Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Kerry: Climate Change 'Enormous Cloud Hanging Over All of Us'

    While the attention of much of the world Sunday was focused on the massive unity rally in France in response to the recent terror attacks in that country, Secretary of State John Kerry was in India for a "global business" summit where he spoke of, among other concerns, the "one enormous cloud hanging over all of us which requires responsibility from leaders. Global climate change[.]" Kerry said that climate change is "violently affecting communities" worldwide, but that the silver lining in his view is that responding to climate change offers an "unprecedented number of plusses, and frankly, almost no downside." His full remarks on the subject came during his speech at the opening ceremony of the summit [emphasis added]:
I am convinced, as we look to the relationship of the future though, just as Ban Ki-moon mentioned a few minutes ago, there is one enormous cloud hanging over all of us which requires responsibility from leaders. Global climate change is already violently affecting communities not just across India but around the world. It is disrupting commerce, development, and economic growth. It’s costing farmers crops. It’s costing insurance companies unbelievable payouts. It’s raising the cost of doing business, and believe me, if it continues down the current trend-line, we will see climate refugees fighting each other for water and seeking food and new opportunity. 
So this is a relationship between India and the United States where we believe very deeply that we could turn sustainable economic growth opportunities into a prosperity we have ever seen before. And it means one very [simple] thing: Unlike many problems in public life where you struggle sometimes between the plusses and minuses of a particular choice you make – and leaders here all know and business leaders all know what I’m talking about – the choices of climate change offer an unprecedented number of plusses, and frankly, almost no downside. If we make the choices that are staring us in the face, the fact is that a solution to climate change is already here. It’s called energy policy. Sustainable energy policy. And in a sustainable energy policy comes a whole set of benefits to our economy, something many countries of the world are screaming for today.
    While the bulk of Kerry's talk centered on economic and business issues, he did pay tribute to the rally in France:
We may all come from different walks of life, but we stand together this morning with the people of France as they march in tribute to the victims of last week’s murderous attack on the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. And we stand together not just in anger and outrage, but in solidarity and commitment to the cause of confronting extremism and in the cause that extremists fear so much and that has always united our countries – freedom. We stand together in freedom and together we make it clear that no act of terror will ever stop the march of freedom. (Applause.)
    Kerry's complete remarks at the opening ceremony can be found here.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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