US Secretary of State tells security experts climate challenge requires “collective leadership”
By Ed King
John Kerry has described the UN’s latest report on the science of climate change as “chilling” and warns of a “potential catastrophe” without urgent action.
The US Secretary of State made the remarks at the annual Munich Security Conference held at the weekend, citing terrorism, radical sectarianism, food security, water availability, and climate change as the “great tests of our time.”
He said: “I urge you, read the latest IPCC report. It’s really chilling. And what’s chilling is not rhetoric; it’s the scientific facts.
“And our history is filled with struggles through the Age of Reason and the Renaissance and the Enlightenment for all of us to earn some respect for science. The fact is that there is no doubt about the real day-to-day impact of the human contribution to the change in climate.”
Kerry also highlighted the potential financial benefits of moving to a low carbon economy, pointing to the $6 trillion energy market that will gain an extra five billion users by 2050.
“It is the mother of all markets, and only a few visionaries are doing what is necessary to reach out and touch it and grab it and command its future,” he said.
Published in September 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest assessment of the science of global warming runs to almost 1,300 pages.
The key message was that current emission levels of greenhouse gases are likely to see global temperatures rise significantly, leading to melting ice caps, rising sea levels and an increase in extreme weather events.
This year UN negotiators are working on a draft text for a global agreement on reducing emissions, set to be signed in Paris in 2015.
If successful it would be the first time the world’s two leading emitters – the USA and China – committed to binding reductions in carbon pollution.
Referring to continued disputes over the future of the Arctic, a region rich in oil and gas reserves, Kerry warned of an “absence of collective leadership” from politicians where the environment is concerned. “We have enormous challenges. None of them are unsolvable.
“That’s the agony of this moment for all of us. There are answers to all of these things, but there seems to be an absence of will, an absence of collective leadership,” he said.
.@CntrClimSec Climate change poses real security risks – including enviro catastrophes, displaced populations, conflict over resources…
— Ben Rhodes (@rhodes44) January 29, 2014
Last week Kerry’s State Department was heavily criticised by environmental groups over the weekend after it released a report saying the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would not have a “significant” effect on carbon pollution.
If constructed the pipeline would carry crude oil from tar sands from Canada to the USA’s Gulf Coast. Oil created from tar sands is 17% more energy intensive than traditional sources.