The year was 2015. The day, December 11. On that cold Parisian night, John Kerry thundered before a room full of hopefuls. Unless the 195 country representatives agreed to America’s terms, Kerry was going to walk away from the Paris Agreement talks. “You can take the US out of this,” he said. “Take the developed world out of this. Remember, the Earth has a problem. What will you do with the problem on your own? I would love to have a legally binding agreement. But the situation in the US is such that legally binding with respect to finance is a killer for the agreement.”
Kerry was alluding to the demand by several developing countries that the rich and developed nations pay the poor for the cost of fighting climate change—the tab would likely run up to hundreds of billions of dollars a year. The United States was against this.
But, 48 hours later, the 196 countries agreed to the Paris Agreement, carefully accommodating the American point of view.