Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry with Raj Chengappa of India Today

John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate

New Delhi, India

India Today:  Hello, I’m Raj Chengappa and we are delighted that Mr. John Kerry, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate,  is speaking exclusively to India Today on his mission to India, a very important mission, Mr. Kerry.

Mr. Kerry:  Thank you.

India Today:  You have met Prime Minister Modi and several key cabinet ministers and discussed your mission, which essentially is to get all nations to cut their carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.  How important is India’s role in this?  And what is the response of Prime Minister Modi to your proposals?

Mr. Kerry:  Thank you, Raj.  It’s great to be with you.

India’s role is crucial.  First of all, India is a leading democracy together with the United States; a huge nation, but it’s also a nation known for its humanistic values, for its connection to earth and to responsibility.  India can contribute very significantly because it is as a nation the third largest emitter – we’re the second largest, China’s the first.  So we have a special responsibility.  Between the three of us we have over 50 percent of the world’s emissions.  So even though India’s are smaller, by half, than ours, we all have to do this because no one nation can solve the problem.  Every nation has to be part of the solution.  We’re dependent on each other.

More importantly, India is a great nation of innovation and entrepreneurial activity and research and development and so forth.  We believe that a partnership between the United States and India in an effort to try to accelerate the discovery of the new technologies that we need to deal with climate crisis, an effort to try to bring finance and help to do things that will accelerate Prime Minister Modi’s very aggressive and important commitment of 450 gigawatts of power over the next ten years from renewables, that’s what we need to do.

India Today:  And what was Prime Minister Modi’s response when you put forward the proposal for the net zero?

Mr. Kerry:  He could not have been more enthusiastic and embracing of it.  I think the Prime Minister has set, knows he has set an important goal  and the Prime Minister would like to achieve that goal.  He’s a person of action.  He wants not rhetoric but results.  So we look forward to trying to fill out this partnership and make things happen and that hopefully could be an example to others in the world.

India Today:  The U.S. has been in and out of international climate —

Mr. Kerry:  Mostly in.

India Today:  Okay.  We’re glad you are back in.  You were out of Paris for a while.

What are you all doing to rebuild the confidence?  It’s good that the Biden administration that you represent has been proactive about it, but what do you need to do to rebuild the confidence of nations that this administration is not all talk and will wiggle out of its commitments, but would really act on climate change?

Mr. Kerry:  Well we need to do exactly what President Biden is doing.  The President rejoined Paris within hours of being sworn in.  The President issued executive orders requiring every aspect of his government to factor in climate in all the decisions that we make.  The President has put a very aggressive, significant piece of legislation allocating $2 trillion to building out America’s infrastructure, our energy grid, to transforming vehicles to electric vehicles, building out 500,000 charging stations in our country.  Many, many different things the President is determined to do because it creates jobs but it also has the impact of improving health, reducing pollution, and addressing the climate crisis.

So the United States under President Biden’s leadership is very clear that we need to not talk about it, we need to do.  We need to act.

He will announce our reduction targets at the Summit on April 22nd and we will be very aggressive in our efforts.  And I would simply emphasize to you, President Trump pulled out of the agreement but most of the governors in America stayed in it.  Most of the mayors in America stayed in it.  So even though President Trump without any science, without any real rationale decided to get out of it, the vast majority of Americans stayed in.  So we’ve been doing pretty well.  Not as good as we could have.  And we certainly sent a terrible message in these last four years.  President Biden is determined to have America step up again the way it did with the Obama-Biden administration.  Now it’s the Biden-Harris administration.  And we’re going to make up for these last four years.

India Today:  Several Indian environmental agencies have said that it would be difficult for India to meet its 2050 target unless major technological changes happen in key industries, particularly in steel and cement.  Now these technologies are very expensive.  What will the U.S. do to give us the kind of green technology or the finance that will enable us to move in that direction?

Mr. Kerry:  Well, what you said is true.  We can’t meet our full goals with the current level of technology and we know that and we have to be honest about that.  But we also can chase those new technologies with far more intensity than we are.  We don’t have enough money going to that challenge of these new technologies.  We’re going to try to change that.  We don’t have enough joint effort, countries working together.  That’s why I’m here, because President Biden wants India and the United States to work together to do the research and hopefully break through on some of these technologies.

We’re all in this together.  I think we need an attitude of cooperation, bringing more people to the table.

The UAE is interested in working with us in this endeavor to try to accelerate the possibilities of hydrogen, for instance, as fuel.  The possibilities of storage for battery power and so forth.

I’m convinced we’ll get there at some point.  The challenge for us is will we get there in time?  Will we push the curve?

India Today:  That’s a good point because China, for instance, says it will not meet its targets by 2050, it wants 2060.  You have somewhat of a confrontational relationship with China at the moment, America does, and so does India.  How confident are you of getting China on board on this?

