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Climate Envoy, John Kerry refuses to disclose names of staff: ‘That is not the required process’

Climate Envoy John Kerry, who holds a cabinet-level position in the State Department, recently faced questions from Rep. Brian Mast regarding the disclosure of staff names and his office’s transparency.

During a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s oversight subcommittee, Mast asked Kerry to share the names of staff members under his authority. Kerry provided two deputy envoys’ names but declined to disclose further, citing the State Department’s process and highlighting that sharing such information in that setting would violate their protocols.

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Kerry declines to disclose staff names, cites state department’s process

“I’m not going to go through all the names,” he said.

“I’m not going to go through them by name because that is not the required process of the State Department,” he continued.

Delays FOIA request for Kerry’s office raise concerns

Mast raised concerns about a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed in 2021 seeking information about Kerry’s office.

He revealed that the office had informed him that the information would not be provided until 2024, resulting in a three-year delay. Kerry mentioned that an algorithm determined the response date, referring to the FOIA request.

Controversies surrounding Kerry’s confirmation, online presence

Tensions escalated as Mast stated that Kerry did not require Senate confirmation as the United States’ first special presidential envoy for climate, unlike standard cabinet-level positions.

Mast also highlighted the absence of an easily accessible online presence for Kerry’s office, including a dedicated website or landing page.

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Discussion on U.S. climate commitments at COP28

Kerry directed Mast to the Congressional Notice containing a detailed chart and mentioned utilizing the State Department website.

However, a less contentious exchange followed as Mast presented a chart concerning potential U.S. commitments at the upcoming United Nations climate conference, COP28.

Mast questions Kerry on climate reparations, cross-border carbon trading

Photo Credits: DepositPhotos

Mast questioned Kerry about climate reparations, to which Kerry firmly responded, “No. Under no circumstances.”

They further discussed a possible cross-border carbon trading commitment by the U.S., with Kerry clarifying that no current proposal or plan required such action.

Crow, Meeks defend Kerry’s transparency

He emphasized the exploration of cross-border adjustment mechanisms to address carbon-intensive products entering the country.

During the hearing, Reps. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) and Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) defended Kerry’s transparency and engagement with Congress.

Economic opportunity of the climate transition

Crow stressed that Kerry’s office had always been helpful, while Meeks highlighted Kerry’s consistent communication with Congress.

Kerry told Crow that the climate transition represents the world’s most significant economic opportunity since the Industrial Revolution.

Debate over decoupling from China, reducing dependency

Mills asked why the United States was not pursuing decoupling from China. Kerry responded that most economists and investors believe complete decoupling is not feasible.

Mills disagreed, suggesting seabed harvesting and increased oil and gas drilling could reduce dependence on China.

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Discussion on transparency and United States climate commitments

As Kerry prepares for climate talks in China, these interactions shed light on discussions regarding the transparency of his office and the United States’ climate commitments.

The hearing demonstrated varying perspectives among representatives, underscoring the complexity of climate policy and the challenges of balancing economic opportunities with environmental considerations.

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