Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday said the U.S. and China must work together to address a range of global security concerns, and put climate change at the top of his list, above other issues such as nuclear proliferation and terrorism.
"As China pursues interests well beyond the Asia Pacific, there is both opportunity and necessity to coordinate our efforts to address global security concerns," he said in a speech in Washington before an international trip that would take him to Beijing.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday discussed key global security issues on which the U.S. and China must cooperate. He listed climate change first, and then nuclear proliferation. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
"Our shared efforts to respond to the global threat of climate change are a perfect example," he said. Kerry said the United Nations' recent report on climate change should be a "wake up call to everybody."
"The science could not be clearer," he said. "Our planet is warming and it is warming due to our actions."
Kerry said the U.S. and China last year launched a climate change working group that includes meetings at high levels, and said both countries must lead the way on this issue because they are the world's largest polluters.
"If the two countries that together are nearing 50 percent of all the emissions in the world, which happen to be also the two largest economies in the world, if they can come together and show seriousness of purpose, imagine what the impact could be on the rest of the world," he said. "We need to solve this problem together."
"Even if every single American biked to work, or carpooled to school, or used only solar panels to power their homes, if we reduced our emissions to zero, if we planted each of us in America a dozen trees, if we somehow eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions, guess what?" he said. "That still wouldn't be enough to counteract the carbon pollution coming from China and the rest of the world. And the same would be true for China if they reduced everything and we continued."
Some scientists have noted that the Earth hasn't warmed appreciably in about a decade, and said that shows it's not entirely clear why the Earth was warming before, and why it suddenly stopped. But Kerry said climate change is a comprehensive threat because it poses risk to the environment, economic growth, security and health.
The second global threat listed by Kerry in his speech was nuclear proliferation.