"Seismic changes" in temperatures and sea levels could create waves of refugees forced to abandon traditional homes and fight for food and water, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said as he sought commitment from the international community to address the challenge posed by climate change.
"Climate is not a distant threat for our children and their children to worry about....It is happening now," Kerry said in his address 'At the Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement, and Resilience (GLACIER) Conference' at Anchorage in Alaska.
Kerry said that climate change - reflected by what he called "seismic changes" in temperatures and sea levels - could soon create waves of new refugees forced to abandon traditional homes or to fight for food and water.
"And we as leaders of countries will begin to witness what we call climate refugees moving - you think migration is a challenge to Europe today because of extremism, wait until you see what happens when there's an absence of water, an absence of food, or one tribe fighting against another for mere survival," said the Secretary of State.
The story of Arctic communities is inherently one of resilience, adaptation, and survival from one generation to the next, he said.
"Unless the global community comes together to address this challenge, the dramatic climate impacts that we're seeing in this part of the world will be a harbinger for every part of the world," Kerry said.
The energy market, he said, now is worth USD 6 trillion with 4 to 5 billion users. It will grow to nine billion users as the population of the planet increases in the next 30, 40 years. It is the biggest market ever, and it's waiting to be grabbed, he added.
"We need to move to reducing carbon pollution, including emissions of short-lived climate drivers like soot and methane, and begin to factor carbon dioxide and its cost into the actual accounting of business and of our economies," he said.
"We need to explore the need for greater collaboration to develop affordable and reliable renewable energy options in the Arctic communities," he added.