January 24, 2022
Special Envoy for Climate, United States of America
His Excellency Sameh Shoukry
Minister of Foreign Affairs and COP27 President Designate, Arab Republic of Egypt
Suzanne P. Clark
President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
This year, 2022, marks one century of diplomatic ties between the United States and Egypt, a significant milestone as both countries address the pressing issues of climate change together. In preparation for the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27) in Egypt and to strengthen both the public and private sector’s efforts on domestic and global climate change, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently hosted “Building Momentum to UN COP27.”
In a fireside chat with Suzanne Clark, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber, John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, and Sameh Shoukry, minister of foreign affairs and COP27 president-designate for the Arab Republic of Egypt, shared the top priorities for U.S.-Egypt climate solutions and what needs to change to meet our global goals.
The Current Climate Change Outlook Is Negative, But It Can Be Turned Around
Kerry believes the world is “in trouble” when it comes to making headway on combating climate change. While this lack of success is something the United States, Egypt and the world can turn around, it is still a cause for concern and urgency, he said.
Kerry notes that there's been progress with The Paris Agreement and increased transparency within the private sector on climate issues, but there is more to be done.
“You've got to try to target earnestly to keep the Earth's warming at 1.5 degrees because we're already [arriving at] tipping points,” Kerry explained. “We need to be compelled as human beings [and] as leaders, particularly, to respond to this.”
The U.S. And Egypt Need Commitments From the Private Sector
One recurring issue that both Kerry and Shoukry discussed was the need to get the private sector invested in climate change. They both pointed out that it is not concessionary funding, it's an investment for the future.
“[Having private funding] is truly important in maintaining the sustainability of the finance discussion,” said Shoukry. “It is necessary for us to act and rely on sustainable and predictable finance[s] if we are to move forward.”
Becoming Less Reliant on Coal and Gas
Despite efforts to move towards cleaner sources of energy, coal is still prominently used to power the world. In fact, Kerry noted, coal usage went up 6% in the last months of 2021.
As one of the most environmentally harmful fuel sources on the planet, coal is the root cause of many issues associated with climate change, and it’s crucial to cut its usage.
“The fact is coal is responsible principally for … the warming of the ocean,” said Kerry. “Most countries have the ability to deploy … additional amounts of renewables and they're not choosing to do that. They're moving towards gas, [which] is a bridge fuel [and] can be helpful in this transition.”
“Gas is going to be important to the transition, but if we move too fast and too far with too much and build out an infrastructure for 30 or 40 years … we’ll be in trouble,” Kerry added.