Earth needs leaders who believe in climate science – Kerry

PARIS, France – The world's leaders should believe in the science of climate change, US Secretary of State John Kerry said at the sidelines of the UN climate conference (COP21) Monday, December 7.

"We need, as responsible leaders, to take account of science; not some cockamamie ideological hypothetical, but science. And we need to make clear that those members of the Flat Earth Society are on the wrong side of history," he said.

Kerry hopes that the negotiators in the Paris climate conference will ratify an ambitious and legally-binding agreement that will arrest the 2ºC rise in global temperatures predicted by the scientists.

"My hope is the momentum that we are building and good negotiating over the next days will overcome those hurdles, and that towards the end of the week we’ll be able to come to an agreement. I believe we can," he said.

Speaking at a session of the Earth to Paris dialogue organized by the UN Foundation, Kerry said that after he became Secretary of State, his first objective was to walk the talk on climate change, and started by approaching China to talk about what they can do.

"I didn’t imagine when I went to China we were going to have 184 nations embrace this goal and this urgency and this target and come to Paris seriously. This is a whole new paradigm in Paris," he said.

"My hope is the momentum that we are building and good negotiating over the next days will overcome those hurdles, and that towards the end of the week we’ll be able to come to an agreement. I believe we can," he said.

"We are going to make Paris the demarcation point where we begin to get the job done to save the planet, period," Kerry added.

Negotiators, according to Kerry, spent the past week trying to address the many deep and complex divisions among countries with competing national interests.

"Should we incorporate the notion that we should be trying to do anything we can below the 2 degrees, including the 1.5, I think there are ways to do that that don’t turn this agreement into a 1.5 agreement, which it will not gain support for. It needs to be an adjunct to the notion that the formal goal of the agreement is 2 degrees, but yes, we all need to take note that it would be better if we can move in the direction of some further reduction," he said.

"And I think that would be a way of trying to get the best of both worlds, because we still have to get consensus from a lot of countries for whom the whole picture is going to be very important," he added.

One of the stumbling blocks is the demand by many poor and vulnerable nations to enshrine in the agreement the target of keeping global warming to 1.5ºC or less – which is a tougher goal compared to the current 2ºC target. – Rhaydz Barcia / Rappler.com