John Kerry’s overall message? The science of climate change is undeniable.
The “science of climate change is screaming at us and telling us to act.”
You would think it would be harder to sneak into a meeting with the current United States Secretary of State.
Yesterday at the United Nations International Conference on Climate Change Secretary of State, John Kerry, gave an exclusive press briefing concerning the official stance and goals of the USA. The only problem was this event was only open to those with press credentials.
However, we knew that this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, and immediately started scheming on how we could get into one of the most important events at COP20.
We considered just confidently walking straight in and not acknowledge the security guards. We thought we could possibly track down a media friend and ask to use their badge to get in. We contemplated pleading with the security guards, trying to convince them the importance of students attending such a high-level event. We even thought about claiming we didn’t speak English and therefore didn't understand no.
At the end of the day, did any of these methods work? No.
We quickly walked up the stairs of the press building and directly into the conference room. The security guard gave us a quick nod, and that was it! We were in.
John Kerry flew in yesterday morning and went straight to the military compound where the UN Conference is being held. The anticipation in the room was palpable as his appearance at the Conference is a direct reflection on the United States’ commitment to creating a draft treaty in Lima for the Paris negotiations next year.
If the countries of the world do not create AND sign a draft treaty TONIGHT here in Lima, then it is likely that there WILL NOT BE a universal climate change agreement in Paris next year.
When we saw John Kerry enter the room, we may have squealed with enthusiasm.
Nina-> “HE’S HERE. HE IS ACTUALLY HERE”
Standing tall and wearing a green tie (coincidental? I think not) he began to speak about the United State’s position on climate change.
First, he referenced the Green Fund, which is supposed to hold 100 billion dollars, donated by all nations throughout the world, by 2020 in order to help developing countries adapt to climate change.
He praised Peru, Australia, and Belgium for contributing to the fund this week. The target for this week was to gather 10 billion dollars and this goal has been exceeded.
“All of this will help to ensure that this fund can succeed in helping the most overburdened nations of the world to do more to be able to respond to climate change.”
Then, John Kerry spoke about how climate change should be considered equal with other national security threats.
“Measured against the array of global threats that we face today—and there are many—terrorism, extremism, poverty, nuclear proliferation—all challenges that know no borders—climate change absolutely ranks up there equal with all of them.”
Now to give the urgency of this issues some perspective. John Kerry has attended every one of these climate negotiations since the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.
That was the year that I was born. He has been attending these conferences to take action on climate change for 22 years.
In 22 years there has yet to be a global agreement on how to reduce our global carbon emissions and prevent global temperatures from rising above the 3.6 degree Fahrenheit increase.
Kerry pointed out that all of us here are committed, but we have to start being candid.
“This is personal for me, as it is personal for you.”
He continued on by mentioning how it is important for every nation to take responsibility. We can only “pass this climate test” if every nation does their part.
He shared the U.S.’s opinion about the responsibility of developing nations. These nations, such as China and India, emit half of the world’s carbon emissions and thus do not get a free pass. They also have to step up to the plate.
An important message that he shared is that it is NOT TOO LATE to act.
“Mankind is causing it, and mankind can solve it.”
The answer, according to Kerry, lies within transforming the energy sector. Cutting emissions in the energy sector through effective energy policy is the solution.
We cannot understate the urgency in his speech to act.
The thing is, we THINK we have time. But the FACT is that we just simply don’t have the time to argue back and forth about who is responsible to act.
What can we do?
“Speak out and call upon your leaders with the issues that concern you, such as climate change, so much that no public figure can ignore it any longer.”
Our country has to look further down the road. The costs of climate change in the long run severely outweigh the short-term costs to mitigate climate change today. Acting now is the cheaper alternative.
John Kerry's speech was well received by everyone in the room. For the first time, the United States is somewhat stepping up to the plate and accepting responsibility. This can be seen in the China and U.S. deal as well as with the EPA's amendment to the Clean Air Act attempting to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants. I'll end with a last quote from John Kerry.
“If you are a big developed nation and you do not lead, you are part of the problem."
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Photo used under Creative Commons from Noel Feans