US climate ambassador announces trip to Russia in times of tension


US Climate Ambassador John Kerry will meet with Russian officials in Moscow next week, making him the highest-ranking Biden government official to visit Russia at a time when the two countries are at odds.

In a brief announcement from the State Department on Thursday, Kerry’s four-day trip would be aimed at discussing “means to increase global climate ambitions.”

China, and then the United States, are the world leaders in climate-damaging emissions of coal and petroleum fumes, but Russia, ranked 4th in the world due to its reliance on coal burning, is an above-average contributor to climate change relative to the size of its economy and population.

Former Secretary of State in the Obama administration, Kerry, is encouraging other governments to commit to tough emissions reduction targets ahead of a UN global climate summit later this year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attended President Joe Biden’s climate summit in April via video. But Putin’s government has set itself poorly ambitious targets to reduce emissions as waste from fossil fuel burning is heating the planet.

The trip comes as the two nations argue over ransomware attacks blamed on Russia-related gangs, putting Biden under domestic political pressure to punish Russia for hacking.

Biden’s government, despite sometimes hostile relations on other matters, has sought cooperation with US adversaries and competitors in the climate field.

Arms control is an area where both Russia and the United States are pursuing new agreements. Strategic talks between the two are set to begin in Geneva at the end of next week, as Biden and Putin agreed at a summit in Geneva last month.

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