Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks about ocean policy and other environmental issues to students at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., June 1, 2016.
Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

Sec. Kerry: Scrapping Paris climate accord would be ‘an act of ignorance’

Secretary of State John Kerry kicked off a jam-packed tour this week to bring attention to environmental policy — part of an effort to help cement President Obama’s legacy on climate change.

“The fact is that the oceans are essential to your life,” Kerry told students Wednesday during a stop at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland. “We’re spending billions of dollars today of taxpayer money, your parents’ money is going to pay for a harder impact of storms that we’re suffering.”

Kerry announced that he will host the “Our Ocean Conference” this fall, an event which will bring together leaders and scientists to address the impact of pollution on oceans. Kerry told the Blair High School students that despite “being in an age where we have terrorism and several wars,” oceans also deserve the utmost focus.

All In with Chris Hayes, 6/1/16, 8:18 PM ET

One-on-one with John Kerry

Chris Hayes sits down for an exclusive interview with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, with topics ranging from Donald Trump’s candidacy to the Paris climate deal.

The Obama administration has zeroed in on climate change as a major policy priority with an international and domestic approach that has netted mixed response from both liberals and conservatives.

Under the agreement, signed by Kerry in April, the United States vowed to cut its emissions in an effort to limit a rise in global temperatures.

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to “cancel” the Paris Climate Accord, which the United States entered into earlier this year, and which the Obama administration considers a critical part of its climate change policy.

“I will be looking at that very, very seriously, and at a minimum I will be renegotiating those agreements, at a minimum. And at a maximum I may do something else,” Trump told Reuters last month.

Kerry, in an interview with MSNBC News on Tuesday, argued that the Paris accord should remain intact. “Ripping up the climate agreement that was reached in Paris would be reckless, counterproductive and self-destructive,” Kerry told MSNBC on Tuesday. “In the end it would be an act of ignorance.”

Kerry also took to a Facebook Live video yesterday with 11-year- old environmental activist Sean Lesniak to discuss ocean conservation and lay out his main concerns.

“We need to stop the overload of trash and fuel and muck and particularly the nitrates that flow into all of our water bodies,” which Kerry said can be improved with better agricultural practices. “And we obviously need to be more cognizant of fishing practices and prevent illegal fishing in order to save all of the oceans and preserve life in a sustainable fishery,” Kerry told Lesniak.

Kerry pressed the fact that climate change would have a negative impact on marine life and the planet’s oxygen levels.

If the environment is not managed properly now, he said, “it could have a profound impact on the overall balance of the ecosystem as a whole.” 

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John Kerry

Sec. Kerry: Scrapping Paris climate accord would be 'an act of ignorance'