Secretary of State John Kerry winged his way Monday from New Zealand to the Middle East on the next leg of what may be his longest trip yet, a journey during which America’s top diplomat will account for roughly 16.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
That’s more or less the amount of CO2 – one of the key “greenhouse gases” blamed for global warming – produced by the average American in a full year, according to World Bank data.
Climate change features prominently on Kerry’s itinerary on his current trip, an eight-day haul from Washington to New Zealand to Antarctica – where he became the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit – and on to two Arab Gulf states and then Morocco before winging to Peru and then back home.
The Antarctica visit, which included a stop at the McMurdo research station on Ross Island, was focused primarily on climate change – Kerry spoke about concerns that should a huge ice sheet break up and melt sea levels could rise by 12 feet.
The trip to Morocco is also climate-focused: Kerry will attend the U.N. climate conference in Marrakesh, where is expected to deliver a speech to an audience deeply concerned about President-elect Donald Trump’s views on climate change and the new Paris climate accord.
An imprecise calculation of the route Kerry is taking on this trip indicates he will travel around 35,300 miles, which would make it the longest of Kerry’s many journeys as secretary of state.
Prior to this one, his longest trip was around 31,900 miles last fall, when he visited East and West Africa, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and then flew east to Bangladesh, India and on to China to join President Obama for a G20 summit.
Using a calculator from CarbonFootprint.com, which bases its data on conversation factors from the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and equivalent agencies in Canada, Australia and Britain, a first-class passenger flying the distance of Kerry’s current trip would be responsible for roughly 16.57 tons of CO2 emissions.
Kerry’s round-trip flight from New Zealand to the Antarctic was aboard a C17 Globemaster military cargo plane, rather than the official Boeing 757 he is using for the remainder of the trip. The two aircraft are roughly the same size and the latter’s engines are based on those used by the 757.
Kerry has now visited more than 90 countries on seven continents. Last December he broke former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s record of 956,733 travel miles during her Jan. 2009-Jan. 2013 tenure.
As of the end of October – the latest figures provided by the State Department – Kerry had traveled 1,327, 715 miles, or almost 53 and a half times around the Earth.