Mr. Kerry:  I’m hopeful.  Not confident at this point.  I’m hopeful.  Because China is a very important player in this.  China has a very big economy, the second largest in the world.  An enormous nation, powerful nation.  And we hope that China will come to the table and lead.  President Xi has talked about leadership, about China’s role in this.  We want to work with China in doing this.  What President Biden has said is, we will have our differences on some issues.  We clearly do.  So does India.  But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the crisis before all of us which requires all of us to respond and that’s the climate crisis.

So we have to set aside these other things.  We can’t be the prisoners of all of these differences.  We must cooperate on climate.  I think it’s possible.

China and the United States cooperated in 2013, 2014, and we were able to announce our joint efforts.  I think that helped significantly to produce Paris.  Now —

India Today:  I want to come to Paris —

Mr. Kerry:  — we need to work to produce Glasgow.

India Today:  I want to come to Paris because there there were a lot of commitments, particularly funding.  There was a $100 billion commitment made by developed nations 2020.  That was well short of target.

What are you going to do to ensure that this funding is available?  And will you start penalizing nations who don’t put their kitty in?

Mr. Kerry:  I think what we need to do is work with nations to all contribute.  President Biden is going to pay the amount that President Obama had promised, which President Trump blocked.   So we will pay our arrearage but we will also, the President will make certain that we are going forward with an additional amount.  So there will be a Biden contribution to this effort and it will be commensurate with what we should be doing with the size of our economy and our nation.

I believe that we will get, I hope, to the $100 billion.  I believe we will.  We’re about 80 or somewhere now.  But more importantly, we’re not going to just do the $100 billion.  That’s not enough money.  We have to come up with trillions of dollars and the only people who can do that are the private sector.  So we’re working with the largest asset managers, Raj.  We’re working with the largest banks.  Not just large.  We’re starting with the large.  We need to get everybody involved to put money on the table for investment.  Not give away.  But investment.  There’s money to be made in the deployment of new energy and there are all kinds of things that we can do to improve people’s lives, create more jobs, have better health, have greater security, all of which will come if we move in the direction of this new energy economy and I think it’s very exciting.

So the President’s Summit on April 22nd.  President Biden has a Summit.  There will be heads of state there and we will try to raise ambition.  We want the world to see what each country will be pledging to try to do things.  And why?  Because 20 countries, the 20 biggest economies, equal 81 percent of all emissions.  So we want this to happen but we also want it to be just.  We want to be thoughtful and considerate of the small nations that are victims of what others have been doing for 150 years or more and we need to now respond with huge speed to fix the mistakes that we’ve made.

We recognize our responsibility.  Now does that mean that we have to do it all?  No, we can’t do it all by ourselves.  Every country still has to be part of the solution.  For instance, small countries as they build out their energy, don’t go to coal.  Go to renewables.  Go to new energy.  Get a gas relationship or there are many other ways to plug your base load, but we need cooperation.

India Today:  We are running out of time and a final question, what is your big message to India and the world with regard to climate change and to save planet Earth?

Mr. Kerry:  My big message is that India can play a critical role.  It is a nation with huge intellectual resource, with great spirit and spiritual resource.  If the people, the citizens of India apply themselves to this it will happen.

The challenge for all of us is how fast?  We have to do this quickly.  We have to be committed.  And India is a critical partner together with the other bigger economies and bigger emitters.  We have to come together to make sure our children and grandchildren and future generations get a planet back that’s in better shape than it is today.  We really need to get to work to make that happen.

India Today:  Thank you, John Kerry.  We wish you all success in your mission.

Mr. Kerry:  Wish us success.

India Today:  We do.  Thank you.

Mr. Kerry:  It’s our mission.

India Today:  Of course.

Mr. Kerry:  Thank you.

India Today:  Thank you very much.

