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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Climate change: Group decries Kerry’s ‘No to Reparations’ comment

The North America Director, 350.org, Jeff Ordower, has tackled U.S. presidential envoy for climate, John Kerry, over his comments during a congressional hearing on Thursday, July 13, 2023, that “under no circumstances“ would the United States pay climate reparations to developing countries hit by climate-fueled disaster. Kerry’s remarks were part of a hearing on the State Department’s climate agenda.

John Kerry
John Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate, testifies during a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability hearing. Photo credit: Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Kerry’s comments comes at a time when countries acutely vulnerable to climate-fueled disasters are pushing for wealthy nations – that have the greatest historic responsibility for the climate crisis – to pay for past greenhouse gas emissions.

A so-called loss and damage fund was established at the annual U.N. climate summit last year. The groundbreaking agreement seeks to compensate low-income countries for the losses and damages they’re experiencing as it becomes harder for many people to live safely on a warming planet.

It remains unclear, however, exactly how much richer countries will pay into the fund. The issue of climate reparations is highly divisive and emotive, and is seen as a fundamental question of climate justice.

Asked during a hearing before a House of Representatives foreign affairs oversight subcommittee on Thursday whether he intended for the U.S. to pay climate reparations, Kerry replied, “No, under no circumstances.”

But Ordower, in a reaction, said however that the group is “disappointed and angered by this news, but not surprised“.

His words: “This is because U.S. Climate Enjoy John Kerry’s words are just the latest example of Kerry and the U.S. refusing to back up their vague claims for U.S. support in global climate progress with real, substantive action. We were cautiously optimistic that COP27 had opened the door for real progress on loss and damage, and for wealthier Global North nations – like the U.S., which is one of the largest emitters globally and bears the largest responsibility for accelerating climate chaos across the globe – to help pay for the disproportionate and irreparable harm to Global South communities.

“Again and again, Kerry and Biden have tried to walk a tightrope of limited culpability: they talk a big game about ‘interconnected nations’ and ‘the need for a fossil fuel phasedown,’ but then when it comes time to create actual mechanisms or pay into funds for damage, adaptation, and reparations, or put their words into practice that might actually be meaningful for the Global South communities facing historic and deadline climate impacts every day, they shy away.

“350.org will not stop advocating for U.S. leadership that truly takes accountability for our outsized global role in the climate crisis. That includes loss and damage. That includes climate reparations. That includes actual sacrifice and action that reflects the reality that our reluctance to stop catering to fossil fuel profit has jeopardised the lives of millions, if not billions.”

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