Biden administration climate envoy John Kerry admitted before Congress on Wednesday that slave labor plagues the globe’s green energy supply chain, potentially complicating the administration’s efforts to source materials from top human rights abusers like China.
During testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Kerry was pressed on his recent comments suggesting that China’s ongoing genocide against the ethnic Uyghur minority should not “get in the way” of a climate deal. Some 80 percent of the world’s solar panels are produced in China, and the United States has determined that at least a portion are made by Uyghur slave laborers in the country’s Xinjiang province. Asked about the issue, Kerry was forced to publicly acknowledge that slave labor fuels the green energy market.
“You’re absolutely correct. … It is a problem,” Kerry said in response to questions from Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas), the committee’s lead Republican. “Xinjiang province … produces some solar panels that we believe, in some cases, are being produced with forced labor by Uyghurs.”
Kerry, however, declined several opportunities to describe China’s behavior as a genocide, as the Trump administration did shortly before leaving office. He did not answer questions about steps the Biden administration is taking to ensure green energy supply chains are not marred by slave labor or about reports that he shared secret information with Iran. Four Republican senators are urging Congress to hold off on funding Kerry’s climate envoy office until he answers questions about his Iran dealings. more here