Blinken said that the U.S. needed to lead the global fight against climate change, warning that if global surface temperatures continued to rise, in 80 years, the Chesapeake would extend further inland, destroying infrastructure and putting local plants and animals at risk, as well as the local fishing industry.
Referring to the “climate crisis,” Blinken noted that President Joe Biden had rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement immediately on taking office. He did not note that U.S. emissions had continued to decline after the U.S. left the agreement under President Donald Trump.
“If America fails to lead the world on the climate crisis, we won’t have much of a world left,” Blinken said, sounding an alarmist tone that scientists have begun to criticize more openly.
Blinken also claimed that “weather events are becoming more extreme,” another claim that scientists have criticized.
Much of Blinken’s speech focused on domestic policy — for example, stressing the need for “good, paying jobs, and the opportunity to join a union” as part of climate change policy.
At one point, Blinken admitted that Biden’s policy would cause job losses for some Americans.
“We will be mindful that for all the opportunities offered by the unavoidable shift to clean energy, not every American worker will win out in the near term. Some livelihoods and communities that relied on old industries will be hit hard.”
But, he promised: “We won’t leave those Americans behind. We’ll provide our fellow Americans with pathways to new, sustainable livelihoods, and support as they navigate this transition.”
Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office, despite an Obama administration assessment that it was not an environmental threat. He also froze oil and gas leasing on federal lands. In doing so, he caused over 1,000 layoffs and prevented the creation of an estimated 70,000 new jobs.
Last week, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland reversed a Trump administration policy that promoted the U.S. fossil fuel industry, and introduced a new policy making climate change the top priority of her department.