Newspaper article The Canadian Press

In First Major Speech as Secretary of State, Kerry Calls Climate Change Action

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

In First Major Speech as Secretary of State, Kerry Calls Climate Change Action

Article excerpt

Kerry calls for action on climate change


WASHINGTON - In yet another potentially ominous sign for TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, John Kerry used his first major address as secretary of state on Wednesday to make an urgent call for comprehensive action on climate change.

"We as a nation must have the foresight and courage to make the investments necessary to safeguard the most sacred trust we keep for our children and grandchildren: an environment not ravaged by rising seas, deadly superstorms, devastating droughts, and the other hallmarks of a dramatically changing climate," Kerry said in a wide-ranging speech at the University of Virginia.

"If we waste this opportunity, it may be the only thing our generation -- generations -- are remembered for. We need to find the courage to leave a far different legacy."

While Kerry made no mention of Keystone XL specifically, his State Department will soon decide the $7 billion pipeline's ultimate fate because it crosses an international border.

Keystone XL, which would carry bitumen from Alberta's carbon-intensive oilsands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, is considered a symbol of "dirty oil" by American environmentalists. They're stepping up their efforts to urge U.S. President Barack Obama to make good on his recent rhetoric on climate change by rejecting the pipeline.

There have been signals that the pleas of environmentalists are not falling upon deaf ears at the White House.

David Jacobson, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, told The Canadian Press last week that Obama's vow to take aggressive action on climate change during his recent State of the Union address was meant in part as a challenge to Canada.

John Baird, Canada's foreign affairs minister, responded a few days later that the U.S. could stand to follow Canada's lead on several climate change fronts, in particular on coal.

"We're the only country in the world that's committed to getting out of the dirty coal electricity generation business," Baird said. "These are real meaningful steps that will either meet or even exceed the work that's been done thus far in the United States."

Kerry's remarks on Wednesday came less than two weeks after his meeting at the State Department with Baird. …

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