Secretary Kerry on World Environment Day

Every person on Earth has a role to play in protecting the environment we share—on World Environment Day, June 5, and every day. Every one of us has a responsibility to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy the same safe and healthy planet that we inherited.

This is a pivotal moment when it comes to environmental protection, and how we respond—or don’t—may come to define our generation. Today, our ocean is overfished, polluted, and acidifying by the day. And the science is clear: we must take action on climate change, which poses a threat to the entire planet.

We just lived through the hottest year on record. The Arctic is melting faster than previously predicted. Islands and coastal regions face the threat of catastrophic flooding. Countries around the world suffer from historic droughts. Unless we take immediate global action to lower the harmful emissions that are linked to climate change and transition to clean energy sources that also help to grow our economies, we can expect to see these threats multiply.

The good news is we still have time to slow or even reverse some of the troubling trends we’re seeing. And over the course of this year, we’ll have some important opportunities to do so. In October, Chile will host the second-ever Our Ocean conference in Valparaíso, building on the remarkable progress we made at the first Our Ocean conference in Washington last June. And this December, world leaders will come together in Paris to try and reach an ambitious and comprehensive global climate change agreement.

But this isn’t just about what world leaders can do. We can all commit to making changes, small and large. For example, we can choose energy efficient products. We can recycle more. And we can choose to buy our food from sustainable sources. As nations and as individuals, we need to unite to protect our planet. We know what needs to be done; now we need to take action.