John Kerry and US/global environmental politics

Stacey Sowards's picture

[This post is part of a series offered by IECA members attending COP22 in Marrakech.]

Today, Giles Dodson and I (along with 500 or so others) listened to US Secretary of State John Kerry talk about climate change at the UNFCCC.  Interestingly, we didn't know he was going to be speaking until this morning, but as soon as I saw that he would be talking, I knew I wanted to attend.  I never got to see him speak when he was running for president, so it was exciting to see him talk in person.

While many have well founded fears that a Trump presidency will pull out of the Paris agreements on climate change, John Kerry was inspiringly optimistic.  At one point, he said that he did not believe that actions already put in place would be able to be reversed.  He talked about the importance of the private sector and the many actions already being implemented to address climate change mitigation and adaptation.  He noted that while government leadership is important, actions taken around the world by businesses, communities, and many other actors are essential to dealing with climate change, particularly at the local level.

Kerry's speech was a powerful reminder that there are so many parties in the world who can and will take action on climate change.  I found his optimism and hopefulness a brief respite in the many negative and fearful assessments of what a Trump presidency might do in terms of environmental issues that affect people not just in the United States, but all around the world.  While those fears are well founded, it was nice to hear a positive message and to be reminded of all the good climate change activists are doing.  There are many people who care passionately and will continue to move forward in positive ways.  I know many of these people, from IECA, from local and international NGOs, from my students, from my university, from other universities.  It's important to remember that there is a lot of good in the world; the courage to act and to hope is an important part of what we do.