Kerry calls for climate change action in Indonesia speech

Sunday 16 February 2014 14.43
US Secretary of State John Kerry said big companies should not be allowed to 'hijack' the debate
US Secretary of State John Kerry said big companies should not be allowed to 'hijack' the debate

US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Indonesians that climate change could threaten their "entire way of life" as he called for all nations to do more to stop global warming.

Speaking to students in Jakarta, Mr Kerry derided sceptics of the view that human activity causes global warming as "shoddy scientists" and "extreme ideologues".

He said big companies and special interests should not be allowed to "hijack" the climate debate.

Aides said Mr Kerry had chosen Indonesia for the first of what is to be a series of speeches on the topic this year partly because as an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands it is particularly at risk from rising sea levels.

"Because of climate change, it's no secret that today Indonesia is ... one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth," Mr Kerry said.

"It's not an exaggeration to say that the entire way of life that you live and love is at risk.

"We just don't have time to let a few loud interest groups hijack the climate conversation.

"I'm talking about big companies that like it the way it is, that don't want to change, and spend a lot of money to keep you and me and everybody from doing what we know we need to do.

"We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists ... and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific fact.

"The science is unequivocal and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand."

Mr Kerry's public push takes place against the backdrop of a negotiation among nearly 200 nations about a possible new global treaty on climate change that is scheduled to be agreed next year and to address greenhouse gas emissions from 2020.

He announced yesterday in Beijing that China and the US had agreed to share information on their efforts to combat climate change.

Together the US and China account for about 40% of total emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

The US Secretary of State, who has long been a passionate advocate of the need to protect the environment, arrived in Indonesia yesterday for bilateral meetings.

He toured a mosque earlier to pay tribute to the country with the world's largest Muslim population.