Essay by Eric Worrall
Could this be the worst diplomatic embarrassment John Kerry has ever inflicted on the United States? Even worse than shaking hands with an accused narco-terrorist?
Split Between Rich and Poor Nations Deadlocks Climate Talks
Debate intensified over a contentious issue — the creation of a fund to help poor and vulnerable countries pay for “loss and damage” caused by climate change.
By Max Bearak, Brad Plumer and Lisa Friedman
Nov. 18, 2022 Updated 1:27 p.m. ET SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt
The United States, historically the world’s biggest polluter, has resisted the idea of compensation for climate-related disasters, fearing it could face unlimited liability. But the country stood increasingly isolated on Friday after the European Union and a vocal group of developing countries had backed different plans to establish a new fund as early as this year.
John Kerry, President Biden’s special envoy for climate change, spent Friday out of the public eye, and the State Department did not comment publicly on the latest proposals.
“The U.S. is a key obstacle,” Susana Muhamad, Colombia’s environment minister, said. Without American support, “the conversation here cannot evolve,” she said. “It is taking up all the air at the conference.”
Last week, Mr. Kerry said the United States recognized “the responsibility” to channel more money to countries experiencing climate disasters. …
This is John Kerry’s fault. In the leadup to COP27, Kerry went around giving everyone the impression that the USA supports paying money to Pakistan or whatever because of America’s imaginary climate liabilities, then he goes and does a disappearing act when delegates demand some actual cash.
Like someone showing up to a restaurant, telling everyone they’re going to pay for dinner, then hiding in the toilet when the bill arrives.
Kerry was quoted by NYT as responding “Not a lot of people I know want to sign off on something that’s not even fully defined”. But that isn’t washing with delegates, who at this stage are just seeking a firm commitment of financial backing for the claims process.
Let me be clear, I do not believe the USA has any obligation to pay anyone. Every one of those delegates uses the products of US industry. But Kerry’s diplomatic incompetence has created an expectation. The failure to fulfil that expectation has made the USA look bad on the world stage.