John Kerry Woos Wall Street in Bid to Bolster US Climate Finance

(Bloomberg) -- The top US climate diplomat is courting Wall Street in a bid to drive billions of dollars into clean energy initiatives around the globe amid lingering frustration wealthy nations have failed to provide a promised $100 billion in green finance for poor countries.

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John Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate change, told Bloomberg Television in an interview Wednesday that he is “working on a new approach to try to attract major capital to this task.”

Although banks and asset managers representing some $130 trillion of assets have pledged to meet Paris Agreement climate targets, too much of that capital is still sitting on the sidelines, Kerry suggested.

“There are plenty of companies around the world looking for deals, but they want bankable deals,” Kerry said. “And many of the climate initiatives are not yet bankable.”

Kerry’s remarks come about a month before the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, where tensions over green finance and compensation for climate-related disasters threaten to complicate negotiations.

The US and other wealthy nations responsible for much of the earth’s historic greenhouse gas emissions pledged in 2009 that by 2020 they’d collectively devote $100 billion annually to climate finance. But they have fallen short, with the US especially far behind. And President Joe Biden’s vow the US will provide $11.4 billion annually by 2024 faces an uncertain future in the US Congress, after lawmakers devoted just $1 billion to the effort in the current fiscal year.

Kerry suggested private capital could help fill some of the gap, as governments help derisk climate investments.

“We’re trying to raise some concessionary funds in a way that will allow us to help create the bankable deals,” Kerry said. By reducing risk, the government can help ”the investment money to feel comfortable that they’re ready to pull the trigger and make the investment.”

In a separate interview last week, Kerry said he was working to flesh out a new mechanism to attract capital to green initiatives before the UN summit. Kerry has been participating in meetings on the issue in New York.

“The United States’ credibility is on the line” when it comes to providing its promised $11.4 billion, Kerry said Wednesday. At the same time, he stressed, in the wake of the newly enacted climate law, the US is mobilizing $94 billion toward advanced energy technology, “and we don’t get credit for raising that.”

Before the COP27 summit, Kerry predicted, “I believe we will have a methodology that can help us attract capital, that will be concessionary and that can help to deploy some of the trillions of dollars.”

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