The Corner

Energy & Environment

The Insufferable Hypocrisy of John Kerry

John Kerry delivers remarks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., April 22, 2021. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

In February, Icelandic reporter Jóhann Bjarni Kolbeinsson asked the United States climate czar, John Kerry, if he thought flying in a private jet to Reykjavik in 2019 to pick up the Arctic Circle award for climate leadership was environmentally responsible. Kerry had a dispensation, noting that flying was “the only choice for somebody like me who is traveling the world to win this battle.”

This week, the Daily Mail reported that Kerry had flown in a private jet to Martha’s Vineyard — where he owns an $11 million rambler — for Obama’s 60th birthday bash. A State Department spokesperson denied the story, claiming that “Secretary Kerry lives on Martha’s Vineyard, he did not travel there for a party. He took a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, he did not fly commercial or private.” This statement means nothing. No one is accusing Kerry of flying his plane onto a runway at Obama’s compound. Whatever the case, Kerry’s carbon-spewing private jet is busy. He and his family often fly to Sun Valley (where the family has a house), D.C. (ditto), Los Angeles, and sometimes just between Martha’s Vineyard and Boston (another house) — because the Earth isn’t worth the two-and-a-half-hour drive. You can rent a similar plane for around $15,500 per hour.

I’m not much of a classist, but I get why this kind of sanctimony and hypocrisy fuels populist anger. Hundreds of well-heeled, maskless elites get to dance at Barack Obama’s birthday party while schlubs like you are still yelling into your useless masks just to be heard over the din at a supermarket — even though you’re vaccinated.

Marrying into money has its perks, and Kerry is well within his rights to enjoy the remarkable conveniences the modern world affords him. The problem is — as with Obama’s party — that the same people demand you surrender comforts and freedoms for the communal good.

I’m often told this brand of gotcha is irrelevant: Kerry’s flights are trifling in the big picture. Even if Kerry is a hypocrite, it doesn’t change the fact that climate change threatens our lives. Just today, the U.N. released a report starkly warning that climate change is now “code red for humanity,” and it is our last chance to implement policies and wide-ranging reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions. (This is the first last chance to save the planet since 2019’s last chance to save the planet.) And Kerry doesn’t seem very nervous about any of it. If the climate technocrats truly believed that climate change was menacing humanity’s existence, they wouldn’t act the way they do, just as if elites truly believed the Delta variant scaremongering they engage in, they wouldn’t be participating in parties with hundreds of their closest friends.

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