|John Kerry said the costs of inaction are on climate change, citing Hurricane Sandy. Photo credit: Shawn Perez via Flickr.|
By Anders Lorenzen
At Bloomberg New Energy Finance‘s (BNEF) Future of Energy Summit, held in New York recently, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, talked up the huge financial benefits of harnessing our clean energy resources but also warned that unless we do so, the consequences would be devastating.
John Kerry speaking at the BNEF Future of Energy Summit. Video credit: Bloomberg.
Kerry went on to say that our need to act on climate change should be the catalyst reason for doing so, and said the science has never been clearer: “today we know, after decades of science, thousands of peer reviewed studies, to which I might add, there is a scant, if any, peer reviewed study to the contrary. But the peer review studies of which there are thousands, finds, is that unless we transition to low carbon alternatives, we’re going to self-inflict harm to infrastructure, food production, water supplies, ecosystems, and health.”
Kerry turned to the impacts of climate change and said that the planet is today changing before our eyes. He highlighted that each new decade turns out to be warmer than the previous one. He remembers standing on the Senate floor 13 years ago, warning about precisely that and since then warming trends have only gone upwards, with last year being the hottest year on record so far.
He went on to bemoan the lack of political action and leadership on this issue and said that you would have thought with those stats they would get it, stating: “this is really not complicated, it is basic physics”
But the Secretary of State said we should also look at clean energy as the potential for economic growth, stating: “clean energy is one of the greatest opportunities the world has ever seen”. He said that the case for unlocking the low carbon market is an exciting one which could open up for trillions of dollars worth of new investments. The clean energy industry is already a trillion dollars industry, Kerry stating: “we’re seeing a global surge in clean energy investments”. He said it is really crucial to get the private sector onboard, saying that government’s role should be to create the right conditions for the industry thrive: ‘’it is the private sector that will ultimately take us to the finishing line.”
He offered his praise towards President Obama and said that under his leadership, the US has transformed action on climate change and clean energy growth like no other US president has ever done.
Kerry said that the cost of inaction is immense, citing extreme weather events experienced in the US in recent years like Hurricane Sandy. On the health side, billions are being spent on environmentally induced health impacts such as asthma.
But there are some powerful voices trying to obstruct progress: “in Miami, the elected officials are already struggling to combat the impacts of climate change”. Despite this, Kerry said that the government of Florida is suing the Obama administration for his coal power plants regulations, but saying this is not unexpected: “this opposition is not new, I saw it many times in the Senate. We almost had a carbon trading mechanism and I saw how the coal industry started to spend money and scare my colleagues. Kerry linked this fact to vested interests: “even the strongest science is not enough to make people change course, especially now when they have money at stake.”
The Secretary of State concluded that anyone who opposes progress, could perhaps be successful in delaying the transition slightly, but they would not stop the clean energy transition, “I am sure of that”, he stated.
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