Kerry Headed to India, U.A.E. for Climate Talks
U. S. climate envoy John Kerry is planning to travel to India and the United Arab Emirates in the coming days to increase the Biden administration’s pursuit of deeper international commitments to address climate change, according to people familiar with the matter.
The trip comes ahead of an international climate summit President Biden is hosting next month and at a time when world leaders are preparing to negotiate new commitments for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr. Kerry is planning to announce the trip Wednesday, according to two of the people. Many of the details are still being sorted, but travel could start as soon as this weekend, one of the people said.
Mr. Kerry is expected to arrive in Abu Dhabi at the end of the week, a person familiar with the details of the visit said. In Abu Dhabi, he is expected to join a regional discussion on climate to take place on April 4. All countries in the Middle East and North Africa region have been invited to join, including Qatar, the person said.
This would be Mr. Kerry’s second international trip after meeting this month with allies in Europe. It will be his first trip to Asia, a major source of greenhouse-gas emissions and a common focus of international efforts to address climate change.
The administration is making India an early stop because it is the world’s third-largest emitter of the gasses that contribute to climate change, and is also seen as a more amicable partner at a time of friction with China, the world’s biggest emitter. India’s energy demand is likely to soar in the coming years, but the country’s economy is still heavily tied to coal, one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases.
Abu Dhabi is a common stop for U.S. diplomats in transit to India, and Mr. Kerry has already made the longtime U.S. ally an early source of his attention.
In a tweet from Jan. 31 he announced that he had spoken with the U.A.E.’s climate envoy and planned further collaboration with the country on technology, investment and leadership in the Middle East.
The State Department declined to comment.
Qatar’s upcoming participation in the climate talks in Abu Dhabi marks the first time that Doha has been invited to such a discussion since Saudi Arabia took steps to end a yearslong regional blockade of the Gulf nation earlier this year. The bitter feud fractured the Middle East and hampered U.S. efforts to isolate Iran under the Trump administration.
Mr. Kerry has been eager to push negotiations on climate change despite broader diplomatic friction, saying the issue is an existential threat that must be addressed with international collaboration even by countries in conflict. Last week he joined his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, at a virtual climate conference even on the heels of talks the week before in Alaska between senior American and Chinese foreign-affairs officials who sniped openly over human rights, aggression against other countries and the U.S. role in the world.
Mr. Biden has assigned Mr. Kerry, a former secretary of state, a first-of-its-kind role in the White House as the country rejoins international climate accords that former President Donald Trump had exited.
Under the Paris agreement, which Mr. Kerry helped negotiate, countries are urged to ratchet up their emissions-reduction commitments every five years, with the next deadline for that set for later this year.
By Timothy Puko and Jessica Donati