Issues

Kerry: We Wouldn’t Have a Climate Agreement if There Actual Penalties for Not Reducing Emissions

While discussing the global climate change agreement made in Paris over the weekend, Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged on Fox News Sunday that there wouldn't been an agreement at all if there were binding penalties for countries not meeting emissions standards.

President Obama, Kerry said, was determined to "get an agreement that would move the world in the right direction." As such, Kerry said that the "best thing we can do" to get countries to reduce their carbon emissions was a "mandatory reporting requirement."

In a bit of circular logic, Kerry said that countries would have to retool their reduction levels every five years to meet their commitments, but he couldn't say there was anything beyond their own word to force them to so.

"The best thing we can do in an effort to try to change people's thinking is to do this mandatory reporting requirement," Kerry said. "The mandatory reporting requirement has to be updated every five years. Every five years, it is mandatory that countries retool their reduction levels in order to meet the demands of meeting the curve of reduction to which they have committed. So that is a serious form of enforcement, if you will, compliance. But there is no penalty for it, obviously, but if there had been a penalty, we wouldn't have been able to get an agreement."

Full exchange:

CHRIS WALLACE: But is there anything that's binding, sir, that would force a country like China, which is the world's biggest polluter, to make specific reductions in carbon emissions?

JOHN KERRY: The answer is, by virtue of the transparency mechanism, which is broad based here. President Obama was determined to try to get an agreement that would move the world in the right direction. The president has taken enormous initiative to engage us with other countries, including China, and bring them to the table. Some countries, Chris, wouldn't accept the mandatory mechanism, we among them. So the best thing we can do in an effort to try to change people's thinking is to do this mandatory reporting requirement. The mandatory reporting requirement has to be updated every five years.

Every five years, it is mandatory that countries retool their reduction levels in order to meet the demands of meeting the curve of reduction to which they have committed. So that is a serious form of enforcement, if you will, compliance. But there is no penalty for it, obviously, but if there had been a penalty, we wouldn't have been able to get an agreement. So we did the best we could to set the world on a new course towards energy independence, alternative renewable energy, towards a lower carbon footprint, greater health, greater security, and frankly the president, I think, deserves enormous credit for his outreach to China, putting the two largest emitters and the two largest economies together to set an example to the world.