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Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about climate change to the Atlantic Council in Washington, Thursday, March 12, 2015.

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry says elected officials who ban the words "climate change" are unwilling to face the facts, a not-so-subtle dig at Florida Gov. Rick Scott's administration.

Kerry, a longtime climate champion, said the officials are ignoring scientific facts. He spoke on Thursday, days after reports of the ban, but did not refer to Scott specifically.

Kerry told The Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank, that debating whether we can say climate change is wasting time that would be better spent solving the problem.

Scott is a Republican who is skeptical of climate science. He has denied banning the terms "climate change" and "global warming." But former officials interviewed by The Associated Press and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting said they were told not to use them.