U.S. secretary of state John F. Kerry arrived in Antarctica Friday for a two-day visit, becoming the most senior American official ever to visit the vast continent.
Kerry flew to McMurdo Station aboard a C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft. The five hour-long flight ended when the huge airplane landed on an ice patch that serves the U.S. installation there.
The nation’s chief diplomat spoke to American scientists at McMurdo Station and encouraged them to remain hopeful about the U.S. commitment to fight climate change in the aftermath of a divisive election that saw a climate science denier, Donald J. Trump, win enough Electoral College votes to become the country’s president-elect.
“The rest of the world is not going to abide by scofflaws,” Kerry said. “They’re not going to tolerate people walking away from responsibility, because every country has to be part of this. No one country can solve this problem. And every other country that I know of is starting to try to figure out how they’re going to be able to do it.”
Kerry has led an effort to significantly raise the United States’ diplomatic focus on climate change.
In 2016 he played a key role in achieving international agreements to limit emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, a potent greenhouse gas used in refrigerators and air conditioners, and of carbon dioxide by aircraft.
The HFC agreement, reached during meetings held in Kigali, Rwanda in October, will lead to the phase-out of the compound within about two decades.
Kerry also spearheaded the American effort to conclude the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015.