Clinton warns climate change is an “unambiguous security threat” that could spark worldwide conflicts, Kerry embraces 350 ppm

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"Clinton warns climate change is an “unambiguous security threat” that could spark worldwide conflicts, Kerry embraces 350 ppm"

UPDATE (below): Sen. Kerry embraces a 350 ppm target.

hillary-clinton.jpg

I listened to Chu’s confirmation, not Clinton’s, but Greenwire (subs. req’d) has the scoop on what the Secretary of State designee warned senators about energy and climate:

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Democratic New York senator vowed to make energy policy a central part of the State Department’s diplomatic mission. She also said the State Department under President-elect Barack Obama will participate in the U.N. negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, aimed at finalizing a new global emissions treaty by the end of the year.

“We will pursue an energy policy that reduces our carbon emissions while reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” Clinton told the panel.

Clinton, of course, made energy and climate issues a centerpiece of her campaign(see “Clinton’s outstanding energy and climate plan“). She will be a key play in Obama’s cabinet on these issues (see “Stuff I learned at DOE, Part 1: SOS trumps NSA (Hillary Clinton trumps Gen. Jones”). The story makes clear that Senate leaders on both sides understand the importance of energy and climate to international policy:

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who replaces Vice President-elect Joe Biden (D-Del.) as chairman of the foreign relations panel, said he believes climate change needs to be a top-tier State Department issue and said it would be a central issue for his committee this year.

“Many today do not see global climate change as a national security threat, but it is, and profoundly so,” Kerry said.

Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the panel’s top Republican, said energy policy overall must be given “a much higher priority in our diplomacy.” Noting the energy squeeze that Russian President Vladimir Putin is putting on Europe, Lugar noted that energy vulnerability “constrains our diplomatic ability around the world.”

“Energy security must be at the top of our agenda with nearly every country,” Lugar said.

UPDATE: Bill McKibben emails me that Kerry (like Gore) has embraced 350 ppm (see “Stabilize at 350 ppm or risk ice-free planet, warn NASA, Yale, Sheffield, Versailles, Boston et al“). Perhaps even more amazingly, this news made Maureen Dowd’s column:

After his windy discourse on how scientists had “revised the levels of supportable greenhouse gas emissions from 550 parts per million to 450 to now 350,” Hillary replied: “You are eloquent in describing it, and you’ve been a leader in trying to sound the alarm on it for many years.”

Yes, Dowd is snarky — not that there’s anything wrong with that — but the mere fact that it made her usually substance-free column is a pretty big deal.

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5 Responses to Clinton warns climate change is an “unambiguous security threat” that could spark worldwide conflicts, Kerry embraces 350 ppm

  1. Jake Schmidt says:

    Her confirmation hearing provided some strong signals from our top diplomat that she and the new Administration are going to be seriously engaged in moving the international elements of solving global warming. We need both a strong domestic push and international push.

    Senator Clinton’s signal about the impact of global warming on other key State Department priorities is a strong signal of things to come. I hope that she pushes forward aggressively in getting a strong international agreement on global warming in Copenhagen.

    There are continuing positive signs from developing countries as the South African Environment Minister was speaking in DC at the same time that Clinton was testifying. He provided some strong hints of the willingness of South Africa and other emerging economies to contribute to global efforts. I posted excerpts of his speech here: http://tinyurl.com/SA-climate.

    There are continuing positive signs from developing countries as the South African Environment Minister was speaking in DC at the same time that Clinton was testifying. He provided some strong hints of the willingness of South Africa and other emerging economies to contribute to global efforts. I posted excerpts of his speech here: http://tinyurl.com/SA-climate.

  2. jorleh says:

    I often wonder if your politicians read your blog. And I find some clues that they do. Why not? A top politician don´t have time to think science but her or his advisers know (perhaps not Bush´s) where the science is about right or where it is upside down.

  3. Greg Robie says:

    I did listen to Secretary of State designate Clinton’s confirmation hearing. Unlike what is reported here, what I heard greatly concerns me. As background, my bias is that with the accelerating summer ice melt in the Arctic arriving well in advance of what any modeling anticipated, and methane hydrates’ thawing arriving way in advance of that same modeling, Senator Clinton talked about the need to be prepared to know where our drilling rights extend to, as well as shipping opportunities an open northwest passage affords. This is exemplary of a misinformed, if not ignorant, hubris (if one takes her testimony concerning her concern for the environment and climate change at face value).

    Related to this, and with the intent of augmenting another Climate Progress blog entry that included NASA’s measurement of the global average of CH4, I feel that this is a more relevant NOAA chart

  4. Greg Robie says:

    I see that HTML messes up ones comment. The chart is at this URL http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/globalview/ch4/ch4_intro.html. The rest of my post I will have to rewrite and repost.

  5. Greg Robie says:

    Previous comment continued:

    A global average is misleading. Methane appears to originate in the northern hemisphere and migrate south. Given how its global distribution is strongly concentrated in the northern hemisphere, and increases in the Arctic during its winter months (likely due, in part, to the same atmospheric dynamics that concentrate other temperate zone released air pollutants in the Arctic), this, in conjunction with the unwelcomed news reported in another Climate Progress blog entry (http://climateprogress.org/2008/12/18/arctic-research-center-the-underwater-permafrost-is-thawing-and-releasing-methane/) of a new–and not yet anticipated–source of atmospheric methane, Senator Clinton seems to be relatively clueless concerning the threat of mass extinction posed by the “untimely” thawing of methane hydrates in the Arctic (and this in spite of her expertise and qualifications). Her comments about Copenhagen and the developing world’s required actions for the US to embrace the world’s next (our–maybe–1st climate change mitigating treaty mirrors the hubris of Israel’s foreign policy toward Hamas (an I won’t do what is nice until the people I have made sure cannot be nice are nice–or something like that).

    In any event, my highest expectations for Ms Clinton (actually both of them, as Chelsea was also at the confirmation hearing) is that through her efforts to act on her stated passion for women’s rights, she will not pursue this work through a strategy that feeds–and trusts–the extractive and exploitive dynamics of global capitalism that has tipped the planet into klimakatastrophe. Such would be counter to the wisdom that the female gender is generally/psychoneuroimmunoendocrinologically entrusted with for the betterment of society. Such would systemically sabotage her efforts.

    The unanswered question is: “Is she such a woman?”