Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that President Barack Obama has sidestepped congressional oversight by instituting climate change regulations, and believes Republican opposition made it necessary.
A State Department transcript shows that Kerry made the remarks while attending a screening of Leonardo DiCaprio’s new climate change film “Before the Flood” at United Nations headquarters in New York on Oct. 20.
“Now, something a lot of people don’t know: President Obama put in place a national climate action program – a plan for America – and I think history is going to be very respectful of the way in which he has been able to circumvent a Congress, who didn’t want to do anything, and so he’s really found what are the constitutional powers that he can exercise administratively, and he’s done administratively what he hasn’t been able to get out of Congress,” Kerry said.
At a press conference for the screening, Kerry mentioned that the three presidential debates this year did not include a single question about climate change.
“Didn’t that piss you off while you were watching?” DiCaprio asked Kerry.
“Yeah. Totally. Totally. It pisses me off tonight, too,” Kerry responded to laughter from the audience.
Kerry lavished praise on DiCaprio’s film while suggesting that Republican politicians opposed to climate change action see it.
“Maybe November 8th will produce a capacity for the entire Republican caucus to go to the Goddard Space Center, NASA, see that map and to see this film,” he said. “It should be required for every single one of them.”
Addressing future action on climate change, Kerry stated that energy policy is the crucial element.
“We’re not sitting here chasing some pie-in-the-sky set of possible solutions somewhere down the road,” he said. “The solutions are here now. Every single one of them is staring us in the face. We know what we have to do. The solution to climate change is energy policy.”
While agreeing with virtually every point of DiCaprio’s film, Kerry took exception to the idea that further policies directed at climate change would result in a reduction in people’s quality of life.
“We’ll be able to live as well if not better,” he said. “And we don’t have to give up certain kinds of things. We just make different choices about how we provide those things.”