McCain Doesn’t Think Kerry Should Be Focusing on Climate Change

“Why should he talk about climate change when we have got 130,000 people in Syria killed?” asked Sen. John McCain.

US Senator John Kerry, US President Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of State, greets Sen. John McCain,R-AZ, prior to giving testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations committee during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on January 24, 2013.
National Journal
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
Feb. 19, 2014, 6:26 a.m.

Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry’s stark com­ments about cli­mate change over the week­end — he called it “per­haps the world’s most fear­some weapon of mass de­struc­tion” — aren’t sit­ting well with two high-pro­file Re­pub­lic­ans and the coal in­dustry.

“Why should he talk about cli­mate change when we have got 130,000 people in Syr­ia killed?” Sen. John Mc­Cain, an Ari­zona Re­pub­lic­an, asked on Phoenix ra­dio sta­tion KFYI. Mc­Cain slammed the state of ne­go­ti­ations over Syr­ia, Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram, and the Is­raeli-Palestini­an con­flict.

“John Kerry and the pres­id­ent, they could be hit­ting the tri­fecta here. Gross fail­ure on all three. So he has to go over to Asia and talk about cli­mate change and say it’s the most im­port­ant is­sue? Hello? On what plan­et does he reside?” Mc­Cain said Tues­day on The Mike Broom­head Show.

Kerry’s speech in In­done­sia fol­lowed a vis­it to China that pro­duced a bi­lat­er­al state­ment on plans to deep­en the two na­tions’ joint work on cli­mate.

Mc­Cain coau­thored cap-and-trade bills in 2003, 2005, and 2007, but later moved away from fo­cus­ing on cli­mate and voted in fa­vor of thwart­ing EPA’s green­house-gas reg­u­la­tions.

Mc­Cain’s com­ments fol­low a series of tweets by former GOP House Speak­er Newt Gin­grich, who on Monday called on Kerry to resign over his cli­mate speech in Jakarta, In­done­sia.

“A de­lu­sion­al sec­ret­ary of State is dan­ger­ous to our safety,” Gin­grich said on Twit­ter and asked, does Kerry “really be­lieve glob­al warm­ing more dan­ger­ous than North Korean and Ir­a­ni­an nukes? More than Rus­si­an and Chinese nukes? Really?”

Here’s Kerry’s Feb. 16 com­par­is­on of cli­mate change to oth­er threats in the Jakarta speech:

“When I think about the ar­ray of glob­al cli­mate — of glob­al threats — think about this: ter­ror­ism, epi­dem­ics, poverty, the pro­lif­er­a­tion of weapons of mass de­struc­tion — all chal­lenges that know no bor­ders — the real­ity is that cli­mate change ranks right up there with every single one of them.”

Fol­low­ing Mc­Cain and Gin­grich, who back in 2008 was tout­ing his agree­ment with Nancy Pelosi on the need for cli­mate ac­tion, a coal-in­dustry lob­by­ing group took its own shot at Kerry on Wed­nes­day.

“The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fan­at­ic­al rhet­or­ic on cli­mate comes as no sur­prise; but Sec­ret­ary Kerry’s at­tempt to equate cli­mate change and weapons of mass de­struc­tion was down­right pre­pos­ter­ous,” said Laura Shee­han, a spokes­wo­man for the Amer­ic­an Co­ali­tion for Clean Coal Elec­tri­city.

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