Kerry said Indonesia was "one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth" to the effects of climate change and urged all of the developing economies of Asia to take the threat of global warming seriously and with a greater sense of urgency.
"This city, this country, this region is really on the front lines of climate change," Kerry said in the capital Jakarta. "It is not an exaggeration to say to you that the entire way of life that you live and love is at risk."
Low-lying nations such as Indonesia, which is made up of scores of islands of various size, could lose a significant chunk of their land mass if sea levels rise as some climate scientists fear. Kerry said the stakes justified the need for governments to accept limits on greenhouse gas emissions, which come largely from factories, power plants and other sources.
Developing nations account for about 55 percent of greenhouse emissions worldwide, but man governments have resisted the idea of throttling back their economic growth, the Wall Street Journal said.
But Kerry said time was running out and all nations had to step up to the plate and commit to reducing their emissions. "We do not have time to have a debate about whose responsibility this is."
Kerry arrived in Jakarta after a stop in Beijing on Friday where the two largest world economies struck an agreement to share information on their respective plans to limit greenhouse-gas emissions after 2020, the Journal said.
The newspaper also noted that Kerry have a tough choice of his own to make in the not-to-distant future when the State Department has to make a decision on whether or not to allow the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline out of Canada to be built on U.S. soil. The pipeline would carry crude derived from Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast, but critics say it would result in a spike in the same greenhouse-gas levels the Obama administration would like to contain.
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