Kerry: On Eve of RIO+20, an Honest Assessment of Climate Change Challenge

Press Release

By:  John Kerry
Date: June 19, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

As world leaders meet this week for the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, delivered a major floor speech today urging U.S. action to combat the threat of global climate change.

The conference, which takes place June 20 -- 22 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio, which Senator Kerry attended along with almost every other conference held.

"Twenty years ago this month, a Republican President of the United States helped bring together all the world's largest economies in Rio to confront the issue of global climate change. The President was unequivocal about the mission. George Herbert Walker Bush said simply, "The United States fully intends to be the world's preeminent leader in protecting the global environment,'" said Sen. Kerry. "How dramatic and sad it is that twenty years later, shockingly, we find ourselves in a strange and dangerous place on this issue--a place this former President wouldn't even recognize. When it comes to the challenge of climate change, the falsehood of today's naysayers is only matched by the complacency of our political system...We should be compelled to fight today's insidious conspiracy of silence on climate change--a silence that empowers misinformation and mythology to grow where science and truth should prevail. It is a conspiracy that has not just stalled, but demonized any constructive effort to put America in a position to lead the world on this issue, as President Bush promised we would and as Americans have a right to expect we will."

Senator Kerry is the leading advocate in the United States Senate for action to address international climate change. In 2010, he formed a tri-partisan climate effort with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to produce the "American Power Act," comprehensive climate change legislation in the Senate. In 2009, the Senator traveled to China to urge leaders to join the upcoming "cap and trade" negotiations ahead of the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, where he helped forge a political agreement on global greenhouse gas reduction. He has also represented U.S. at international climate negotiations for two decades: Rio,'92, Kyoto, '97, Buenos Aires, '98, The Hague, '00, Bali, '07, Poznan, '08, and Copenhagen, '09.