US climate czar John Kerry defended his choice of taking a private jet to Iceland to receive an environmental award in 2019, pointing to his importance in the battle against carbon and suggesting that he had no other options.
“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 in an interview with Iceland’s RUV news outlet when he visited Reykjavik to collect his Arctic Circle Prize. Footage of the previously little-known interview was exposed by Fox News on Wednesday.
Kerry, now a cabinet-level official as President Joe Biden’s climate envoy, went on to justify his use of private aircraft, saying he has played an important role in efforts to address climate change, including negotiating on behalf of the US in the Paris accord.
“I’ve been involved with this fight for years,” he said. “I negotiated with President Xi to bring President Xi to the table so we could get Paris. 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.”
Kerry apparently neglected to think about the option of flying commercial, rather than traveling by sailboat. After all, Icelandair was among the sponsors of the October 2019 Arctic Circle conference, where he was the keynote speaker and received his award.
Kerry will need to plant a lot of trees and recycle a lot of refuse to offset his carbon footprint. Flying by private jet emits about 40 times as much carbon dioxide per passenger as a commercial airliner, according to a study by Lund University. The Kerry family’s Gulfstream GIV-SP emitted an estimated 116 metric tons of carbon in the past year, about 25 times the emissions of a typical passenger car.
But Kerry’s argument seemed to be not that he would offset his carbon through his personal behavior; rather, his crucial achievements as a world environmental leader would outweigh his necessarily high emissions. He and his wife, ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz Kerry, own five homes. They reportedly sold their 76-foot yacht in 2017 and owned at least nine cars when Kerry ran for president in 2004.
“Kerry explanation condensed: I’m so important that I have to fly private,” Fox News senior analyst Brit Hume said.
Kerry was unapologetic when concerns were raised about his private jet in Iceland. “What I’m doing, almost full time, is working to win the battle of 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,” he said.
Just last week, Kerry sounded a tone-deaf note when he said the thousands of oil and natural gas workers who lose their jobs because of Biden’s policies can simply “make the solar panels” instead.
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