U.S. Is Setting an Example to the World on Climate Change: America's Measures To Cut Carbon Emissions Must Lead to a Global Agreement

Posted by John Kerry
June 3, 2014
Steam from a Coal-Fired Power Plant is Silhouetted Against the Sun
Carbon pollution is a direct cause of global climate change. This is a simple, scientific fact -- a fact that compels us to act.
 
The threats posed by climate change are real. We already feel the impact in our coastal communities. We feel it in more dangerous storms and spreading droughts. Scientists warn that this is only the beginning -- that if we fail to act now, the world as we know it will change dramatically for the worse.
 
On Monday, President Barack Obama took the latest and most ambitious step by any American administration to meet our responsibilities to protect the climate. The Environmental Protection Agency for the first time proposed limits on carbon emissions from power plants that have been polluting for decades.
 
Once finalised, these limits alone will reduce U.S. power sector emissions by as much as 30 per cent by 2030. They will avoid up to 6,500 premature deaths and prevent 150,000 asthma attacks in children each year, according to EPA calculations.
 
Over the past five years, domestically and with our international partners, the U.S. has done more to reduce the threat of climate change than in the two previous decades. Today, thanks to President Obama’s climate action plan, the U.S. is well on the way to meeting our international commitment to cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
 
That progress has occurred because we are going straight to the largest sources. We have been targeting emissions that come from our cars, trucks and power plants -- which together account for more than 60 per cent of the greenhouse gases that are destroying our climate.
 
At the same time, Americans have doubled the amount of energy that we are generating from wind and solar sources, and have become smarter about the way we use energy in our homes and businesses. As a result, today we are emitting less than we have in nearly two decades.
 
But even as we strive to do better, we recognise that no country can solve this problem alone. Even if the U.S. somehow eliminated all our domestic greenhouse gas emissions, it still would not be enough. The rest of the world is spewing too much carbon pollution. Indeed, if even a few key economies fail to respond to this threat, the world will be unable to cut carbon pollution enough to safeguard our environment.
 
Global co-operation is required. Industrialised countries have to play a leadership role in reducing emissions, but that does not mean other nations have the right to repeat the mistakes of the past.
 
When big nations including the U.S. were industrialising, we did not know the environmental impact that would come as a result, nor did we have better alternatives. Today, the world has alternatives -- the question is not whether to grow, but how. And today, we understand that emissions coming from anywhere threaten the future for people everywhere.
 
President Obama recognises the urgency. That is why he has made clear that the U.S. is prepared to play a leading role, both in getting our own house in order and in bringing other nations to the table. We have to work with other players such as the EU, China, India, and Brazil.  
 
Together, we are making important progress. We can and must do more. For example, the U.S. and EU are pioneers of clean energy technology, and we are working together to deploy that technology to the developing countries where the need is greatest. Think about what cheap, abundant and clean energy sources could mean for less-developed nations striving to grow stronger and wealthier. We are also working alongside the UK, the Netherlands and others to limit investments in high-carbon energy infrastructure.
 
For the world to overcome the enormous threat climate change poses, we need every country to do everything within its power to pursue cleaner and healthier energy sources. We need to pursue the UN climate negotiations with vigour and determination toward an ambitious global agreement in Paris next year.
 
Even as we work together, every nation must also act on its own to develop and implement ambitious plans to reduce emissions and build a cleaner, more efficient and sustainable future.
 
When it comes to climate change, we cannot close our eyes and cover our ears. We cannot ignore the facts accepted by 97 per cent of the world’s climate change scientists. We cannot pretend not to know any better, and pursue policies that increase the threat instead of eliminating it when we have the means to meet this challenge in our hands.
 
The choices the world makes now will influence the lives of many generations to come. If we make the right choices, we can meet the challenge of climate change and create jobs and economic growth in every corner of the globe.
 
The U.S. is setting a responsible example. We will need leaders and people around the world to do the same.
 
Editor's Note: This entry originally appeared as an opinion piece in the Financial Times. To learn more about President Obama's Action Plan, visit www.whitehouse.gov/climate-change.
 
Go to www.state.gov/secretary and follow @JohnKerry on Twitter for more from the Secretary of State.
 
About the Author: John Kerry serves as the 68th Secretary of State.

