John Kerry on Climate Bill: "Suppose Al Gore Is Wrong"


Photo: Ralph Alswang

"Suppose they're all wrong." Sen. John Kerry, a co-sponsor of the climate bill that will hit the Senate this week, was talking about Al Gore, Jim Hanson, and other climate change worriers at a discussion last Monday, "and we get going at [addressing carbon emissions]?" His response was almost Friedman-esque (see yesterday's column) -- but thankfully without the PR sloganeering:

What's the worst that will happen? We'll be in the game in the global economy, we'll create jobs in America, we won't send 400 billion dollars to another country. The worst that could happen is that kids won't be going to hospitals in the summer. A healthier nation. We'll be leading world with respect to technologies that reduce disease and reduce poverty. The worst that could happen is that the security of the US is better...

Within the next two weeks we'll put it on the table, and put that out there. We'll have one of the most important debates this country has ever had. We'll get this country moving in the right direction.

The Chinese president's announcement last week that the country will cap its emissions intensity may not be enough to placate U.S. lawmakers who are considering a cap in the U.S. But Senator John Kerry sees China's commitment to develop its renewable energy industry as reason enough for the U.S. to go farther.

"China is determined to lead in this effort," said Kerry about China's clean tech sector a discussion yesterday in New York.

Referencing another recent Tom Friedman column about the U.S.'s lag in energy technology ("Have a Nice Day") Kerry described China's lead:

They're the number one electric car producer in the world. They have the lead in solar thermal, they're the second in solar PV. Which is fine as long as we're in the game. And other people are in the game. But we're not.

To be fair, the United States has witnessed a domestic launch of a number of promising renewable energy projects. And the country still remains a hotbed for innovation. But Kerry's point is well-taken, and recently echoed by energy secretary Steven Chu: we're falling behind.

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