With the Chesapeake Bay as a backdrop, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on world leaders April 19 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, warning that a lack of action could wreak widespread social and ecological damage in such coastal regions.

Citing sea level rise and sinking land, Blinken said, “If this continues at the current pace, in just 80 years, the Bay will extend inland for miles, overtaking the homes of 3 million people, destroying roads, bridges, farms. Many of the Bay’s plants and animals will die out. So will the fishing industry. To my children’s children, the landscape will be unrecognizable.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Annapolis headquarters April 19, warning that a failure to reduce greenhouse gases could wreak social and ecological damage in coastal regions. Credit: Dave Harp

In a 26-minute speech from the deck of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Philip Merrill Environmental Center in Annapolis, Blinken outlined how diplomats will put climate policy at the fore in their dealings with their foreign peers. And he vowed that the U.S. government wouldn’t let other countries use climate progress as a “trading card” in negotiations to excuse bad behavior.  

His comments offered no specifics on new spending, nor did they prescribe new pollution-reduction targets. But the speech struck a starkly different tone on climate compared with the recently departed Trump administration, whose political leadership tended to downplay the threat.

Blinken’s talk came three days ahead of President Biden’s virtual climate summit with 40 world leaders.

This article originally appeared on BayJournal.com on Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

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