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U.S. climate envoy Kerry outlines carbon offset initiative for developing nations


John Kerry, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate speaks as he attends the opening of the American Pavilion in the COP27 climate summit in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt November 8, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry on Sunday outlined core principles for a “high-integrity” carbon offset plan meant to help developing nations speed their energy transition, and next steps including establishing a consultative group.

The Energy Transition Accelerator (ETA), first announced at last year’s COP27 climate conference, is being developed by the United States with the Bezos Earth Fund and the Rockefeller Foundation to mobilise private capital.

Kerry told the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi the aim was to create bankable deals to accelerate reduction of emissions, stressing that the ETA was not a substitute for other funding sources and would be time-limited.

“We believe you can have high-integrity, accountable, transparent credit which will help us to be able to put some money on the table,” he said, acknowledging widespread criticism of voluntary carbon offset schemes.

Such schemes, in which companies get emissions credits in return for channelling cash to poor countries that cut their carbon output, have often been riddled with fraud and double-counting.

“There are only two purposes for which we will allow someone to be able to buy a credit – one, to be closing down or transitioning existing fossil fuel facility that is providing power, and two, for the actual deployment of renewables that will replace current dirty sourcing,” Kerry said.

He said ETA principles also called for a near-term, inclusive and comprehensive approach to deliver on broader sustainable development goals and support power sector-wide energy transition.

The Rockefeller Foundation on Sunday published a joint statement with a preliminary list of members of the ETA High-Level Consultative Group which Kerry said would provide a broad cross section of input and would add more participants.