“Seismic changes” in temperatures and sea levels could create waves of refugees forced to abandon traditional homes and fight for food and water, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said as he sought commitment from the international community to address the challenge posed by climate change.
“Climate is not a distant threat for our children and their children to worry about….It is happening now,” Kerry said in his address ‘At the Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement, and Resilience (GLACIER) Conference’ at Anchorage in Alaska.
Kerry said that climate change u2014 reflected by what he called “seismic changes” in temperatures and sea levels u2014 could soon create waves of new refugees forced to abandon traditional homes or to fight for food and water.
“And we as leaders of countries will begin to witness what we call climate refugees moving u2013 you think migration is a challenge to Europe today because of extremism, wait until you see what happens when thereu2019s an absence of water, an absence of food, or one tribe fighting against another for mere survival,” said the Secretary of State.
The story of Arctic communities is inherently one of resilience, adaptation, and survival from one generation to the next, he said.
“Unless the global community comes together to address this challenge, the dramatic climate impacts that weu2019re seeing in this part of the world will be a harbinger for every part of the world,” Kerry said.
The energy market, he said, now is worth USD 6 trillion with 4 to 5 billion users. It will grow to nine billion users as the population of the planet increases in the next 30, 40 years. It is the biggest market ever, and it’s waiting to be grabbed, he added.
“We need to move to reducing carbon pollution, including emissions of short-lived climate drivers like soot and methane, and begin to factor carbon dioxide and its cost into the actual accounting of business and of our economies,” he said.
“We need to explore the need for greater collaboration to develop affordable and reliable renewable energy options in the Arctic communities,” he added.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has said the US recognises its role in creating the problems of climate change and is ready to play its role in this battle for existence.
“I’ve come here today, as the leader of the worldu2019s largest economy and its second largest emitter, to say that the US recognises our role in creating this problem, and we embrace our responsibility to help solve it. And I believe we can solve it,” Obama in his address to the conference.
“That’s the good news. Even if we cannot reverse the damage that we’ve already caused, we have the means — the scientific imagination and technological innovation — to avoid irreparable harm,” he asserted as he gave clarion call to other countries of the world to join hands together to meet the challenges posed by climate change.
Climate change, he argued, is no longer some far-off problem.
“And climate change is a trend that affects all trends — economic trends, security trends. Everything will be impacted.u00a0 And it becomes more dramatic with each passing year,” he said.
Referring to the agreement reached between China and the US last year, Obama said America will double the pace at which we cut emissions, and China committed, for the first time, to limiting its emissions.
“Because the worldu2019s two largest economies and two largest emitters came together, we’re now seeing other nations stepping up aggressively as well. And I’m determined to make sure American leadership continues to drive international action — because we can’t do this alone. Even America and China together cannot do this alone. Even all the countries represented around here cannot do this alone. We have to do it together,” he said.