As the environmental community collectively holds our breath waiting for the final decision on the Keystone tar sands pipeline, the key person in that decision is barnstorming the globe on the need to urgently address climate change.
That person is our Secretary of State, John Kerry, a long-time champion on climate change. With his deep knowledge of the issue and his commitment to dealing with it, it’s unfathomable that we have to wonder whether he will recommend that President Obama approve the Keystone pipeline.
Kerry says climate change will be front and center in all US diplomatic efforts and this week, he is directing all US embassies to "make climate change a top priority and use all the tools of diplomacy that they have at their disposal."
Starting in Jakarta, Indonesia – one of most vulnerable countries to rising sea levels – Kerry gave the first of many speeches over the weekend, laying out over 45 minutes the "compelling and undeniable scientific case" of the changing climate that is "pushing the planet towards a tipping point of no return," and that threatens their entire way of life.
Broadcast live across Indonesia, he focused on the impacts Asia is experiencing, calling on citizens to be part of the solution. "Today I call on all of you in Indonesia and concerned citizens around the
world to demand the resolve that is necessary from your leaders. Speak out. Make climate change an issue that no public official can ignore for another day. Make a transition towards clean energy the only plan that you are willing to accept."
"The science of climate change is leaping out at us like a scene from a 3-D movie. It’s warning us; it’s compelling us to act. Let there be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the science is absolutely certain."
He announced the US would commit $332 million to the Green Prosperity program to help Indonesia halt deforestation while supporting growth of renewable energy.
He called it stunning that so little progress has been made since Rio 1992 when 170 nations agreed on the urgency of climate change.
"When I think about the array of global threats – terrorism, epidemics, poverty, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction – the reality is that climate change ranks right up there with every single one of them," he said in Indonesia. "Climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction."
While coal and oil are cheap right now, he urged governments to measure their full cost and what will happen down the road from carbon pollution. He understands the push/pull for governments, but asked them to "factor in the cost of survival." "Governments will find that the cost of pursuing clean energy now is far cheaper than paying for the consequences of climate change later."
"It is time for the world to approach this problem with the cooperation, the urgency, and the commitment that a challenge of this scale warrants."
"If we come together now, we can not only meet the challenge, we can create jobs and economic growth in every corner of the globe. We can clean up the air, we can improve the health of people, we can have greater security; we can make our neighborhoods healthier places to live; we can help ensure that
farmers and fishers can still make a sustainable living and feed our
communities; and we can avoid disputes and even entire wars over oil, water, and other limited resources. We can make good on the moral responsibility we all have to leave future generations with a planet that is clean and healthy and sustainable for the future."
"We can meet this challenge, the greatest challenge of our generation, and we can create the future that everybody dreams of."
A Clue on Keystone?
Kerry said, "We just don’t have time to let a few loud interest groups hijack the climate conversation." "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.
"We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists … and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific fact." "The science is unequivocal and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand."
Before speaking in Indonesia, Kerry met with leaders in China, and said "leaders of China agree that it is time to pursue a cleaner path forward." both countries agreed to share "information and policies so that we can help develop plans to deal with the U.N. climate change negotiation that takes place in Paris next year."
We’re counting on you, John Kerry!!!
Here is his speech:
Or read Kerry’s speech: