If We Go Forward, Will Others Follow? John Kerry speaks on the U.S. role at COP15

John Kerry may not have always been a strong supporter of climate legislation but today he didn’t let us down. His speech was concise and well-spoken, harping on the positive impacts of American leadership. Kerry’s speech made me bubble-over with hope that when President Obama steps up plate on Friday, we can still make great headway with strong American initiative.

Warmly introduced by Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer, Kerry spoke of responsibility the U.S. Government and other developed countries owe to the developing countries, holding fast to the old saying “we have a common but differentiated responsibility.” Here at COP15, developed countries are particularly struggling to match the financial needs of developing nations and small island states, to which we owe our support after years of unchecked pollution.

Apart from international climate negotiations, Kerry focused on things closer to home as well. He was confident that a climate bill would pass in the Senate early next year while others remain not so sure. But his message today stressed that change would not come quickly. He offered insight to the minds of senators across the U.S. as they approach to climate legislation. Whether the ACES climate bill is passed or not, did not seem to effect Kerry’s view of the how the U.S. will progress. “More than 1,000 mayors are taking strict measures to aim towards Kyoto targets–and a number of cities are actually getting close on their own. Across America, grassroots initiatives are sprouting up as citizens lead their leaders,” said an enthusiastic Kerry. To the youth in attendance, this was almost as if being called out by name. I personally was thrilled.

This news comes as a reason for hope to many whom doubt the U.S. will take the reins and pull the rest of the world in towards a binding climate treaty. Kerry argued that, “If Dick Cheney can argue that even a 1% chance of a terrorist attack is 100% justification for preemptive action—then surely, when scientists tell us that climate change is nearly a 100% certainty, we ought to be able to stand together, all of us, and join in an all out effort to combat a mortal threat to the life of this planet.” I think with this quote I will end, allowing you to contemplate the moral and social demands of this statement.

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