John Kerry, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, made a strong statement against coal-fired power plants at the COP28 climate conference in Dubai. Emphasizing the urgency of climate action, Kerry expressed increasing militancy about climate policy, particularly concerning the continued construction of coal power plants. He stated, “There shouldn’t be any more coal power plants permitted anywhere in the world.”
This declaration was made during the conference’s first “Health Day,” which aimed to underscore the link between climate and health crises. Kerry argued that the issues of climate change and public health are intrinsically connected, a message he has been advocating globally.
The backdrop to Kerry’s comments includes China’s ongoing expansion of its coal power sector. According to a report by Global Energy Monitor (GEM) and the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), China is significantly increasing its coal power capacity, with permits for an additional 52 gigawatts of coal power issued in the first half of 2023 alone.
Kerry’s role as the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, a position he has held since being nominated by President Joe Biden in November 2020, involves advocating for global climate initiatives and policies. His statements in Dubai reflect frustration over the slow pace of global action against climate change, particularly regarding the reliance on coal as an energy source.
He also applauded the Biden administration’s decision to contribute $3 billion to the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund (GCF), highlighting the fund’s role in facilitating energy transitions and supporting communities affected by climate change. This contribution, funded by U.S. taxpayers, is seen as part of the effort to mobilize significant capital for climate action on a global scale.
Kerry’s call for a worldwide halt on coal plant permits underlines the growing international pressure to transition away from fossil fuels to more sustainable energy sources, in order to address the climate crisis effectively.