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Ear to the Ground

John Kerry Slams Climate-Change Deniers for ‘Burying Their Heads in the Sand’

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Posted on Feb 16, 2014

  Secretary of State John Kerry, pictured in Washington, D.C., in this U.S. Congress photo, had some ‘splainin’ to do on his trip to Indonesia on Sunday.


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry took a shot across the bow at climate-change skeptics and deniers during a diplomatic visit to Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sunday.

Calling Indonesia “one of the most vulnerable countries on earth” to the effects of global warming, Kerry sounded a strong warning note during a speech delivered to students in the island nation’s capital city, pointing particularly at “extreme ideologues,” “shoddy scientists” and big corporations as blockades to progress attempting to “hijack the climate conversation.” Reuters/AFP reported more details of Kerry’s Indonesian stopover later that day (via The Nation):

Aides said the US secretary of state had chosen Indonesia for the first of what is to be a series of speeches on the topic this year partly because as an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands it is particularly at risk from rising sea levels.

“Because of climate change, it’s no secret that today Indonesia is…one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth,” Kerry said in speech at a high-tech US-funded cultural center at a Jakarta mall. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that the entire way of life that you live and love is at risk,” he added.

Kerry’s public push takes place against the backdrop of a negotiation among nearly 200 nations about a possible new global treaty on climate change that is scheduled to be agreed next year and to address greenhouse gas emissions from 2020.

In Beijing on Friday, Kerry announced that China and the United States, the world’s largest emitters of such gases, had agreed to intensify information-sharing and policy discussions on their plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions after 2020.

Kerry’s relations with his hosts in Jakarta might have been complicated by Laura Poitras’ and the New York Times’ report, published Saturday, about the NSA’s involvement in transactions between an unnamed American law firm and the Indonesian government, the firm’s client in a trade conflict with the U.S. government. As of press time, Kerry had not yet commented on the matter, though he was clearly in for some diplomatic gymnastics given the timing and content of the report.

—Posted by Kasia Anderson

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