State Department Prioritizes Climate Change

Climate change has made to the top of the priority list for the US State Department.

In its Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) – which reviews current policies and develops a strategic blueprint for the rest of the decade – there are four policy "imperatives" for the State Department and USAID:

  • Preventing conflict and violent extremism
  • Promoting resilient democratic societies
  • Advancing inclusive economic growth – shared prosperity
  • Fighting climate change

In announcing the QDDR, Secretary of State John Kerry says: "Each of these priorities relates to the need for better governance across the globe. They’re all linked."

John Kerry Climate Change Speech 

For Climate Change, the goals are:

  • Strengthen climate diplomacy: strengthen expertise in the department’s regional bureaus on climate change; promote clean energy technology at priority posts; direct all bureaus and offices to designate personnel that serve as climate leaders.
  • Strengthen staff understanding of and engagement in climate issues: educate all staff on climate-related issues, incorporating climate-related knowledge into core competencies.
  • Integrate climate change into all diplomatic and development efforts: accelerate integration of climate change mitigation and resilience throughout policy, programming, and operations, including development of systems to assess and adjust for climate change impacts in compliance with Executive Order 13677 on Climate-Resilient International Development.
  • Designate critical countries for in-depth climate engagement: intensify engagement with countries that are most vulnerable to climate-related challenges, with those that play key roles in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and with those that can influence neighboring countries to meet international climate goals.
  • Expand climate and clean energy diplomacy beyond capitals: complement crucial climate negotiations between nation-states with direct engagement with mayors, governors, faith leaders, women’s groups, and business leaders, and seek their support in making commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Last year, Kerry went on a climate barnstorming tour, calling 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," Kerry said. 

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