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    This Capsule—named for its 2-page format—draws from a number of GAO reports to provide examples of how the federal government and states have used Medicaid during pandemics, economic recessions, natural disasters, and other crises. In this Capsule, GAO cites policy considerations and reiterates a recommendation to Congress. For more information, contact Carolyn L. Yocom at (202) 512-7114 or yocomc@gao.gov.
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  • Federal Oil and Gas Revenue: Actions Needed to Improve BLM’s Royalty Relief Policy
    In U.S GAO News
    In reaction to falling domestic oil prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) developed a temporary policy in spring 2020 for oil and gas royalty relief. The policy aimed to prevent oil and gas wells from being shut down in way that could lead to permanent losses of recoverable oil and gas. During March through June 2020, BLM gave companies the opportunity to apply for a reduction in the royalty rates for certain oil and gas leases on federal lands. BLM approved reductions from 12.5 percent of total revenue on oil and gas sold from those leases to an average of less than 1 percent for a period of 60 days. However, BLM did not establish in advance that royalty relief was needed to keep applicants' wells operating, according to BLM officials. BLM also did not assess the extent to which the temporary policy kept oil and gas companies from shutting down their wells or the amount of royalty revenues forgone by the federal government. By evaluating the extent to which the policy met BLM's objective of preventing unrecoverable loss of oil and gas resources–and likely costs, such as forgone revenues—BLM could better inform its decisions about granting royalty relief that provides a fair return to the government, should the agency decide to consider such relief in the future. BLM officials told GAO that BLM state offices implementing the temporary policy for royalty relief made inconsistent decisions about approving applications for relief because the temporary policy did not supply sufficient detail to facilitate uniform decision-making. The officials added that their state offices did not have recent experience in processing applications for oil and gas royalty relief. Several of the officials had never received or processed royalty relief applications. In addition, GAO found that ongoing guidance for processing royalty relief decisions—within BLM's Fees, Rentals and Royalties Handbook , last revised in 1995—also does not contain sufficient instructions for approving royalty relief. For example, the handbook does not address whether to approve applications in cases where the lease would continue to be uneconomic, even after royalty relief. As a result, some companies that applied for royalty relief were treated differently, depending on how BLM officials in their state interpreted the policy and guidance. In particular, officials from two state offices told GAO they denied royalty relief to applicants because the applicants could not prove that royalty relief would enable their leases to operate profitably. However, two other state offices approved royalty relief in such cases. The fifth state office denied both of the applications it received for other reasons. BLM's existing royalty relief guidance did not address this issue, and BLM's temporary policy did not supply sufficient detail to facilitate uniform decision-making in these situations. BLM's directives manual states that BLM should provide BLM employees with authoritative instructions and information to implement BLM programs and support activities. Until BLM updates the royalty relief guidance, BLM cannot ensure that future relief decisions will be made efficiently and equitably across the states and provide a fair return to the federal government. BLM manages the federal government's onshore oil and gas program with the goals of facilitating safe and responsible energy development while providing a fair return for the American taxpayer. In April 2020, oil and gas producers faced financial challenges from a drop in demand for oil during the COVID-19 pandemic. If oil and gas prices decline, it places financial stress on oil and gas companies, thereby increasing bankruptcies and the risk of wells being shut down. BLM developed a temporary policy to provide oil and gas companies relief from royalties that they owe to the federal government when they sell oil and gas produced on federal lands. This testimony discusses (1) BLM's development of the temporary policy for royalty relief and what is known about the policy's effects, and (2) BLM's implementation of this policy across relevant states. To do this work, GAO reviewed BLM documents; analyzed royalty data; and interviewed BLM officials from headquarters and the five BLM state offices with jurisdiction over states that account for 94 percent of royalties from oil and gas production on federal lands. GAO is making two recommendations. BLM should (1) evaluate the effects of its temporary royalty relief policy and use the results to inform its ongoing royalty relief program, and (2) update its guidance to provide consistent policies for royalty relief.  For more information, contact Frank Rusco at (202) 512-3841 or ruscof@gao.gov.
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  • Puerto Rico Legislator and Two Capitol Employees Indicted for Theft and Bribery
    In Crime News
    On Wednesday, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an eight-count indictment against legislator Nelson Del Valle Colon (Del Valle), a member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, as well as two of his employees, Nickolle Santos-Estrada (Santos) and her mother Mildred Estrada-Rojas (Estrada), for their alleged participation in a multi-year theft, bribery, and kickback conspiracy.
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  • Houston men sentenced for smuggling meth in truck tires
    In Justice News
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  • Cameroonian Operator Charged in Fraudulent Online “Puppy Scam” that Exploited the COVID-19 Pandemic
    In Crime News
    A criminal complaint unsealed Friday in federal court in Pittsburgh charges Desmond Fodje Bobga for his alleged involvement in a puppy fraud scheme perpetrated against American consumers.  Fodje Bobga, 27, is a citizen of Cameroon who is in Romania on a visa to attend a university there. 
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  • Japanese CEO and Employees Charged in Scheme to Defraud U.S. Navy and Dump Wastewater in Ocean
    In Crime News
    Three Japanese nationals, including the president and chief executive officer of Yokohama, Japan-based Kanto Kosan Co. Ltd. (Kanto Kosan) were indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday in connection with an alleged long-running scheme to defraud the U.S. Navy and pollute Japanese waters by dumping contaminated water removed from U.S. Navy ships into the ocean.
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  • Paraguay Travel Advisory
