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Secretary of State Kerry urges developing nations to face climate change perils

February 17, 2014 at 6:07 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The Earth is absorbing more heat than expected. That’s according to a study published today in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It found the Arctic is losing ice, creating more open water and less bright white surfaces to reflect sunlight back into space.

This latest scientific evidence comes a day after Secretary of State John Kerry on a visit to Indonesia issued a call to arms to combat climate change.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: The science of climate change is leaping out at us like a scene from a 3-D movie.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday urged Indonesians and citizens of other developing nations to face the perils of climate change.

Speaking in Jakarta, Kerry warned, that city could someday sink under rising sea levels. He argued the problem has become the world’s most fearsome weapon.

JOHN KERRY: 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.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Because of its massive removal of forests, Indonesia is now the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China and the U.S.

Kerry met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Beijing, on Saturday, and they agreed on the need to work together on the issue. But getting beyond pledges has been a problem. Last November, at a U.N. conference in Warsaw, much of the conversation pitted developed nations against developing nations in Asia and elsewhere.

Christiana Figueres was executive secretary of the convention.

CHRISTIANA FIGUERES, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: Industrialized countries with a larger historical responsibility must take the lead. But that doesn’t mean that everybody else is off the hook.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now Kerry is urging the world’s largest economies to reach agreement on cutting carbon emissions. And in his Jakarta speech, he blasted those who question climate change.

JOHN KERRY: We shouldn’t allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific fact, nor should we allow any room for those who think that the costs associated with doing the right thing outweigh the benefits.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The secretary will have to do his own weighing of climate costs and benefits as he considers whether to endorse extending the hotly debated Keystone pipeline across the U.S.