John Kerry: ‘No Country Is Getting the Job Done’ on Climate Change

By Melanie Arter | December 2, 2019 | 2:40pm EST
 (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)

( – It’s not enough to convince President Donald Trump to act on climate change. “No country is getting the job done” on the issue, former Secretary of State John Kerry told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

“Well, it's not just the president, Chuck. There are great efforts out there. many environmental groups, young people, particularly, but no country is getting the job done. I mean, the simple reality is that we are way behind, way behind the eight ball,” Kerry said, appearing alongside former Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to discuss the issue.

The two are part of a group called World War Zero, which is made up of scientists and celebrities, that hope to spark conversations on global warming and create more urgency on the issue.

“Things are getting worse, not better, and so, what we have are unlikely allies coming together here. There's no group that has people as diverse as ours, in terms of nationality, age, gender, ideology, background, life experience, and all of these people have come together saying we've got to treat this like a war,” Kerry said.

“I mean, it has to require decision-making and organization and efforts that are just not taking place, and so, we have people across ideologies. I mean, you have, you have former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. You have former Governor of Ohio, John Kasich. You have Arnold. You have a lot of people on the other side of the aisle who've all come together without saying this is the only way to get there, but with the desire to make certain that in America and around the world, people are going to put this issue way up at the top of the list,” he said.

“We're going to do the things we need to do. We're going to organize. We're going to mobilize. We're going to talk to literally millions of Americans over the course of the next months, and this is going to become a primary issue,” the former secretary said.

Schwarzenegger touted the way California has been able to make strides in environmental protection at the same time that it protects the economy.

Well, we are very happy and very proud of what we have done here in California, and I think we are perfect proof that you can protect the environment and also protect the economy at the same time, because we have the strictest environmental laws here in California, and at the same time, we are number one, economically, way ahead of the United States.

Our average growth is around 3.6%, where the United States growth is around 2%. And you know, we create more jobs - millions of jobs - since we have passed those laws. So, you can see that we can do both. We are the fifth-largest economy in the world, right behind China, Germany, and Japan and the United States.

So, it just shows you the power that we have by going green and the kind of jobs we create, and I think that's what we want to do. We want the whole United States going that direction, the whole world to go in that direction.

And I'm very, very happy that I've joined up here with John, because John has been a longtime friend of mine. And I've always admired his passion about a clean environment and about, you know, bringing both parties together. I mean, he negotiated with Lindsey Graham for years, a great, great deal that was almost about to happen. And so, I think that we're working together on this, and I think that it is a great idea to bring Republicans and Democrats together, and of course, I am a fanatic about communication, which is a whole other issue.

Asked how he would convince West Virginia voters to act on climate change, Kerry said, “Well, I think you have to give people a choice, Chuck. They're not even being given a choice right now. I mean, you said, ‘Are we going to back one plan?’ The answer is yes. There is one plan, and that plan is to get to net zero emissions by 2045 or 2050.

“Now, how we get there? There are a lot of different ideas out there, but the important thing is that that's not happening now. I mean, it's embarrassing that in the Democratic presidential debates, you had a whole bunch of debates in which there wasn't one question on climate change,” he said.

Todd asked Schwarzenegger – a Republican – whether he would ignore Trump or try to convince the president to change his mind on the issue and whether he would have a one-on-one meeting.

“No. No. First of all, I totally agree, again, with John when he said, you know, it's not just one person. We have to convince the whole world, and I think the way to convince the whole world is by not just always talking about climate change, which doesn't mean that much to most of the people,” Schwarzenegger said.

The former governor cited polling by his own institute that showed very little support among conservatives on the issue of climate change but significant support on individual environmental issues like pollution.

“As a matter of fact, we have done the polls through The Schwarzenegger Institute, and you and I have talked about that. When we said, ‘Climate change,’ there was like -- of the conservatives, there were only 17% interested and thought that there was a serious threat, but as soon as we said pollution, the numbers went over 50%. So, we got to communicate,” Schwarzenegger said.

“The environmental community has to communicate better and talk about pollution, because pollution is a threat right now, and when you introduced this piece, you talked about, in 2050. People can't think about 2050. They think about now. How can I survive? How can I provide jobs? How can I go and feed my family? Those are the kind of issues, and that's why it's important that we talk about the health issue, and that's how we have passed all of our strict environmental laws here in California,” he said.



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