Visiting Sweden, Kerry offers ‘regret’ that US hasn’t done more on climate

Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday in Sweden that he wishes the United States had made more progress in battling climate change.

“I have to say that I regret that my own country — and President Obama knows this and is committed to changing it — needs to do more and we are committed to doing more,” Kerry said in Sweden at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

Obama has vowed new second-term executive actions on climate change, but has not laid out a detailed agenda.

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Kerry is in Stockholm for meetings and will attend the May 15 gathering of the multi-nation Arctic Council in Kiruna, Sweden. His visit follows last week’s White House release of the administration’s formal National Strategy for the Arctic Region.

The melting of Arctic ice is opening opportunities for energy development and shipping. But it’s also raising the prospect of ecological damage and new geopolitical competition as nations compete for access.

“And we come here to Kiruna with a great understanding of the challenge to the Arctic as the ice melts, as the ecosystem is challenged, the fisheries, and the possibilities of increased commercial traffic as a result of the lack of ice raises a whole set of other issues that we need to face up to,” Kerry said, according to a State Department transcript.

“So it’s not just an environmental issue and it’s not just an economic issue. It is a security issue, a fundamental security issue that affects life as we know it on the planet itself, and it demands urgent attention from all of us,” he said.

Kerry and ministers of seven other Arctic nations will sign the Arctic Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response Agreement, the State Department said last week.

It aims to foster rapid and collaborative responses to potential oil spills in the region, according to the department.