National Security

Kerry: Climate change among ‘most complex security issues we’ve ever faced’

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Special envoy John Kerry called climate change “among the most complex security issues we’ve ever faced” at the virtual Munich Security Conference on Friday.

Kerry pointed to Texas’s struggle to keep the power on this week amid unusually cold temperatures, an unprecedented number of tropical storms last year that quickly exhausted naming conventions and a melting Arctic creating competition over new shipping passageways as proof people “just have to look out the window” to see the effects of climate change. 

“What these extreme weather events translate to on the ground should concern every single one of us,” the former secretary of State said, calling climate change a threat multiplier.  

Kerry’s speech to the conference comes as the U.S. officially rejoined the Paris climate accord, an automatic result following the request President Biden made on his first day in office.

Kerry’s first-of-its-kind position in the Biden administration affords him a seat on the National Security Council, putting him in a position to engage not only on international climate negotiations but also to ensure climate change is incorporated into U.S. security policy. 

He noted how changing weather patterns can cause desperation for farmers while natural disasters can push people from places they’ve lived a lifetime, driving humanitarian crisis.

“When we talk about the impacts of climate change, we’re talking about security, energy security, economic security, food security, even physical security. And the question now is, pregnantly, what will the world do about it?” Kerry said, noting the need to limit the planet’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Tags Climate change Joe Biden John Kerry Munich Security Conference

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