City of London,

John Kerry receives Freedom of the City of London

John Kerry, who United States President Joe Biden has put in charge of tackling climate change, became a Freeman of the City of London at a ceremony today. 

Last year Kerry became the first U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and the first-ever Principal to sit on the National Security Council entirely dedicated to climate change.

He is also a former nominee for U.S. President and was Secretary of State in Barack Obama’s administration.

Born in a military hospital, Kerry was honoured with a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts, the oldest military award in the U.S., for heroism during the Vietnam War.

Running for U.S. President against George W. Bush in 2004, he campaigned on an agenda of reducing unemployment and increasing access to health care. He was narrowly defeated in an election with huge voter turnout.

In 2012, he was nominated by President Obama to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. 

Lord Mayor of London Vincent Keaveny said:

“We are delighted to have awarded the Freedom of the City to Secretary Kerry. 

“His longstanding contributions to combating climate change have had a lasting positive impact and it is fitting they are recognised in this way. He has worked tirelessly to bring the world together to tackle the climate crisis.”

City of London Corporation Policy Chairman Chris Hayward said:

“Secretary Kerry is a distinguished figure on the global stage when it comes to combating climate change and this Freedom is richly deserved. 

“It is a pleasure and a privilege to welcome him to the City of London. We are committed to bringing the public and private sectors together to reach our climate goals – as well as tackling this challenge through the City Corporation’s radical Climate Action Strategy.”

John Kerry said:

“It is an incredible honor to be awarded the Freedom of the City and join an 800-year-old tradition that has recognised some of the world’s foremost leaders, artists, and others. I am especially grateful for this recognition by the City of London Corporation given their record of climate leadership and advocacy.

“I look forward to continuing our work together to secure a healthier planet and build a better future for our children and grandchildren.”

The Freedom of the City of London, which is believed to have begun in 1237, was used to enable recipients to carry out their trade. Today, people are nominated for, or apply for, the Freedom, because it offers them a link with the historic City of London and one of its ancient traditions.

The Freedom is also offered to individuals by the City of London Corporation to help celebrate a significant achievement, or to pay tribute to their outstanding contribution to London life or public life.

Later this week, Kerry will speak at the Net Zero Delivery Summit – organised by the City Corporation in association with the COP 26 UK Presidency 2022 – at the Mansion House.

The City Corporation’s Climate Action Strategy commits the organisation to achieving net zero carbon in our own operations by 2027. We also aim to become net-zero across our investments and supply chain by 2040 - and to support the achievement of net zero for the whole Square Mile by the same year.

 The City Corporation has also announced a 2040 net zero target for its combined £3bn investment portfolios.


Notes to editors
The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK.

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Matthew Cooper

Culture Communications Officer: COVID-19

City of London Corporation