Picture: Climate envoy John Kerry attends a United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2021. (Reuters/Yves Herman)
By Thomas Catenacci | Fox News
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House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., is probing Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (SPEC) John Kerry’s secretive negotiations with his Chinese counterparts.
Comer informed Kerry in a letter sent Thursday afternoon that the committee, under his leadership, has opened an investigation into Kerry’s role in the Biden administration and, in particular, his high-level climate negotiations with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). To date, Kerry has ignored information and document requests from Comer and other committee Republicans sent when they were in the minority.
“To date, you have failed to respond to any of our requests,” Comer wrote to Kerry. “Yet, you continue to engage in activities that could undermine our economic health, skirt congressional authority, and threaten foreign policy under the guise of climate advocacy.”
“The Committee requests documents and information to understand your role and provide necessary transparency over the SPEC and its activities,” he continued. “As a member of the President’s cabinet, you should be representing the United States’ interests. Your statements, however, consistently show disregard for American national security and taxpayer dollars.”
President Biden appointed Kerry to be the U.S. SPEC, a position that hadn’t previously existed and which didn’t require Senate approval, shortly after taking office in early 2021. The SPEC office is housed at the State Department and has an estimated $13.9 million annual budget with approval for 45 personnel.
Kerry’s position gives him a spot on the president’s cabinet and National Security Council. Since taking on the role, he has traveled worldwide, attending high-profile climate summits and diplomatic engagements in an effort to push a global transition from fossil fuels to green energy alternatives.
Despite the high-level role leading the Biden administration’s global climate strategy, Kerry’s office has been tight-lipped about its internal operations and staff members, sparking criticism from Republicans, including Comer, who have demanded transparency for such an important office.
“We are left with an insufficient understanding of your office’s activities, spending, and staffing,” Comer continued. “To enable long overdue oversight of your office, please provide the following documents and information.”
The Oversight Committee chairman added that Kerry has been too soft on China’s human rights violations “while promoting climate negotiations that the CCP does not even appear interested in entering.”
Kerry has been blasted for various comments that have appeared to downplay vast human rights abuses tied to China’s green energy supply chain. After he was asked in November 2021 about how slave labor was reportedly employed by solar panel firms in China, Kerry said he had to stay in his “lane” when negotiating with Chinese officials.
“Well, we’re honest about the differences,” Kerry said at the time. “We certainly know what they are, and we’ve articulated them, but that’s not my lane here… My job is to be the climate guy and stay focused on trying to move the climate agenda forward.”
Since assuming the SPEC position, Kerry has engaged in various private talks with Chinese counterparts, including two 2021 meetings that took place in China. Following a regional climate summit in April 2021, Kerry told CNBC that solving climate change was “not about China.”
“This is not about China. This is not a counter to China,” he told the outlet. “This is about China, the United States, India, Russia… a bunch of countries that are emitting a pretty sizable amount.”
China accounts for about 27% of total global emissions — nearly tripling the total in the U.S., the world’s second-largest emitter, according to Rhodium Group — and continues to approve and construct a large amount of coal power plants.
The SPEC office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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