The US climate envoy has hit out at industry claims that the world must extract more fossil fuels to solve the energy crisis sparked by the Ukraine war.
Speaking on the eve of the UN climate conference COP27 in Egypt, John Kerry said that while countries should be able to strike a deal in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, the military conflict was complicating the challenge.
“There are people within the fossil fuel industry who are using the crisis in Ukraine, frankly, as leverage to be able to say ‘we need to be pumping a lot more, we’re moving much too fast’,” said Mr Kerry.
He said: “It’s just not true, it’s not an accurate narrative.”
As gas prices have soared since Russia squeezed supplies in response to sanctions over its war in Ukraine, the fossil fuel lobby pushed for more extraction of the polluting oil and gas to boost energy security.
But almost every country in the world has committed to transitioning to clean power like renewables and nuclear in order to curb climate breakdown.
Major economies like the EU, US and Japan have accelerated that shift in the last year.
Mr Kerry said, however, that countries were realising they needed to reduce their dependence on oil and gas as a source of energy.
“Many countries in Europe – most of them in fact – have applied the lesson of this war, which is don’t allow a petro-dictator to hold you hostage to energy, don’t let them weaponise it against you,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
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He resisted the taboo idea of industrialised, polluting countries “compensating” developing countries for climate breakdown – an issue known as ‘loss and damage’ – but urged those with greater means to “step up and help in this transition”.
“We don’t view it – and we’re not going to view it – as compensation. We are going to view it as our efforts to try to help countries to adapt, to be able to become more resilient and obviously address the challenges that they face as a result of the losses and damages.”
Mr Kerry, who served as US secretary of state in Barack Obama’s administration, told Sky News last month it would be “very powerful” if King Charles attended COP27.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is attending the event in Egypt next week after a U-turn but King Charles, a committed environmentalist when he was Prince Charles, will miss it.
Speaking at a reception hosted by the King in the Buckingham Palace ballroom on Friday, Mr Sunak said: “As recent events have shown, delivering on the promise of Glasgow is more important than ever.
“If we do not act today, we will risk leaving an ever more desperate inheritance for our children.”
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