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John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, once said that a private jet is the “only choice for someone like me” while traveling to accept an award for his climate activism.
Kerry took a private jet to Iceland in 2019 to receive the Arctic Circle award for his work on climate change. While his mode of transportation created a buzz in Iceland, Kerry has avoided scrutiny for his choice in the United States until Fox News reported his justifications to Icelandic reporters.
Reporter Jóhann Bjarni Kolbeinsson was one of the first to confront Kerry over his choice of travel, saying, “I understand that you came here with a private jet. Is that an environmental way to travel?”
Kerry said it was his “only choice” and touted his record on climate activism to justify his high-emissions mode of travel.
“If you offset your carbon – it’s the only choice for somebody like me who is traveling the world to win this battle,” Kerry said.
“I negotiated the Paris Accords for the United States,” he added. The Paris Climate Accords is a symbolic multilateral agreement to cut emissions negotiated under former President Barack Obama, abandoned by former President Donald Trump, and will likely be rejoined by the United States under President Joe Biden.
“I’ve been involved with this fight for years. I negotiated with [Chinese] President Xi to bring President Xi to the table so we could get Paris,” Kerry said, referring to the Accords. “And, I believe, the time it takes me to get somewhere, I can’t sail across the ocean. I have to fly, meet with people and get things done.”
He did not give a reason why he chose to fly private rather than commercial. Per passenger, private jets produce an estimated 40 times more carbon than commercial flights.
“But, what I’m doing, almost full time, is working to win the battle on climate change, and in the end, if I offset and contribute my life to do this, I’m not going to be put on the defensive,” Kerry said.
Last week, U.S. climate czar Kerry’s family was revealed to own a private jet despite Kerry’s commitment to combating climate change. Federal Aviation Administration records show a Gulfstream Aerospace jet owned by Kerry’s wife’s private charter jet company. The jet’s registration expires in October 2023.
Also last week, Kerry was slammed for telling fossil fuel workers who may lose their jobs because of the Biden administration’s policies on climate change that they can find alternate work in the clean energy industry.
“You know, you look at the consequences of black lung for a miner, for instance, and measure that against the fastest-growing job in the United States before COVID was solar power technician. The same people can do those jobs, but the choice of doing the solar power one now is a better choice. Similarly, you have the second fastest-growing job pre-COVID was wind turbine technician,” Kerry said. “So what President Biden wants to do is make sure those folks have better choices, that they have alternatives, that they can be the people that go to work to make the solar panels, that we’re making them here at home.”