John Kerry Refuses to Feel “Guilty” for Climate Change

There have been numerous proposals, though, to fund loss and damage internationally without relying on congressional approval here. “People [outside the U.S.] understand the U.S. political system just as well as you guys do because our fate is tied up with it half the time,” Yamin said. This week, U.N chief António Guterres expressed support for imposing a windfall tax on fossil fuel companies to fund loss and damage. Others have suggested that the International Monetary Fund—a body in which the U.S. enjoys outsize power—issue another round of Special Drawing Rights by way of meeting climate finance needs, and that the U.S. redistribute the hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of SDRs currently sitting on its books. Experts have also suggested debt-for-climate swaps, which would provide debt relief for poorer countries in exchange for their investments in climate mitigation, adaptation, and recovery.  

COP27 begins in just a little over six weeks. Yamin still hopes for the U.S. to play a more positive role on loss and damage. The same day Kerry spouted off, Denmark became the first wealthy nation to pledge money to loss and damage. 

The least the U.S. could do, however, would be to allow loss and damage conversations to take place and move forward, instead of aggressively silencing them like Kerry tried to on Tuesday and U.S. negotiators have, historically, at U.N. climate talks. “Our countries are up to our ears in debt. Our leaders are not even able to speak up because they’re depending on the next tranche of bailouts,” Yamin said, referring to poorer countries’ fear of creditor retaliation if they speak up about inequity. “The degree of insensitivity—it’s disrespectful frankly.… I’m being told I don’t understand reality. Whose reality are you pretending not to understand right now?”