US climate envoy John Kerry spars in heated exchanges with House Republicans ahead of Beijing trip

Jul 13, 2023, 11:18 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. climate envoy John Kerry defended his negotiations with China — and angrily rebuffed what he called a “stupid” lie that he routinely travels by private jet — during a grilling by House Republicans on Thursday before he sets out on his next climate mission to Beijing.

Kerry leaves Sunday for meetings with his counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, the first extensive face-to-face climate discussions between the world’s two worst climate polluters after a nearly yearlong hiatus.

The questioning in Thursday’s hearing by the Republican-led House Foreign Affairs Committee’s oversight subcommittee underscored the risks for Kerry that rising tensions between the two rival countries will stymie progress in what scientists stress are essential cuts in fossil fuel emissions over this decade.

Republicans’ questioning of Kerry on his climate diplomacy at times broke down into challenging the existence of the scientifically established fact of climate change and openly insulting the former secretary of state, who is a longtime target of political hardliners.

In the most heated confrontation, Republican Rep. Scott Perry accused Kerry of drumming up a “problem that doesn’t exist” in global warming. When Kerry asked why the world’s scientists and the 195 global governments behind the Paris climate accord would make up global warming, Perry responded, “Because they’re grifting, like you are,” drawing gasps from lawmakers.

But with Republicans as well as Democrats overall accepting the science underlying the warming climate, much of Thursday’s criticism from GOP committee members zeroed in on the appropriateness of the U.S. engaging in climate negotiations with China. They cited China’s record of human rights abuses and what lawmakers described as China’s evasiveness in refusing to make bigger cuts in climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions.

“They’re not an honest broker when it comes to addressing emissions. They fire a coal plant up pretty much every day, if not week,” said Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Republican lawmakers faulted China’s insistence that it was still a developing economy and should not be held to the same climate standards as developed Western economies, and China’s suspected use of forced labor of ethnic minorities in making solar panel components.

Kerry responded that the clear disparity between China’s claims and the size of its economy as the world’s second biggest could not be allowed to deadlock global progress on cutting emissions. And as far as persuading China to hold itself to the same emissions-cutting requirements facing other big economies, “let me just be frank with you, that’s not going to happen in this visit.”

“But the Chinese government understands this is a growing issue of concern,” he said.

Fireworks broke out again after Rep. Cory Mills, a Florida Republican, made a reference to claims that Kerry conducts his climate work by private jet, saying he hoped “it wasn’t too problematic for your operational team and your private jet to get here.”

Kerry singled that out as “one of the most outrageously persistent lies that I hear, which is this private jet.”

“I don’t own a private jet. I personally have never owned a private jet,” Kerry said, adding that it was “pretty stupid” to talk about coming to Capitol Hill by private jet from his office at the State Department.

He said in his 2 1/2 years as climate envoy he had flown entirely on commercial air, with the exception of five military flights, and recalled no flights on private jets in that time. A family jet belonging primarily to his wife had been sold, he said, but did not say when.

United States News

Associated Press

Pursuit of Milwaukee carjacking suspects ends with police shooting 2 teens in stolen vehicle

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A police pursuit of carjacking suspects in Milwaukee ended Thursday with police firing into the vehicle and injuring two teens, one of whom was pregnant and lost her baby, Milwaukee police said. Officers tried to stop the stolen vehicle just before 2:30 p.m. on Interstate 43 north of Milwaukee. The pursuit ended […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

2 crop dusting airplanes collided in southern Idaho, killing 1 pilot and severely injuring the other

ARCO, Idaho (AP) — Two crop dusting airplanes collided near an airport in southern Idaho on Thursday and crashed to the ground, killing one of the pilots and leaving the other with life-threatening injuries, officials said. The crash was reported at about 12:30 p.m. in an area covered by sage and grass near the airport […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Seattle police officer fired for off-duty racist comments

SEATTLE (AP) — A Seattle police officer was fired for calling his Chinese American neighbor racist and sexist slurs while off duty in 2022, according to a news report. Officer Burton Hill was fired in May, The Seattle Times reported. The termination stemmed from an altercation with his neighbor, Zhen Jin, over the disposal of […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Appeals court panel refuses to delay Trump ally Steve Bannon’s 4-month contempt prison sentence

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court panel on Thursday rejected longtime Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon’s bid to stay out of prison while he fights his conviction for defying a subpoena from the House committee that investigated the U.S. Capitol attack. Bannon is supposed to report to prison by July 1 to begin serving […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

2 killed in helicopter crash in Washington state, authorities say

BLUESTEM, Wash. (AP) — Two men died in a helicopter crash in eastern Washington state, authorities said. Lincoln County Fire District 6 Chief Brandon Larmer told KREM-TV that the helicopter had two people aboard when it crashed Wednesday afternoon. The men who died were identified Thursday as 68-year-old Ryan Sandvig, of Spokane, and 63-year-old Mark […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Gold bars and Sen. Bob Menendez’s curiosity about their price takes central role at bribery trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors showed jurors at Sen. Bob Menendez ’s trial on Thursday multiple instances when he researched the value of gold as he tried to help a New Jersey businessman who authorities say bribed him with gold and cash. The evidence about the Democrat’s online searches was prominently displayed to a New […]

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

US climate envoy John Kerry spars in heated exchanges with House Republicans ahead of Beijing trip