John Kerry, in his new role of Special Presidential Envoy for Climate for the Biden Administration, stated that the U.S. intends to make ‘significant investments’ in climate action, as the country looks to catch up from its “absence of the last four years.” In remarks made at the international online Climate Adaptation Summit (CAS) 2021, Kerry stated that President Biden has made fighting climate change a top priority of his administration.

Biden sent a clear signal last week that fighting climate change would be a key focus for the new administration, signing an executive order to return the U.S. to the Paris Agreement as one of his first actions in office. The action fulfilled a promise he made shortly after the election, and immediately following the US’ official exit from the accord under President Trump. Biden has made several other significant moves on the climate front, including the appointment of Kerry as the first climate-focused official to sit on the National Security Council.

Kerry said:

“We’re proud to be back. We come back, I want you to know, with humility, for the absence of the last four years, and we’ll do everything in our power to make up for it.”

The Special Envoy stated that the administration will follow up its return to the accord with a Nationally Determined Contribution, specifying initiatives and targets the country will take on its path to meeting the Paris Agreement goals:

“We have already launched our work to prepare a new US Nationally Determined Contribution that meets the urgency of the challenge, and we aim to announce our NDC as soon as practicable.”

Kerry highlighted several of the actions the new administration will take in rejoining global climate efforts.  These will include leveraging US innovation and climate data and information to promote a better understanding and management of climate risk, as well as significantly increasing the flow of finance to adaptation and resilience initiatives. In addition, Kerry pledged to work with the private sector in order to promote greater collaboration between businesses and the communities upon which they depend.

Kerry also signalled the US’ intention to play a leading role in promoting global climate action, saying the US will call on other countries to pick up their climate game. Kerry said:

“We intend to do everything we possibly can to ensure that COP26 results in ambitious climate action in which all major emitter countries raise ambitions significantly.”

According to Kerry, investing in climate mitigation and resilience is a matter of common sense for the country. Kerry said:

“We’ve reached the point where it is an absolute fact that its cheaper to invest in preventing damage or minimizing it at least, than cleaning up.”