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Kerry: Climate change as dangerous as WMDs

US Secretary of State says scientific evidence of global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions is beyond doubt.

Last updated: 17 Feb 2014 04:44
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Kerry arrived in Indonesia shortly after the US and China announced steps to curb greenhouse gases [AP]

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, has stressed the importance of tackling climate change in a speech in Indonesia, saying that it may be the world's "most fearsome" weapon of mass destruction.

Kerry, who delivered the speech on Sunday in the capital, Jakarta, spoke critically about climate change sceptics adding that everyone and every country must take responsibility and act immediately.

"We simply don't have time to let a few loud interest groups hijack the climate conversation," he said, referring to what he called "big companies" that "don't want to change and spend a lot of money" to act to reduce the risks.

He later singled out big oil and coal concerns as the primary offenders.

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

He added that 97 percent of scientists who weighed in on the issue agree that the phenomenon is real, and argued that the cost of inaction to environments and economies will far outweigh the expense of reducing greenhouse gasses.

The solution, Kerry said, was a new global energy policy that shifts reliance from fossil fuels to cleaner technologies.

He said that the US president, Barack Obama, was championing such a shift and encouraged others to appeal to their leaders to join.

He spoke in at the American Centre in Jakarta a day after winning an agreement with China to co-operate more closely in reducing the effects of climate change.

'Overwhelming scientific consensus'

Kerry arrived in Indonesia shortly after the US and China issued a joint statement on Saturday saying they had agreed on steps to carry out commitments to curb greenhouse gases that trap solar heat in the atmosphere.

The steps include reducing vehicle emissions, improving the energy efficiency of buildings and other measures, AP reported.

China and the US are the biggest sources carbon dioxide emissions and other gases that cause the atmosphere to trap solar heat and alter the climate.

Scientists warn such changes are already leading to drought, wildfires, rising sea levels, melting polar ice, animal extinctions and other extreme conditions.

The two governments will "contribute significantly to successful 2015 global efforts to meet this challenge," the statement said.

It cited the "overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change and its worsening impacts, and the related issue of air pollution from burning fossil fuels," and said the two countries recognise the urgent need for action.

Beijing and Washington launched the US-China Climate Change Working Group last year.

They promised progress in five areas - reducing vehicle emissions, advanced electric power grids, capturing and storing carbon emissions, gathering greenhouse gas data and building efficiency.

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