Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry was blasted on social media over the weekend by critics who accused him of trying to destroy the agriculture industry in order to achieve “net zero” emissions.
“Agriculture contributes about 33% of all the emissions of the world depending a little bit on how you count it but it’s anywhere from 26 to 33 and we can’t get to net zero, we don’t get this job done unless agriculture is front and center as part of the solution,” Kerry told a climate change summit in May.
“You just can’t continue to both warm the planet, while also expecting to feed it,” Kerry added. “It doesn’t work. So we have to reduce emissions from the food system.”
That clip was widely shared over the weekend after being posted by the Twitter account Wide Awake Media, which led to a new wave of criticism against the Biden administration’s top climate envoy. Republican Congresswoman Mary Miller who called them an “attack on American farmers.”
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“Nothing to see here,” Republican Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted. “Just hypocritical Dems wanting to bankrupt every farmer in America….”
“These people are sick bastards,” GOP Rep. Chip Roy tweeted. “I introduced legislation to defund this clown. But that’s just for show unless Republicans as a whole decide to fight instead of laying down while the very freedom they campaign on is under assault.”
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Back in May, two dozen Republicans signed a letter calling on President Biden and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to disavow Kerry’s comments, calling them a “blatant slap in the face to the hardworking individuals that spend their lives sustainably producing our world’s food, fuel, and fiber.”
Overall, the global food system — which includes land-use change, actual agricultural production, packaging and waste management — generates about 18 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of 34% of total worldwide emissions, according to a March 2021 study published in the Nature Food journal.
In the U.S., though, agriculture generates about 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions, federal data showed.
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A State Department spokesman responded to the criticism by saying Kerry is hoping to work with farmers to reduce their climate emissions.
“Secretary Kerry believes that addressing the climate crisis will require collaborating and partnering closely with America’s farmers – who are some of the most productive and efficient in the world and who are already facing the impacts of worsening extreme weather – by investing in technical and financial assistance, deploying innovative technologies, and expanding the reach of other tools that will help boost their resilience to climate impacts while reducing greenhouse gas pollution,” the spokesman said.
“During his remarks at the AIM for Climate summit, Secretary Kerry celebrated the progress made in supercharging global investments in climate-smart agricultural innovation, including unlocking $13 billion in funds to empower farmers and ranchers as they address the rising risks and costs posed by the climate crisis,” he added.
Fox News’ Thomas Catenacci contributed to this report