Following on the President’s very welcome prioritization of climate in his inaugural address, our next Secretary of State also put the issue front and center in his confirmation hearings:
Where Kerry was most passionate was on the issue of climate change, calling it a “life-threatening issue.”
“The solution to climate change is energy policy,” he said. “You want to do business and do it well in America, we got to get into the energy race.” He cited Massachusetts, where alternative energy is “growing faster than any other sector. . . . This is a job creator.”
“I will be a passionate advocate for this,” he added, “not based on ideology but facts.”
One has to notice even the incremental changes in tone in Washington. As one’s justifications change for maintaining a particular position, the position subtly changes almost as a result. One senses rather less discussion on the right challenging the basic reality of climate change; but one still hears that addressing climate domestically might give an advantage to China and India, if they do not also restrict emissions.
Well, that may be changing on China’s end. Maybe. Moving these countries and others along the road — and being willing to make commitments on the US’s behalf — will be Kerry’s job. If he can get cooperation from China and India, will the US Congress follow?
Only if there is constant pressure, rhetorical and political — from the top, in the White House — and from the electorates, as people understand and communicate their will for self-protection and self-preservation in the face of a threat.