Former Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that the fight against climate change should be treated like a war as he touted a newly formed initiative that he claims is more diverse than other groups with the same mission.
“Things are getting worse, not better. And so we have our 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 on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The interview came a day after he announced his new initiative, “World War Zero.” The more than 60 founding members include celebrities and politicians of both parties including former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Kasich, and entertainers Leonardo DiCaprio, Sting and Ashton Kutcher.
“I’m going to be a bit of a cynic here. But you go out of your way to say you’re not backing a single climate plan with World War Zero, this is about creating more attention to the issue,” NBC host Chuck Todd said. “Is attention to the issue really the issue right now? This feels like a ten-year-ago problem. The issue right now is convincing a certain president of the United States to act.”
“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,” Kerry responded.
“I mean, it has to require decision making and organization and efforts that are just not taking place,” he said.
Kerry said the group is going to mobilize, organize, and “talk to literally millions of Americans over the course of the next months” with the goal of making climate change a “primary issue.”
Schwarzenegger, who appeared alongside Kerry in the interview, said environmental activists have to “communicate better and talk about pollution.”
“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,” he said.
“The environmental community has to communicate better and talk about pollution, because pollution is a threat right now,” Schwarzenegger added. “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.”
Diplomats will gather in Madrid on Monday for global climate negotiations meant to strengthen the 2015 Paris Agreement. President Trump has begun formally withdrawing from the pact, making the U.S. the only country in the world not a part of the accords.
A United Nations report released last week found greenhouse gas emissions would need to fall by nearly 8 percent each year in order to keep the earth from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius.
Recent polling has suggested that Americans want lawmakers to take action to combat climate change. A CBS News poll from September found 6 in 10 respondents said they believe immediate action is necessary on climate change.
Moreover, climate change appears to be a top priority for Democrats. A CNN poll from April found that 82 percent of the party’s voters listed climate change the top issue they’d like to see a presidential candidate address.