Kerry’s green side takes center stage

November 13, 2009 at 2:12 PM Leave a comment

John F. Kerry is known for his expertise on matters of war and foreign policy, and for his failed 2004 presidential bid.

But when he arrives in Copenhagen next month for international climate talks, the world will see a less familiar but perhaps more ardent side of the Massachusetts senator: the green Kerry.

After a quarter century in Washington, Kerry is emerging as a critical environmental dealmaker. He is leading the US Senate delegation that will try to broker a worldwide climate change agreement and is chief sponsor of a massive global warming bill in the Senate, a measure that was all but buried until Kerry forged an unlikely partnership with Republican Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina last month.

Now, with virtually no chance of getting climate legislation through Congress before the end of the year, Kerry is still hoping to make enough progress toward a bipartisan deal to demonstrate to China, India, and other major greenhouse gas producers that the United States is serious about lowering emissions that are heating the Earth.

The challenge is enormous. Even if Kerry manages to find some consensus among Senate Democrats and Republicans in Washington before he goes, the task of setting binding emissions targets for industrialized and developing countries is unlikely to be achieved next month in Copenhagen. But the senator remains hopeful.

“What we have to do is listen to people, work with people, and fight very, very hard to get this job done,’’ Kerry said in a recent interview with the Globe. “It is not going to be easy, but every day we are moving the ball forward.’’

Though Kerry doesn’t have a strong track record as a conciliator in Congress, his biography can only help him, say his supporters. A bit of a wonk on climate science, he has been attending United Nations global warming summits since they began in Brazil in 1992. And he’s respected in diplomatic circles, as shown by his involvement in resolving the election crisis in Afghanistan last month.

“There is no one better positioned in the world than Senator Kerry’’ to get an international climate deal, said Robert Stavins, director of Harvard University’s Environmental Economics Program and an authority on international climate policy. “He has had an interest in these issues a long time. He is coauthor of the climate legislation. He is chair of the Foreign Relations Committee.’’

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Entry filed under: Climate Bill, Climate Change, Conservation, Energy, National News. Tags: , , , , .

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