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John Kerry: Climate change ‘world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction’

John Kerry

John Kerry has warned about the threat of climate change in a speech in Indonesia. Creative Commons: Center for American Progress Action Fund, 2009

US Secretary of State, John Kerry has dismissed the views of climate sceptics, equating them to people who believe the earth is flat, as he warns climate change is the “world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction”.

In a speech in Indonesia, Kerry warned that if left unchecked climate change could responsible for scores of deaths, as extreme weather – like that currently hitting the US, UK, and scores of other countries – and other climate impacts hit across the world.

In a sense climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction…

I went to Tacloban in the Philippines, not long after Typhoon Haiyan. I have to tell you: I’ve seen a lot of places in war and out of war and places that have been destroyed, but in all my life, I don’t think I’ve ever seen devastation like [in the Philippines]. We saw cars and homes and lives turned upside-down, trees scattered like toothpicks all across a mountainside. And most devastating of all, so quickly, that storm stole the lives of more than 5,000 people – women, and children who never saw it coming.

The fact is that climate change, if left unchecked, will wipe out many more communities from the face of the earth.

Speaking to students, civic leaders and government officials he said that such climate impacts were “unacceptable”, particularly as governments know what needs to be done to deal with the challenge.

He also laid into climate change sceptics and those who “hijack the climate conversation”, and who use shoddy science and scientists to delay action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Singling big oil and big coal companies as big offenders of mudding the climate debate, Kerry compared those who deny climate change to people who still insist the Earth is flat.

The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand. We don’t have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society.

Kerry’s remarks come a day after the US and China agreed to intensify their joint efforts to address climate change.

In the agreement – announced during a visit to the country by Kerry – the two governments agree to work together on forging a common platform ahead of the international climate negotiations in Paris at the end of next year.

The world’s two biggest emitters, China and the US will play a leading role in ensuring the success – or failure – a new global treaty on climate change expected to be agreed that the conference.

The two countries finding common could help bridge the current divide between developed and developing countries on climate change.

Last year, the US and China set up a Climate Change Working Group to improve co-operation in low-carbon cars, smart grids, carbon capture and storage and energy efficiency in buildings and industry.

The latest joint statement agrees further co-operation between the two countries.

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