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John Kerry Addresses Climate Change in First Policy Guidance as Secretary of State

'We Need To Elevate the Environment in Everything We Do.'

2:28 PM, Mar 7, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
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Even as the situation in Ukraine has some talking about the possibility of a new cold war with Russia, Secretary of State John Kerry issued his first Policy Guidance since assuming his position a little over a year ago. The subject: Climate change.  In a blog post entitled "We Need To Elevate the Environment in Everything We Do," Kerry expresses a desire to make climate change his signature issue much in the way his predecessor Hillary Clinton made women's issues a "top-tier diplomatic priority":

Leading the way toward progress on this issue [climate change] is the right role for the United States, and it’s the right role for the Department of State.  That’s why I’ve decided to make climate change the subject of my first Policy Guidance as Secretary of State.  I have been deeply impressed by the way Secretary Clinton  elevated global women’s issues as a top-tier diplomatic priority, and believe me, we’re committed to keeping them there.  When the opportunities for women grow, the possibilities for peace, prosperity, and security grow even more.  President Obama and I believe the same thing about climate change.  This isn’t just a challenge, it’s also an incredible opportunity.  And the Policy Guidance I’m issuing today is an important step in the right direction.

    Saying "there’s no time to lose", Kerry enumerated seven steps the State Department will take to carry out the "critical mission" of addressing climate change:

I.  Lead by example through strong action at home and abroad.
II.  Conclude a new international climate change agreement.
III.  Implement the Global Climate Change Initiative.
IV.  Enhance multilateral engagement.
V.  Expand bilateral engagement.
VI.  Mobilize financial resources.
VII.  Integrate climate change with other priorities.

Kerry closed with a call to action for members of the State Department, telling them tackling this issue is part of their "mission as diplomats":

Climate change has special significance for the work we do here at State, and so do clean water, clean air, sustainability, and energy.  We’re talking about the future of our earth and of humanity.  We need to elevate the environment in everything we do.  There’s nothing I’m more proud of then when we send one of our diplomats somewhere to really get out in the field and engage, to solve a problem, and to make something happen.  I want all of you to feel empowered to think and operate that way on climate change.  That’s our mission as diplomats and that’s our call to conscience as citizens of this fragile planet we inhabit.  So let’s get to work. 

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