Kerry spoke remotely to an Italian climate meeting, in his first international address for the Biden administration. He said the United States was returning to the Paris climate accord with humility and ambition.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order hours after his inauguration on Wednesday, starting the process of getting the United States back into the nearly 200-country U.N. climate treaty. Countries in the accord commit to setting goals to cut climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions and to monitor and report their emissions.
Biden’s predecessor, President Donald Trump, had pulled the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate agreement, framing his decision as “a reassertion of America’s sovereignty.” Trump’s move had struck a major blow to worldwide efforts to combat global warming and distanced the nation from its closest allies.
Biden has put Kerry, the secretary of state under President Barack Obama, in charge of climate and national security issues.
Kerry told the Italian summit that the United States was going back to work after four wasted years, in remarks carried by European news services. “Failure is not an option,” Kerry said.
He expressed thanks to Europe as a whole for the steps European nations have taken to cut oil, gas and coal pollution.