On Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a call for climate action that attracted considerable attention because of its forcefulness. Speaking in Jakarta, Indonesia, Kerry rebuked climate deniers, referring to them as “a tiny minority of shoddy scientists…and extreme ideologues.” He described the economic costs and catastrophic implications of inaction. Most strikingly, he suggested that climate change is “the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”
“It doesn’t keep us safe if the United States secures its nuclear arsenal, while other countries fail to prevent theirs from falling into the hands of terrorists,” Kerry said. Similarly, a serious response to climate change requires that all countries break their fossil fuel addiction. “At the end of the day, emissions coming from anywhere in the world threaten the future for people everywhere in the world,” Kerry said.
Kerry’s nuclear analogy is useful for understanding the Obama’s administration’s climate agenda—and its glaring omission. The plan is built on three pillars: curbing domestic carbon pollution (or, securing our own nuclear arsenal), preparing for the impacts of climate change (building fallout shelters) and leading efforts to address climate change internationally (encouraging disarmament.)
All of that nonproliferation work would be undercut if the US sold weapons-grade uranium to the countries it was asking not to build a bomb. In effect, that is what the United States is doing with fossil fuels. While the administration takes steps to cut down emissions at home—via investment in renewables, tighter efficiency standards for power plants and vehicles—Obama continues to promote an “all of the above” energy strategy that ensures oil and coal companies profit from selling American-made dirty energy abroad. It’s one of the most critical inconsistencies among the president’s climate policies.
Source: Duncan Clark, TheGuardian.com
Consider coal. The Environmental Protection Agency’s highly anticipated power plant rules are expected to dramatically hasten the shift from coal to natural gas and renewables in the domestic utility sector; internationally, Obama has said he wants to halt public financing for new coal-powered plants. But under Obama’s leadership the Bureau of Land Management has continued to lease federal land in Wyoming and Montana to Big Coal at below-market prices, propping up the industry while cheating taxpayers of an estimated $30 billion over the past thirty years. Now coal companies are lobbying for a rail-to-port pathway through the Pacific Northwest that would carry roughly as much carbon as the Keystone XL pipeline to foreign markets, and the Army Corps of Engineers has declined to conduct a full environmental impact study of the proposal.