US won’t reverse clean energy transition, regardless of election outcome – Kerry

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The transition toward clean energy and electric vehicles will not be interrupted regardless of who wins the 2024 U.S. presidential election, outgoing U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said on Tuesday.

Kerry, speaking on a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, was bullish on the trajectory of the energy transition – even amid global concern that a possible second Trump presidency could reverse some of the Biden administration’s key climate policies.

“This economic revolution is underway and it’s much bigger than any politician, any one person,” Kerry told the Davos audience.

Kerry confirmed that he plans to leave his role as the president’s special envoy on climate change, the top U.S. climate diplomat, in order to play a vocal role in President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign this year.

He said that a U.S. law called the Hatch Act prevents federal employees from participating in campaign activities, which he said would constrain him from touting the administration’s climate policies and accomplishments ahead of the November elections.

“This is going to be one of the reasons I want my voice back to be able to go out and be involved is because this issue is a voting issue,” he said.

Kerry said he is not retiring but focusing on the campaign and working with the private sector to keep them focused on decarbonizing their respective sectors. He said he will continue to attend the next U.N. climate summit known as the COP.

He said the CEOs of some of the largest corporations are making clean energy and vehicle investments now that they are unlikely to reverse.

“They know what they are doing,” Kerry said. “Do you think those CEOs are going to say, ‘Oh my God, they just elected a new president, let’s go back and build internal combustion engine cars?’ Not on your life. Not happening,” he said.

Kerry also said that even under Trump’s presidency, 75% of new electricity that came on line was from renewable sources and that U.S. governors representing the majority of U.S. voters remained in the Paris climate agreement, despite Trump’s decision to withdraw from the pact.

Adding to this, he said Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act – a primarily climate-focused bill that unleashed over $300 billion in clean energy, vehicle and other incentives, has largely benefited Republican-voting states, meaning lawmakers would be reluctant to roll back the investments and jobs that law has created locally.

“I’m quite confident it’s going to have an impact on the outcome,” he said.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; editing by Jonathan Oatis)