Climate Envoy Kerry Outlines Carbon Offset Initiative for Developing Nations

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry outlined a carbon offset plan to help developing nations speed up their energy transition. 

On Sunday, Kerry outlined core principles for a “high-integrity” carbon offset plan, as well as the next steps for the plan, including establishing a consultative group.

The Energy Transition Accelerator (ETA) was first announced at last year’s COP27 climate conference held in Egypt in November 2022. 

The Energy Transition Accelerator is being developed by the United States alongside the Bezos Earth Fund and the Rockefeller Foundation to mobilize private capital. The three parties announced on Sunday their next steps in developing the joint initiative to catalyze private capital to accelerate the transition from dirty to clean power in developing countries.

The broad outlines include an inclusive process to fully design the initiative in the lead-up to COP 28, taking place this year in December in Dubai.

Kerry told the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi the aim was to create bankable deals to accelerate the reduction of emissions. 

Kerry stressed that the ETA was not a substitute for other funding sources and would be time-limited.

The Climate Envoy said the group believes you can have high-integrity, accountable, transparent credit that will help put money on the table, acknowledging widespread criticism of voluntary carbon offset schemes. 

In these schemes, companies get emissions credit in return for channeling cash to poor countries that cut their carbon output, have often been riddled with fraud and double-counting.

“There are only two purposes for which we will allow someone to be able to buy a credit – one, to be closing down or transitioning existing fossil fuel facility that is providing power, and two, for the actual deployment of renewables that will replace current dirty sourcing,” Kerry said.

When Kerry announced the initiative at COP 27, the plan attracted criticism because of the way it would be financed with money raised in sales of carbon credits, which allow companies to pay for someone else to cut their planet-warming emissions, instead of cutting their own.

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