Everywhere I travel as secretary of state – in every meeting, here at home and across the more than 100,000 miles I’ve traveled since I raised my hand and took the oath to serve in this office – I raise the concern of climate change. I do so not because it’s a pet issue or a personal priority, but because it’s critical to the survival of our civilization, and that means it's a critical mission for me as our country’s top diplomat.
Is it also personal to me? Of course it is. The environment has been one of the central causes of my life ever since I entered public life as an activist.
When I was just 26, I attended an Earth Day celebration in Massachusetts in 1970. It was an eye-opening immersion into the power of the grassroots to identify a problem, force it onto the national radar screen, and demand action -- action that would come not from the goodwill and benevolence of Washington, but because citizens demanded it. The explosion of our activism on that very first Earth Day led to the creation of the EPA, the passage of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, and so much more. People demanded action and the politicians followed.
Today, people all over the world are demanding action on climate change, and those of us in positions of authority globally have a responsibility to lead the way toward progress.
So it’s personal, absolutely -- but leading the way is also the right role for the United States.