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House Committee Smokes Climate Envoy John Kerry Over Private-Jet Hypocrisy

By Jake Beardslee · July 14, 2023

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, faced tough questioning in a Congressional hearing over his use of private jets and alleged shadow diplomacy with Iran.  CSPAN

In yesterday’s Congressional hearing, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry was put under the spotlight over his family’s use of private jets and alleged shadow diplomacy with Iran. The hearing, led by Florida Congressman Mike Waltz, put Kerry on the hotseat as the Washington veteran was forced to defend himself as GOP legislators accuesed him of eco-hypocricy for his use of private jets extravagant lifestyle.

Questioned by Waltz over his family’s ownership of a private jet, Kerry replied, “Yes. My wife owned a plane and sold the plane. Not in a number of years, but I have flown on it.” Kerry insisted, however, that he personally never owned a private jet and primarily flies on commercial carriers. He added that he may have flown on a private jet once since assuming his current position, stating, “Possibly once. I don’t, I think. I just don’t. I’m trying to think of the date.”

The climate envoy’s use of private jets has raised eyebrows, given the significant carbon emissions associated with such travel. This controversy comes at a time when the Biden administration is pushing for policies to transition the world to green energy, a cause that Kerry himself champions.

Along with the private jet controversy, Kerry was questioned over his interactions with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif during the previous administration. Leaked audio from April 2021 suggests that Kerry had informed Zarif about Israeli attacks on Iranian assets in Syria, a claim Kerry vehemently denied during the hearing, stating, “We made it crystal clear in a release that we put out that that never took place…I don’t know what he’s confusing or what he did, but I can tell you that I never had that conversation. And I can tell you that in five years running one of the largest prosecutor’s offices in America, in two years as Lieutenant Governor, in 28 years in the Senate, as a member of the Intelligence Committee, as a Secretary of State. Nobody ever questioned it.”

The hearing concluded with Waltz accusing Kerry of conducting shadow diplomacy that could potentially undermine American goals. Kerry denied these allegations, attributing Iran’s progress towards nuclear weapon development to President Trump’s withdrawal from the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement, stating, “Shadow diplomacy also saved us from a war. If you look at 1963 with the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was behind-the-scenes, back-channel conversations.” Waltz responded, “Mr. Secretary, I would posture that your shadow diplomacy now has us on the verge of Iran having a nuclear weapon.”

Light Wave commentary

The House hearing underscores the potentially damaging disconnect between the need for climate action and the elite lifestyles of some, such as John Kerry, who are leading the charge. While Kerry’s claimed commitment to flying commercially is commendable, the controversy surrounding his family’s private jet use underscores the importance of walking the walk (literally) versus talking the talk when it comes to the climate ethics of public officials. As the climate crisis intensifies, it is not sufficient for pubic officials to advocate for change. They must lead by the power of their example.