Secretary of State John Kerry has a clear message for those who don’t believe that climate change is occurring: They are ignoring reality at the risk of their own security.

Rising temperatures, sea levels and droughts are not only affecting the environment and threatening living standards. They are exacerbating social and political conflicts, which extremists eagerly exploit. “Climate change is a threat multiplier,” he said November 10 in Norfolk, Virginia.

The United States is joining other countries in Paris on November 30 for the United Nations conference on climate change, also called the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21). Kerry said an “ambitious, durable and inclusive” international agreement to curb the carbon emissions causing climate change is within reach.

“The kind of agreement that we’re working toward is one that will prove that the world’s leaders finally understand the scope of the challenge that we are up against,” he said.

Kerry said the United States has cut its total carbon emissions more than any other country. It now emits less than it has in two decades and has dramatically increased its use of renewable energy. Since the United States and China jointly announced their commitments to .

| ShareAmerica” href=”” target=”_blank”>cut greenhouse gas emissions, more than 150 other countries, representing 90 percent of the world’s emissions, have announced their own emissions targets, he said.

The United States is working with developing countries to help them move away from cheap, high-carbon energy sources, as well as to become more resilient to the effects of climate change, Kerry said.

“We still have time to transition to a global clean-energy economy and put the world on a much safer, much more sustainable path,” he said.

“We have a moral responsibility to protect the future of our nation and our world. That is our charge. That is our duty,” he said. “We have to get this right.”

The countries meeting for COP21 have set a goal of reaching an agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

A global climate agreement “won’t be the silver bullet that eliminates the threat posed by climate change,” he said. “But the truth is we won’t eliminate it without an agreement in Paris.”

Everyone can help by putting the right pressure on leaders to reach that goal, he said. And there are plenty of other ways for individuals to help too.