US climate envoy John Kerry to visit Saudi Arabia

Visit comes before Cop26 in Scotland amid stalled legislation to fight climate change in US Senate

US climate envoy John Kerry will visit Saudi Arabia next week before Cop26 in Scotland, which is scheduled to begin on October 31.

The State Department announced on Thursday that Mr Kerry would travel to Riyadh to “engage with government counterparts and private sector leaders on efforts to address the climate crisis".

While there, Mr Kerry will participate in the Middle East Green Initiative Summit that the kingdom is convening on Monday.

Mr Kerry last visited Saudi Arabia in July, when he met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following a trip to the UAE.

Prince Mohammed launched the Middle East Green Initiative in April as part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 programme to reform its economy.

The US climate envoy has been travelling to key carbon-emitting countries throughout the year in a bid to convince them to set ambitious carbon reduction targets before the UN conference in Glasgow.

But Mr Kerry recently expressed fear that the world would fall short of the emissions reduction targets needed to keep global warming below the 1.5°C threshold.

“By the time Glasgow’s over, we’re going to know who is doing their fair share and who isn’t,” Mr Kerry said in an interview with The Associated Press.

He characterised the Glasgow summit as “the last, best chance” for the world to commit to keeping warming from exceeding 1.5°C.

President Joe Biden announced in April that the US — the world’s second biggest carbon emitter after China — would seek to halve its emissions over 2005 levels by 2030.

However, legislation that is key to achieving that goal is currently stalled in the Senate amid opposition from two conservative Democrats within the president’s own party.

Democrat Joe Manchin, who has personal and political ties to the coal industry in his home state of West Virginia, has come out in opposition to the $150 billion Clean Electricity Performance Programme and other provisions in the president’s proposed $3.5 trillion spending package on social and environmental programmes.

Updated: October 21st 2021, 6:22 PM