U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said this week that climate change is the real existential crisis we should be focusing on. In fact, it’s so critical, it’s even more dire than the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, whose cities continue to be bombarded by Russia’s military.
Kerry made the remarks at CERAweek, an annual “energy conference” with global and industry leaders who gather to discuss climate change and energy.
While Kerry admitted that the two million people fleeing the Russia-Ukraine war is a “problem”, it’s nothing compared to the destruction wrought by climate change and the refugees that it will bring with it.
"We’re already seeing climate refugees around the world," Kerry said. "If you think migration has been a problem in Europe in the Syrian War or even from what we see now, wait until you see 100 million people for whom the entire food production capacity has collapsed."
Last month, Kerry expressed hopes that the war wouldn’t divert people’s attention from climate change in an interview with BBC Arabic.
He began by saying that in terms of the war between Russia and Ukraine, he hopes diplomacy will win, but the real problem is emissions.
“But it could have a profound negative impact on the climate, obviously,” he said. “You have a war and obviously you’re going to have massive emissions consequences to the war."
Kerry also said he fears that people will not be as focused on climate change if they're focused on the war.
“But equally importantly, you’re going to lose people’s focus, you’re going to lose certainly big country attention because they will be diverted and I think it could have a damaging impact,” Kerry continued.
He then expressed hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin won’t lose sight of the climate goal.
“So, you know, I think hopefully President Putin would realize that in the northern part of his country, they used to live on 66 percent of the nation that was over frozen land,” he said.
“Now it’s thawing, and his infrastructure is at risk and the people of Russia are at risk,” Kerry added. “And so I hope President Putin will help us to stay on track with respect to what we need to do for the climate.”
On Tuesday, two New York State senators appeared to compare climate change to 9/11.
State Senators Robert Jackson (D-Manhattan) and Rachel May (D-Syracuse) posed at an Albany rally with a large banner that showed a plane about to fly into the Twin Towers. The plane was labeled “climate change” and the caption below read: “Wake up America before it’s too late!”
After facing backlash for suggesting that climate change is similar to one of the largest terror attacks in history, Jackson tried to claim that he “didn’t note the details of the artwork”, despite a video showing Jackson looking at the sign and reading it out loud into a megaphone.