    In Travel
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  • Survivors of Childhood Cancer: Factors Affecting Access to Follow-up Care
    In U.S GAO News
    Stakeholders GAO interviewed and studies GAO reviewed identified three factors that affect access to follow-up care for childhood cancer survivors—individuals of any age who were diagnosed with cancer from ages 0 through 19. These factors are care affordability, survivors' and health care providers' knowledge of appropriate care, and proximity to care. Childhood cancer survivors need access to follow-up care over time for serious health effects known as late effects—such as developmental problems, heart conditions, and subsequent cancers—which result from their original cancer and its treatment. Affordability: Survivors of childhood cancer may have difficulty paying for follow-up care, which can affect their access to this care. For example, one study found that survivors were significantly more likely to have difficulty paying medical bills and delay medical care due to affordability concerns when compared to individuals with no history of cancer. Knowledge: Survivors' access to appropriate follow-up care for late effects of childhood cancer can depend on both survivors' and providers' knowledge about such care, which can affect access in various ways, according to stakeholders GAO interviewed and studies GAO reviewed: Some survivors may have been treated for cancer at an early age and may have limited awareness of the need for follow- up care. Some primary or specialty care providers may not be knowledgeable about guidelines for appropriate follow-up care, which can affect whether a survivor receives recommended treatment. Follow-up care may include psychosocial care (e.g., counseling), and palliative care (e.g., pain management). Proximity: Survivors may have difficulty reaching appropriate care settings. Stakeholders GAO interviewed and studies GAO reviewed noted that childhood cancer survivors may have to travel long distances to receive follow-up care from multidisciplinary outpatient clinics—referred to as childhood cancer survivorship clinics. The lack of proximity may make it particularly difficult for survivors with limited financial resources to adhere to recommended follow-up care. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that conduct activities specific to childhood cancer survivors, including research about access to care—have taken steps to implement three provisions in the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research Act of 2018 (Childhood Cancer STAR Act) relevant to access to care for survivors. For example, CDC has awarded a contract to develop software to improve the collection of information on individuals with childhood cancer, and NCI has funded three research projects focused on interventions aimed at addressing adverse outcomes among childhood cancer survivors. NCI has also funded research to study the health status and use of follow-up services of 2,000 young adult survivors. Stakeholders have raised questions about the ability of childhood cancer survivors to access needed follow-up care. According to the most recent data available, approximately 465,000 childhood cancer survivors—children, adolescents, and adults—were alive in the United States as of January 1, 2017. Although the 5-year survival rate for childhood cancer has increased from about 62 percent in the mid-1970s to about 86 percent in the mid-2010s, childhood cancer survivors may face late effects, which could require follow-up care across multiple stages of their lives. The conference report accompanying Public Law 115-245 included a provision for GAO to report on barriers to obtaining medical care for childhood cancer survivors, including psychosocial services and palliative care. This report identifies factors reported to affect access to follow-up care for this population. GAO spoke with officials from NCI and CDC and interviewed stakeholders such as providers who care for childhood cancer survivors, professional associations, and advocacy groups. Additionally, GAO reviewed peer-reviewed studies related to access to care for survivors, outcomes of treatment they may receive, and factors that may affect their access to follow-up care. To supplement this work, GAO reviewed the status of selected HHS activities to support access to care for childhood cancer survivors, including steps taken to implement selected provisions in the Childhood Cancer STAR Act. GAO provided a draft of this report to HHS for review and comment. HHS provided technical comments, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or FarbJ@gao.gov.
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  • Justice Department Issues Guidance on Federal Statutes Regarding Voting Methods and Post-Election “Audits”
    In Crime News
    Today the U.S. Department of Justice announced the release of two guidance documents to ensure states fully comply with federal laws regarding elections, specifically federal statutes affecting methods of voting and federal constraints related to post-election “audits.”
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  • Five Charged in Scheme to Export Thermal Imaging Scopes and Night Vision Goggles to Russia, in Violation of Arms Export Control Act
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Los Angeles unsealed an indictment Thursday that accuses five defendants of conspiring to unlawfully export defense articles to Russia. Specifically, the defendants allegedly exported thermal imaging riflescopes and night-vision goggles without a license, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.
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  • Federal Court Enjoins Tuscon Area Tax Preparer From Preparing Tax Returns
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today that a federal court in Arizona permanently enjoined a Tucson area tax return preparer from preparing federal income tax returns for others.
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  • State Department Meetings with Saudi Deputy Minister of Defense Khalid bin Salman
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Justice Department Brings Enforcement Action Against Centurylink
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that CenturyLink, Inc. has agreed to settle allegations that CenturyLink violated the court-ordered Final Judgment designed to prevent anticompetitive effects arising from its acquisition of Level 3 Communications, Inc. 
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  • Virginia Return Preparer Convicted of Tax Fraud
    In Crime News
    A federal jury in Newport News, Virginia, convicted Karl Burden-El Bey (aka Carl L. Burden) Friday of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, theft of government funds and failing to file federal income tax returns.
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  • Syria Travel Advisory
    In Travel
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Before Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
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