U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said he thinks coal plants should not be “permitted anywhere in the world.”
During a speech at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Kerry said he is becoming “more and more” militant about climate policy because people are avoiding responsibility.
“We don’t need that necessarily to tell us we ought to be transitioning out of coal,” Kerry said about the pollution from coal plants. “There shouldn’t be any more coal power plants permitted anywhere in the world.”
“That’s how you can do something for health,” he added. “And the reality is that we’re not doing it.”
Kerry spoke at the conference during the first-ever dedicated “Health Day,” which intended to highlight the connections between the climate crisis and health crises. He said the climate crisis and health crisis are one and the same.
Kerry is serving as the first U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, and was nominated by President Biden in November 2020.
He said he is becoming more militant about coal plants because he does not “understand how adults who are in positions of responsibility can be avoiding responsibility for taking away those things that are killing people on a daily basis.”
Kerry visited China in July to speak with leaders about the country’s pollution. China is currently the world’s largest emitter of planet-warming gasses, and the U.S. is the second. Kerry’s visit was largely unsuccessful, and he said “we are going to need a little more work” to “break new ground” with China on combatting climate change.
Biden has decided to skip this year’s climate summit for the first time in his presidency. His decision to miss the conference drew criticism from activists, but experts say his absence isn’t likely to impact any outcome at the summit.