December 8, 2022

Kerry tells Davos climate coalition swelling

US climate envoy John Kerry listed more countries and companies that have joined the 'First Movers' climate group


US climate envoy John Kerry listed more countries and companies that have joined the ‘First Movers’ climate group – Copyright AFP/File LUCA SOLA

US climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday more countries and companies are swinging behind a bid to combat climate change by jump-starting markets for technologies with massive investments.

They have joined a group known as the “First Movers Coalition”.

“Today the First Movers Coalition initiative leaps from the 35 initial companies that came to the table to 55 companies, with the additions of major corporations: FedEx, Ford Motor Company, and others,” Kerry told reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“The First Movers Coalition is mobilizing enormous purchasing power now to induce investment in brand-new technologies that could come to market,” he added.

Kerry likened the strategy to US government procurement schemes he said had boosted development of Covid-19 vaccines and private spaceflight.

He also listed a number of new countries to join the group, naming Britain, Denmark, Italy, India, Japan, Norway, Singapore and Sweden, and saying government policy could accelerate the transition in areas like green manufacturing and carbon capture and storage.

Billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates said that at present “so many of the green products carry a price premium, and the way you get rid of that is you scale up the production”, citing the examples of solar panels, wind power and lithium-ion batteries.

Other technologies could achieve large-scale adoption in the same way, Gates said, pointing especially to hydrogen power.

“A combination of policies, including tax credits, private sector demand, teaming up the small companies that have great ideas with these companies that are willing to buy… that is the path forward,” he added.

Google Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat said that the firm had committed $200 million to carbon dioxide removal, forming the core of over $900 million in pledges from other firms for the coming decade.

“We have seen that having clarity and certainty about demand does catalyse growth in markets,” Porat added.

Meanwhile Sweden’s Finance Minister Mikael Damberg said the Nordic country “wants to be the first fossil-free welfare nation on the planet,” highlighting especially a pilot plant for fossil-free steel production using hydrogen.