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Kerry Pledges To Confront Climate Change: ‘I Will Be A Passionate Advocate’ Of Action

By Rebecca Leber  

"Kerry Pledges To Confront Climate Change: ‘I Will Be A Passionate Advocate’ Of Action"

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At his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) took a strong position on the urgent need for climate action.

Kerry’s likely confirmation is good news for confronting climate change. He has a long career as a climate hawk, taking to the Senate floor to call for action on our “biggest long-term threat” to national security. With the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline in the next Secretary of State’s hands, his remarks may mean some hope for the administration’s decision on the tar sands project. He urged senators to consider the cost of climate inaction, saying “I will spend a lot of time trying to persuade you and other colleagues of this.”

Kerry responded forcefully to Sen. John Barrasso’s (R-WY) concerns over environmental protections hampering the economy:

I would respectfully say to you that climate change is not something to be feared in response to — the steps to respond to — it’s to be feared if we don’t. 3,500 communities in our nation last year broke records for heat … and we had a derailment because of it. We had record fires. We had record levels of damage from sandy, $70 billion. If we can’t see the downside of spending that money and risking lives for all the changes that are taking place, to agriculture, to our communities, the ocean and so forth, we are ignoring what science is telling us. I will be a passionate advocate on this not based on ideology but based on facts and science, and I hope to sit with all of you and convince you that this $6 trillion market is worth millions of American jobs and we better go after it.

Watch it:

Kerry also noted the extraordinary success story renewables play in his home state’s economy. “I can tell you, Massachusetts, fastest growing sector of our economy is clean energy and energy efficiency companies. And they’re growing faster than any other sector,” he said.

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31 Responses to Kerry Pledges To Confront Climate Change: ‘I Will Be A Passionate Advocate’ Of Action

  1. Sasparilla says:

    As pointed out by others, its good to keep in mind that Senator Kerry has close to $800,000 in investments in the two Canadian Tar Sands companies – Suncor and Cenovus.

    The stocks of those two companies would go through the roof if the XL is approved.

    Although the final say on the XL will come from the White House via the Sec State.

    • Chris Winter says:

      This is a genuine concern. But how big a portion of his portfolio would these be? I’d expect them to be a relatively small portion. If so, he might easily divest himself of them. He might have to do that in order to gain confirmation.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        He is a rich chap, like most US politicians, A true plutocracy. If he divests openly, the far Right will see it as a sign that he will veto Keystone, and ‘spit the dummy’. Of course, as it is a symbol of elite money power, I do not expect him to do so, or do it in some underhand way that protects the rich.

        • Superman1 says:

          Note the Aussies have found an oil reserve worth about $20T (http://now.msn.com/trillions-in-oil-discovered-in-australian-outback). Undoubtedly, they’ll just let it sit there, so they can be the moral leaders on climate change (heh-heh-heh).

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            Superman, as one of many who oppose all such developments, I find that statement says more about your attitudes than it does about our motives, ME

        • Sasparilla says:

          Chris and Mulga, you both have good points here – he’d need to divest himself of it (hopefully…), but doing so will also make the GOP think he’s going to turn on the XL – although this is all under the radar at the moment.

          I’m just disappointed he has any investments in these guys in the first place, when he’s a believer in climate change and wants action on it (there’s a lot of other places to invest, even in energy, that don’t involve the Canadian Tar Sands)…I mean its one thing to be rich and not be all green…but to actually have investments in the Canadian Tar Sands companies? Very disappointing…

    • I’d be careful about making to much of Kerry’s stock holdings. It’s speculative and a distraction. We have next to zero context for this data point. How much of his wealth is tied up in this? When did he buy it, or did he inherit it, or does it belong to his wife (who is wealthy beyond imagining, don’t forget)? Does he have other stock that would benefit more from the denial of KXL?. And we have zero influence on it.

      Let’s discuss stuff we can raise consciousness about or take action on.

      Public officials face this sort of thing all the time–as do we. We can all construe a story where our investments or livelihoods would be enhanced by some political machination. For example, all of us are financially better off in the short term if we ignore climate disruption. But of course we don’t do that.

      Kerry isn’t going to be so venal as to betray his core principles because he happens to hold a position in a stock, which could be put into a blind trust, sold, or (if you really want to get into some circular conspiracy-think) even shorted if he were dastardly enough to use his office for direct personal gain and knew with certainty he was going to succeed in quashing KXL. (Yeah, the Suncor stock–just a cover! He’s gonna unload it and buy a ton of puts the hour before he announces “no-go”!!) There are laws about that.

      In short, it’s incidental and irrelevant.

      Much more important is the public statement. We should take it at face value, and take it to heart.

      • Sasparilla says:

        You’re right Change, in the end its just a distraction. Your parody with the Suncor stock and puts had me laughing – and the decision will be Obama’s to make anyways, not Kerry’s (although even with the stock I’d rather have Kerry making it).

      • Yes, I’m with you on this too. I happen to think Kerry is a man of integrity, and if the stock is an issue he’ll deal with it.

        What I hope doesn’t happen is that Keystone gets approved after all, and we then have to listen to a bunch of nauseating crap from Jay Carney about how the administration is gonna do this and that in the future because “the President really cares about this issue.”

        We’ll know in a couple of months.

