Kerry urges Indonesians to take action on climate change

John Kerry praised Indonesia for it’s rich biodiversity but says that’s now at risk due to climate change. Photo credit: Rainforest Action Network via flickr.

By Anders Lorenzen

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has been turning his attention to climate action. But while most American environmentalists are hoping for a statement that would signal the rejection of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, he has turned his attention outside the US. In a recent visit to Indonesia he urged the country to take action on climate change.

Indonesia are the 15th largest emitter of CO2 while some it is due to the burning of oil, gas and coal, the majority is due to deforestation in the Indonesian rainforest. In the rainforest in Indonesia some of the fastest deforestation rates in the world are being recorded.

In his keynote speech delivered in the capital Jakarta, John Kerry told of his fascination with the rich biodiversity Indonesia can bolster in which he said is unique, but that rich biodiversity is also at critical risk due to climate change which means Indonesia is one of the most vulnerable countries on earth. He continued by outlining that the way of life for people in Indonesia is at great risk and that Jakarta lies at the frontline of climate change: “When I think about the array of global climate – of global threats – think about this: terrorism, epidemics, poverty, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction – all challenges that know no borders – the reality is that climate change ranks right up there with every single one of them. And it is a challenge that I address in nearly every single country that I visit as Secretary of State, because President Obama and I believe it is urgent that we do so,’’ Kerry stated.

Following up from almost every single speech on climate change Barack Obama has made, the Secretary of State said there was no room for scepticism; climate change is certain and it’s leaping out in front of our eyes like a scene from a 3D movie: “When 97 percent of scientists agree on anything, we need to listen, and we need to respond’’, he said.

Kerry said that by the end of this century, half of Jakarta be under water, with huge consequences for millions of people. As the climate warms we will also see an increase in water shortages, something that Obama is actually dealing with in the state of California, where they have experienced an unprecedented drought. Changes that used to occur between a 100 or 500 years, are now being repeated every ten years. After the humanitarian costs of extreme weather events, like typhoon Haiyan who recently struck the Philippines, the economic costs are enormous – it would be a disaster if events like those were to strike us on a regular basis, he said.

Kerry then turned to the US, highlighting what the Obama Administration has done to address climate change. In the last five years, since Obama took office he has done more to address climate change than any other US President before him and because of that we’re on target to to meet our international CO2 reduction commitments, Kerry said. He also said that the US are investing in Indonesian forest conservation efforts, while erasing some Indonesian debt in return for that investment.

The long term solution lies in the switch to cleaner a energy system the Secretary of State continued, he acknowledged that it would not be easy as oil, coal and gas can seem cheap and abundant, but he highlighted that the global green tech economy are growing at accelerating speed and all countries should play a role in it.

Finally he urged people to go out and speak about climate change, making it the core key message out there and make sure it’s discussed with high priority in the political landscape.

Sub edited by Charlotte Paton

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