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Andy Nguyen
By Andy Nguyen November 22, 2022

John Kerry did not speak at climate summit about wiping out the middle class

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  • U.S. climate envoy John Kerry during the COP27 climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, talked about the need for companies to address climate change by investing in greener technologies and products. 
  • Kerry did not mention wiping capitalism, the middle class or wanting to place the world under a central banking digital currency system. 

During the United Nations’ COP27 climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, John Kerry, the United States’ special presidential envoy for climate, discussed the need for private companies and governments to work together to address climate change. An Instagram post has interpreted his remarks as an attack on capitalism and the middle class. 

A man shared a video of himself talking about Kerry’s Nov. 7 remarks, using a screenshot from a Gateway Pundit article as his background. The article’s headline said, "John Kerry Spills the Beans at U.N.’s COP27 Meeting: They Want to Replace Capitalism with a New Economic System."

"They want to wipe out the middle class, they want to get you under the central banking digital currency system, or you’ll see a carbon tax, you’ll see a social credit score, and they will take your rights away," the man said in the video.

Many of the man’s talking points come from the post from the Gateway Pundit, a conservative website known to spread misinformation. 

The "they" mentioned by the man and Gateway Pundit post appears to be the First Movers Coalition, a partnership between the U.S. and the World Economic Forum. The coalition began in 2021 and involves more than 50 private companies pledging to invest in greener technologies and renewable energy sources within the transportation and industrial sectors. 

A World Economic Forum spokesperson told PolitiFact there’s no truth to the claims from the Instagram video and The Gateway Pundit. Those claims are related to conspiracy theories surrounding the World Economic Forum’s "The Great Reset" policy ideas.

The Instagram post was flagged as part of Instagram’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

Kerry’s speech at COP27

During a COP27 panel, Kerry spoke about the First Movers Coalition, which went from 25 member companies in 2021 to 65 members in 2022. He detailed the need for these companies to spearhead efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and keep global temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-Industrial Revolution levels. 

Companies pledging to be more environmentally friendly should boost demand for greener technology, Kerry said. 

"We have an enormous challenge ahead of us to bring to scale new technologies and to harness the deeply capable capacity of private sector entrepreneurs in order to bring them to the table because, without it, no government has enough money to accelerate, to support the process," Kerry said. "We need everybody engaged in this."

The Instagram video doesn’t say why encouraging companies to invest in greener technologies would end capitalism or destroy the middle class. 

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However, the Gateway Pundit claims that creating an artificial demand for environmentally friendly items, such as electric cars and nonlivestock meat alternatives, would have detrimental consequences.

In one example, the outlet said promoting meat alternatives would lead to a decreased demand in beef and a reduction in livestock in the U.S. in favor of "crickets and other insects" as protein. 

However, the Environmental Protection Agency has said that extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heat waves are what can decimate crops and kill livestock

The World Economic Forum’s "Great Reset"

Kerry did not mention a central banking digital currency system, carbon tax or a social credit score during his speech at COP27. 

Yann Zopf, a World Economic Forum spokesperson, told PolitiFact the organization believes digital currencies "have a role to play in building a global financial system" in a post-pandemic world, but it can only recommend, not mandate its use. 

Zopf said the World Economic Forum is not a legislative body; its role is to enable cooperation between private companies and governments.

"The claims (in the Instagram video) are false and misleading," he said.

The World Economic Forum said the Great Reset’s proposals are designed to shape "global relations, the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models and the management of a global commons" in a post-COVID-19 world.

The initiative recommends that governments better coordinate tax and fiscal policies, update trade agreements and use technological innovations to address health and social challenges. 

Because of its broad proposals to "reset capitalism," the Great Reset has been the target of multiple conspiracy theories.

Our ruling

An Instagram video claimed Kerry spoke about wanting to "wipe out the middle class … get you under the central banking digital currency system."

Kerry didn’t call for that during the COP27 climate summit. He spoke about private companies investing in greener technologies to combat climate change. He did not advocate for ending the middle class or implementing a central banking digital currency system.

We rate this claim False. 

Our Sources

Instagram post (archive), Nov. 11, 2022

The Gateway Pundit, "John Kerry Spills the Beans at U.N.’s COP27 Meeting: They Want to Replace Capitalism with a New Economic System" (archive), Nov. 10, 2022

World Economic Forum, First Movers Coalition, accessed Nov. 16, 2022

U.S. Department of State, Launching the First Movers Coalition at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, Nov. 4, 2021

PolitiFact, "The Great Reset is not a conspiracy to force changes in economic systems," Oct. 11, 2022

World Economic Forum, The Great Reset, accessed Nov. 17, 2022

Email with Yann Zopf, head of media for the World Economic Forum, Nov. 17, 2022

World Economic Forum, First Movers Coalition Leaders Panel, Nov. 7, 2022

EPA, Climate impacts on agriculture and food supply, Jan. 19, 2017

World Economic Forum, "Now is the time for a 'great reset,'" June 3, 2020 

BBC, "What is the Great Reset - and how did it get hijacked by conspiracy theories," June 24, 2021

Anti-Defamation League, "‘The Great Reset’ conspiracy flourishes amid continued pandemic," Dec. 29, 2020

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John Kerry did not speak at climate summit about wiping out the middle class

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