      • James W. Crissman says:

        I wonder if it’s part of a mutual fund. It’s nearly impossible to select mutual funds in the context of a retirement portfolio and not include oil stocks. We need some mutual funds focused on those of us who would like to divest but have little flexibility to do so.

  2. Nick says:

    I hope he keeps pressing the issue. Can’t believe some people are still denying the issue despite the overwhelming mountain of evidence. Give workers in the oil/gas field some sort of incentive to cross over into the renewables field maybe. The cost of inaction would be far greater.

    • Calamity Jean says:

      Coal miners also need alternative employment. There has to be SOMETHING that will make money for people in the Appalachians.

  3. Chris Winter says:

    I’ve got to say I don’t like that top picture of Senator Kerry. It looks like some kind of a parody.

  4. sault says:

    Sen. Kerry is a great legislator and will make a great Secretary…but ohmahgawd his extemporaneous speaking skills are one of the big reasons why Bush the Younger got 8 years in the White House instead of 4!

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Kerry lost in 2004 because Bush’s cronies stole Ohio, by hacking computers. A ‘Well Known Fact’. Probably pay-back for the Democrats stealing it in 1960, for JFK, in Chicago.

  5. BillD says:

    That’s what we want–policy based on science. Great job John Kerry!

  6. SecularAnimist says:

    I agree with sault. During the 2004 Democratic primary campaign, I watched Kerry’s numerous, painfully inarticulate failures to communicate clearly to audiences of Democratic voters. He accomplished the amazing feat of making George W. Bush look like an eloquent orator by comparison.

    And unfortunately, the excerpt from his testimony confirms that he remains one of the WORST public speakers in the modern history of American politics, literally unable to put together a single, simple, coherent sentence.

    Let’s hope that the future of US policy on climate change does not depend on John Kerry’s ability to communicate the seriousness and urgency of the issue to the American people.

  7. I think it’s a great video clip, in which Senator Kerry is speaking in an effective and appropriate way for the situation, speaking to other senators from the hearing room witness table.

    And I think that, in this clip, Senator Kerry really nails the argument that addressing climate change is a great U.S. economic opportunity.

    When U.S. and international elites are the key obstacle to necessary levels of climate action, here and worldwide, Kerry seems to me like an outstanding, inspired pick for the Secretary of State position.

  8. rmwarnick says:

    It’s hard to believe that Kerry really thinks anything can get done on climate/energy before it’s too late. Because the Senate still has the silent filibuster, and it takes 60 votes to get legislation passed.

  9. Sydna Uteg says:

    Do we want to kill the planet and our children; because we know how to be stubborn?
    This is not a new issue. Back in the 70′s we were warned this day would come and we did nothing.
    Now it will be harder and more costly but we can still breath. Tar Sands? No, thank you, but it is to destructive to the environment. Fracking? No, you’d understand if your water came from a well.
    We tried it the Republican way and it doesn’t work for the majority. Now we will try the Democrats way. If it doesn’t work we move to the next idea. Something will work but we need to build and restructure for our future. Stop blaming others for the inability of our leaders to communicate respectfully with the President and each other. It’s time to stop being selfish and build for the future.

  10. Chris Winter says:

    The Boston Globe, in a story published 16 hours ago, notes that Kerry and his wife will divest themselves of numerous holdings that raise ethical questions. These include Cenovus Energy, the Canadian company that stands to benefit from the Keystone XL pipeline.

    • Leif says:

      Oh good. Get out while the stocks are hot and give the loss to others if XL tanks. Why not just give it all to charity and take a tax credit. He will still come out on top of course.

  11. Mike Roddy says:

    Passing on a suggestion from a climate scientist friend:

    Kerry, with Obama’s approval, should open climate negotiations with China on the ministerial level.

    • Dennis Tomlinson says:

      Yes, as a start. Soon afterward, and with Chinese consent phase in India, the EU, the rest of the BRICs, etc., eventually (and soon) to present a united consortium at the UN for first, fast, and final (tweaks allowed as needed) plan for dealing effectively with AGW. Peak emissions in 2015, rapid declines thereafter; Compensation for the blameless; Plans for adaptation for the inevitable. And so on…

    • John McCormick says:

      Mike, we keep asking and getting ignored.

      Should we ask the big green (I’m beginning to think of them as the Sesame Street gang) to pass along our suggestion when they next sit down with White House staff?

      The letter to the President yesterday from the Climate caucus mentioned EPA and DOE and did not consider State and the President’s capacity to negotiate with the highest levels of China’s government.

      What are we waiting for?

  12. Ozonator says:

    Another good sign with Senator Kerry is that extremist media outlets have yet to collect enough blood money to start with the bullyragging.

  13. Jan says:

    I agree that having these investments (which reportedly include Exxon Mobil which funded climate denial) in the first place regardless of the percentage is disappointing. I suppose actions and ethics don’t mean much anymore. The Keystone XL is only being used as a political bargaining chip at this point. There is also so much more besides that whether it gets approved or not that the Obama administration has already done regarding tarsands (Alberta Clipper line already pumping in tarsands,) the Bakken oil shale that can be seen from space, the Arctic and the coming of Utah Tarsands. It’s to the point where words mean little when they come from Washington DC.