EPA head calls for US leadership in climate

The United States ought to lead the way among nations to fight climate change internationally, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said.

Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyEPA chief: ‘Help is on the way’ for farmers Trump moves to kill Obama water rule Obama EPA chief: Pruitt must uphold ‘law and science’ MORE said climate change causes global unrest and instability, and it is in the United States’ best interests to play a leadership role in stopping it.

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“Climate change fuels instability around the world, by amplifying risks to global health, security and to growth,” McCarthy said Wednesday in a speech hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations.

“We have to fight climate change by building it into all of our existing international efforts.”

McCarthy repeated President Obama’s sometimes controversial statement that climate change is a national security risk on par with threats like terrorism and war.

“The Pentagon calls climate change a ‘threat multiplier,’ ” she said. “President Obama’s national security strategy recognizes climate change as the gateway to more natural disasters, refugee flows and conflicts.”

McCarthy used her speech to position the EPA and last year’s sweeping proposal to slash carbon emissions from the power sector as a significant move for the country’s international relations and diplomacy, as well as the worldwide fight against greenhouse gas emissions.

She drew a parallel to the Montreal Protocol of 1989, in which the world’s leading countries agreed to cut down on emissions of chemicals that harm the ozone layer.

“It was us, the United States of America, that paved that path to recovery,” she said.

“Because it was an American university that uncovered the problem. And it was American industry that innovated solution. It was American leadership that forged a global market for better, safer products, and American companies that sold those solutions across the world.”

The power plant rule puts the United States in a leading position in climate change policies, McCarthy said.

Her remarks came as the world’s leaders are working under the United Nations to establish an international agreement in December in Paris that would cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Using Obama’s agreement with China to cut emissions as an example, McCarthy said the United States is taking a leadership role in getting major countries to commit to carbon cuts.

“My hope is that we’ll continue to work with all of the larger countries that really need to come to the table with solutions in Paris,” she said, naming India as one of the top targets the United States is trying to get on board.