John Kerry is a climate hawk. I’ve been a fan since before 2004 when I helped out on his presidential campaign. (Heavy sigh.) Now that he’s the US Secretary of State, he’s in a unique, critical position to be able to significantly advance an agenda of moving us off the path of self-destruction we’ve been on and onto one in which everyone can enjoy abundant energy and clean air and clean water, not to mention a climate system that will be able to heal itself over time.
Kerry was in Jakarta yesterday giving a major address on climate change. In it he said: “When I think about the array … of global threats: terrorism, epidemics, poverty, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction – all challenges that know no borders – the reality is that climate change ranks right up there with every single one of them.” He goes on in his extensive remarks to highlight most of the major impacts that are wreaking havoc already and saying “…it’s not just one country or even one region that feels the pain. In today’s globalized economy, everyone feels it.” He reiterates the theme of WMDs: “And in a sense, climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”
He also puts the climate deniers in their place. “We just don’t have time to let a few loud interests groups hijack the climate conversation. And when I say that, you know what I’m talking about? I’m talking about big companies that like it the way it is that don’t want to change, and spend a lot of money to keep you and me and everybody from doing what we know we need to do.” [Links are, of course, mine, not Kerry’s.]
But Kerry had plenty to say about action plans. We were looking at Amory Lovins last time. He has an expression: “I don’t do problems. I do solutions.” Well, that’s what Kerry came to: solutions. Having just Beijing, he talked about the heightened level of negotiations with the Chinese on climate change and the path to a new international climate regime. He talked about ending fossil fuel subsidies and increasing investment in renewables. He also flagged the $332.5 million Green Prosperity Project as part of the Indonesia Compact.
This was an important speech that is being noted all over the world, just as President Obama’s speech in Berlin was last June followed within a week by the rolling out of the new US Climate Action Plan. John Kerry and State are serious about climate and energy. So are President Obama and everyone in his administration. The US has submitted its current views on the international negotiations. Obama and François Hollande made explicit last week their joint commitment to substantial progress on climate and energy. The White House has highlighted climate impacts in its response to the devastating drought in California and in the creation of “Climate Hubs” for American farmers.
Kerry and the US government are ramping up the rhetoric and the action. You can see Secretary Kerry’s speech here.