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John Kerry called flying a private jet 'the only choice for somebody like me' after jet-setting to Iceland to accept a climate award in 2019

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Foot in mouth

BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden's new climate czar, John Kerry, is under fire for an out-of-touch comment he made in 2019 after an Icelandic reporter criticized him for flying a private jet to the country to accept an environmental award.

What happened?

The former secretary of state was in the country to accept the Arctic Circle Prize for "having been a consistent voice pressuring the American authorities to commit to tackle environmental matters," Icelandic news outlet RUV reported. But during the assembly, Kerry was also confronted over his decision to fly charter to attend the gathering.

While speaking with Kerry, Icelandic reporter Jóhann Bjarni Kolbeinsson pressed the climate leader over his choice of transportation, asking: "I understand that you came here with a private jet. Is that an environmental way to travel?"

At the time, Kerry defended the hypocritical action, essentially arguing it's only option for jet-setting big shots like himself who are trying to save the world.

"If you offset your carbon — it's the only choice for somebody like me who is traveling the world to win this battle," Kerry said, according to the interview unearthed by Fox News. The outlet noted that the incident had not previously been reported by American media.

"I negotiated the Paris Accords for the United States," he added, in reference to the international carbon emissions reduction agreement the U.S. entered during the Obama administration.

"I've been involved in this fight for years," he continued. "I negotiated with [Chinese] President Xi to bring President Xi to the table so we could get Paris. And, I believe, the time it takes me to get somewhere ... I can't sail across the ocean. I have to fly to meet with people and get things done."

"But, what I'm doing, almost full time, is working to win the battle on climate change, and in the end, if I offset and contribute my life to do this, I'm not going to be put on the defensive," he said.

Why does it matter?

The unearthed video comes at a bad time for the new White House climate envoy, who last week was scrutinized for the fact that his family still owns a gas-guzzling private jet even as he officially preaches climate consciousness for the Biden administration.

It is estimated that private jets emit up to 40 times as much carbon per passenger as do commercial flights.

Kerry also ran into controversy during a news conference on Jan. 27 while attempting to address concerns over the Biden administration's job-killing environmental agenda. He told reporters that oil and gas workers in fear of losing their jobs due to new climate change initiatives will simply have to make "better choices" for their next careers.

"What President Biden wants to do is make sure those folks have better choices, that they have alternatives," Kerry said. "They could be the people who go to work to make the solar panels."

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