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Comments

Bill R.
|
United States
June 4, 2014

What an odyssey John Kerry has made, from Vietnam Vet Against the War, to one of the most rancid imperialists around. I love this quote: "Think about what cheap, abundant and clean energy sources could mean for less-developed nations striving to grow stronger and wealthier. We are also working alongside the UK, the Netherlands and others to limit investments in high-carbon energy infrastructure" -- and of course, this commentary first appeared in the Financial Times. Mr. Kerry is simply advocating the suppression of economic development in the emerging economies, under the guise of concern for the environment. If by "cheap, abundant and clean energy sources" he meant nuclear energy, that would be a helpful step, but of course, that's not what he means. He means costly energy sources like solar and wind, that produce a meaningless trickle of energy. Third World nations that hope to survive are going to have to look for assistance from someone other than the U.S. under its present misleadership. I am heartened by the recent agreement between Argentina and Bolivia to develop nuclear energy in Bolivia. If John Kennedy were alive today, we would be helping Bolivia go nuclear.

Eric J.
|
New Mexico, USA
June 5, 2014

Dear Sec. Kerry,

 Fellow hops into his doctor's office looking for all the world like a human pretzel, one arm tristed behind his back grabbing an ear the other all wraped arond one leg with his foot stuck up his nether regions...and pleads with his doc, "Doctor , Doctor can you help me? this hurts!"

  Doc says, "Well, stop doing that!"

  Whether the issue be industrial pollution, or the pollution of the social atmoshere caused by dictators and tyrants the world over, you're the doctor in the house. So please feel free to pass on this cure for political stupidity for me to all those who need unwravelling in their idiocy.

  Someday I hope I can finish this book I started on your dept.'s blog when it was founded, called; "The Cure for Political Stupidity and/or How Not to go to War with America" , but I need your help if the twisted are ever going to stop inspiring me to keep adding chapter and verse to it.

  Just saying....I'm trying to get on with writing the sequal to it called "Change we can live with."

  Sooner the better...and don't let the world be late. Thanks!

  Best regards,

  EJ

Eric J.
|
New Mexico, USA
June 12, 2014

Mr. Secretary,

Seriously though, there's abysmal glut of political stupidity at odds with the cooperation neccessary to deal with threats to the global community, its populations and governments.

Can't have the number of conflicts and dysfunctional ideologies creating them; interfereing in the global focus and will needed to either reverse, or deal with global warming and its causes.

All the while this nation's media is consumed with controversy of a lesser nature; than millions of people displaced (a half a million within the past week), hundreds of thousands dead, nations destroyed, destabilized, annexed, terrorized by militias , terrorists, and corruption of all sorts, a brealdown of civil order and trade, economic failure, infrastructure failure, famine, disease...you don't need to wait decades for it to change the equasion. It is in process.

While no one seems to have the (or any) diplomatic solution to dealing with a world, or some in it, who seem hell bent on drawing the US into armed conflict again, along with NATO, whether we (the citizens concerned) like it or not.

It's a test to see how nations deal cooperatively with millions of the "tired, poor, downtrodden masses yearning to be free" to paraphrase a statue...and makes immigration reform as a legistalitve agenda item pale in comparison, being on the global scale of crisis management.

Makes the political spin twisted to suit political agenda  ...opinions add insanitorium yammering incessantly regarding a POW who's innocent until proven guilty of "taking a walk",
.... while on duty,

unworthy of further comment as it won't be publishable.

Maybe now folks can visualize the cunundrum we ( the citizens concerned) face.

I don't suppose anyone can save folks from themselves....could be a "fool's errand"....but to engage or disengage is not the question,

when it becomes aquainted the applied leverage born of national security interests.

But what of international security? Folks must come to grips with the present lack of...period.

While the reasonable ponder the war between the sane and the insane.....hoping for a miracle.

Aye, there's a paradox in that,

as the UN is paralized to act to protect populations when a nation be unable or unwilling to protect their own, and/or make war on their own people as well as the immediate environment.

 So what of change we can live with, when it's a matter of sink or swim,..sanity and/or fear,... life and death and all the rest?

 This is a test...only a test....of the Dipnote emergency broadcast system....one may hope it makes too much sense to ignore,

but may never know who reads these things....or what a notion might be worth if it did.

EJ

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