John Kerry reveals to ITV News how close a deal on finance is at COP26

Speaking at the final hour of crucial COP26 climate talks, watch US Special Climate Envoy John Kerry's interview with ITV News's Julie Etchingham in full

Finance remains a sticking point to an agreement at COP26 but the US special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry has told ITV News "we're working right now" to meet the pledge of $100 billion a year.

ITV News' Julie Etchingham put to Secretary Kerry: "The pledge to meet $100 billion a year has gone unmet for nearly 10 years now, hasn't it, are you saying now, as a result of a prospective deal, a deal today that that pledge will be met and it will be met by the end of 2022?"

In 2009, rich nations agreed to sending $100 billion to developing countries to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further rises in temperature by 2020.

The US diplomat replied: "We certainly hope it's going to be the end of 2022... We have 98 billion."

Pressed on whether "hope" was enough, he added: "It's not just hope, we're working even right now to have hopefully pulled together something that closes the loop. It's at 95 to 98 billion right now. And I don't call 98 billion of failure".

"This is a starting gun for the race of this decade"

He blamed the failure to meet the target so far squarely on former President Donald Trump, who controversially pulled out of the Paris climate Agreement when he was in office, absolving the US of any responsibilities in upholding globally agreed climate promises.

Secretary Kerry said: "President Obama put money in to meet that pledge when he was in office. There's a fellow named Donald Trump who cut it. He cut it for all three years."

"And the first year that President Joe Biden is in office, he's putting the money back in."

Speaking at the final hour of the crucial climate talks, Secretary Kerry, the US's first special presidential envoy for climate, said now is the "starting gun for the 10-year race" to save the planet.

The US pulled out of the Paris Agreement after Donald Trump took office. Credit: AP

When asked by Julie Etchingham if he was happy with what has been agreed, he replied: "First of all, we're not finished yet. We haven't completed it.

"So I'm not going to speak as if this is over, but I believe we will have an agreement. And I believe that agreement is going to address many of the concerns of the poorest, the most vulnerable those affected today."

However, he said world leaders have "absolutely not" finished the job of reducing the effects of climate change.

"There's a huge amount of carbon dioxide and methane already up in the atmosphere that's doing damage now"

"This is the starting gun for the 10-year race," he continued. "But the point that is inescapable and critical is this COP is laying a foundation by which it can be done.

"And if other countries will step up even more and hopefully in a cooperative way, we can help make that happen.

"Then we have a fighting chance here. And that puts us way ahead of where we were when we came in here."

The summit has been an opportunity to hold accountable the almost 200 countries that signed up to the Paris Agreement pledging to keep global warming to below 2 degrees, but preferably below 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

But the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said the 2050 climate target of reaching net zero - when the amount of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere is balanced by the removal of them out of the atmosphere - would keep the earth's temperature rise to about 1.8 degrees.

The COP27 climate conference - what you need to know

What is COP27? When and where will it be?

Each year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meets at what is called the Conference of the Parties (abbreviated as COP) to discuss the world's progress on climate change and how to tackle it.

COP27 is the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties summit which will be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from November 6-18.

Who is going?

Leaders of the 197 countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - a treaty that came into force in 1994 - are invited to the summit.

These are some of the world leaders that will be attending COP27:

  • UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is attending the conference, after initially saying he wouldn't as he was too busy focusing on the economy within his first weeks in office.

  • US President Joe Biden and his experienced climate envoy, John Kerry, will appear at the talks.

  • France President Emmanuel Macron will also be among the heads of state from around the world staying in Egypt.

King Charles III will not be attending COP27, despite being a staunch advocate for the environment. The decision was made jointly by Buckingham Palace and former prime minister Liz Truss.

Elsewhere, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will not attend the talks just as they decided to do for COP26.

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What is it hoping to achieve?

1. Ensure full implementation of the Paris Agreement and putting negotiations into concrete actions - included within this is the target of limiting global warming to well below 2C.

2. Cementing progress on the critical workstreams of mitigation, adaptation, finance and loss and damage, while stepping up finance notably to tackle the impacts of climate change.

3. Enhancing the delivery of the principles of transparency and accountability throughout the UN Climate Change process.

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When asked if these figures would save many people from the "catastrophic impact" of climate change, Secretary Kerry admitted: "No.

"Because there's a certain amount - a huge amount - of carbon dioxide and methane that's already up in the atmosphere that's doing damage now," he replied.

"That's why there's urgency and that's why so many of us have been saying every country needs to come to the table and make a difference."

However, he insisted a limit of 1.8 degrees would be "a huge move from where we were thinking we were coming in".

"Now that doesn't mean that's going to happen unless everything we've talked about here is implemented," he added.

However, many experts put the estimated figure much higher than 1.8, including the Climate Action Tracker who say current national plans would lead to 2.4 degrees global warming.