John Kerry’s British Election Meddling

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry



Remember American politicians who profess to be appalled by foreign interference in US domestic politics? Apparently there is an exception when John Kerry interferes in the election of another country. Look at the uproar the US climate commissioner caused in the UK this weekend with his intervention in the Conservative Party leadership race.

Climate policy is an issue in the race to succeed Boris Johnson as Tory leader and UK Prime Minister after Mr Johnson’s green ambitions have wreaked so much economic damage. Environmental taxes and rejection of domestic oil and gas exploration contributed to a 54% increase in household energy bills in April, with a further 40% increase expected in October. One of Mr. Johnson’s worst blunders was a plan to force homes to abandon the natural gas boilers they use for hot water and central heating and instead spend thousands of dollars installing heat pumps.

No wonder Mr Kerry is worried the Tories might change their minds. “I will say very clearly and unyieldingly: we are behind. We don’t have the luxury of toying with the year 2050 right now,” the Biden government’s jet-set climate ambassador admonished the Tories on a BBC radio show this weekend. He spoke of the ambition to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The big disappointment is that the final two candidates to replace Mr Johnson are said to agree. Secretary of State Liz Truss and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak both say they support the 2050 target.

But they’ve also set limits on what they’re willing to do to achieve that goal. Ms Truss’ promise to eliminate environmental taxes on household energy bills is a key element of her campaign. Mr Sunak would build offshore wind farms but promises not to impose unsightly but cheaper-to-build onshore wind turbines on rural Britons.

Perhaps that is what worries Mr. Kerry so much. The promise of a low-carbon future 30 years from now sounds good until people start noticing what those policies are costing them today — be it in household energy or gasoline prices. Mr. Kerry wants to lecture the world on a policy he can’t even sell to the US Senate.

Review and outlook: Boris Johnson brought about Britain’s exit from the European Union, but then failed to capitalize on the UK’s newfound freedom to regulate, opting instead to rule from the left before scandals like Partygate erupted. Images: AFP/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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Appeared in the print edition on July 26, 2022. John Kerry’s British Election Meddling

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