A Welcome Change: US Gets Praise & Applause at COP 20

It’s amazing how much people appreciate small action if it clearly comes from the heart, as evidenced by the reaction to the US at the Climate Summit in Peru.

The US delegation presented in detail the deal with China and forthcoming regulations on existing and new power plants – the most bold action our country has taken yet. The standing-room-only crowd of international delegates and journalists responded with lots of questions and applause, reports the NY Times.

The next day, Secretary of State John Kerry, also arrived with applause. He wasn’t expected and his presence wasn’t required, but he came anyway. During his 20 years as Senator, he attended every Climate Summit, often the only Congressperson there. 

John Kerry Climate Change Speech

The NY Times puts it aptly:

"When it comes to global warming, the United States has long been viewed as one of the world’s worst actors. American officials have been booed and hissed during international climate talks, bestowed with mock "Fossil of the Day" awards for resisting treaties, and widely condemned for demanding that other nations cut their fossil fuel emissions while refusing, year after year, to take action at home.

Suddenly, all that has changed.

At the global climate change negotiations now wrapping up in Peru, American negotiators are being met with something wildly unfamiliar: cheers, applause, thanks and praise. It is an incongruous moment, arriving at a time when so many aspects of American foreign policy are under fire."

Some of comments made to the NY Times give you a flavor of the reaction:  

"The U.S. is now credible on climate change," says Laurence Tubiana, the French climate change ambassador. 

"The US has shown, not only because of the announcement with China, but also the June 2 [power plants] rule, the political will to move this process, even with the difficulty between the executive branch and Congress," says Manuel Pulgar-Vidal,  Peru’s environment minister.

"Now the US has policies in place to deliver on its word," says Yvo de Boer, former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

"This is the first time in the history of the climate talks that the US Secretary of State has engaged directly in the climate talks," he says, referring to Kerry’s negotiation with China.

John Kerry was greeted by a cheering crowd

"Today I call on all of you here in Lima – negotiators, diplomats, scientists, economists, and concerned citizens in Peru and around the world – to demand resolve from your leaders.

Speak out. Make climate change an issue that no public official can ignore for even one more day, let alone for one more election. Make a transition towards clean energy the only policy that you’ll accept. And make it clear that an ambitious agreement in Paris is not an option, it’s an urgent necessity.

Read Kerry’s remarks at COP 20:

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Comments on “A Welcome Change: US Gets Praise & Applause at COP 20”

  1. A. G. Gelbert

    I don’t believe the USA is serious. WHY? Because the two key people just confirmed by the Senate to direct Energy Technology Development and the Distribution of funds are advocates of fossil fuels. One of them was INSTRUMENTAL in strangling Renewable Energy in the Reagan and subsequent Bush administration in the 1980’s. He is back!

    Details on Dr. Ellen Williams, former BP chief scientist and Joseph Hezir, former Exxon bean counter at links below:




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