed and developing countries.”

“Since then, we have made, actually, enormous progress,” he said.

Under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, only developed countries traditionally were asked to make binding emissions commitments while developing countries took voluntary measures. But in a joint agreement with the United States last year, China for the first time agreed to cap its emissions no later than 2030. Since then, it has also pledged climate aid and announced the creation of an economywide cap-and-trade program, among other measures.

“And yet we know, even going into Paris, it will not get the job done,” Kerry told the gathering of clean energy, efficiency and carbon-reduction specialists.

He went on to tout the importance of private-sector involvement in emissions reduction, including innovations in grid technology, renewable energy deployment and efficiency.

Kerry spoke as the two-day event began. Co-sponsored by the State Department, Georgetown University and Google, the conference will feature a keynote speech tomorrow by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Also today, Kerry rolled out a $10 million initiative by the U.S. Agency for International Development to promote energy efficiency and low-carbon energy in the Caribbean and Central America.

“We know that our neighbors in the Caribbean and Central America have an abundance of renewable energy resources yet they suffer from electricity shortages and high prices,” Kerry said in a statement. “Our goal is to find ways to accelerate collaboration across borders and sectors and I assure you, we in this administration want to help move you forward, not hold you back, not stand in your way.”