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Government»Obama says the US Green Agenda is stronger than ever

»Monday, September 28,2009

"The journey is hard. And we don't have much time left to make it," Mr Obama said in brief remarks at a high-level climate summit convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Mr Obama sought to show US resolve ahead of crucial talks in Copenhagen in December, when nations will try to reach a new global treaty to address climate change. He spoke at the start of a busy day of diplomacy at the United Nations that also included a three-way meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an effort to nudge forward the Mideast peace process.

"We understand the gravity of the climate threat. We are determined to act," Mr Obama said. "And we will meet our responsibility to future generations."

He spoke after Mr Ban admonished leaders to put aside differences and move more quickly on global warming.

Mr Obama is under pressure to put political capital behind getting a serious clean-energy law at home and show that the US, an economic giant, will do its part to cut heat-trapping emissions. The US House has passed a bill that would set the first mandatory limits on greenhouse gases, but a Senate version appears increasingly unlikely this year.

In his first presidential visit to the United Nations, Mr Obama also sought to show a clear break from former President George W. Bush without referring to his predecessor by name. Mr Bush's critics accused him of failing to take climate change seriously.

"It is true that for too many years, mankind has been slow to respond to or even recognise the magnitude of the climate threat. It is true of my own country as well," Mr Obama said. "We recognise that."

Environmental experts warn of catastrophic changes, from rising sea levels to more drought, if industrial and developing nations cannot collectively address a warming planet.

Tuesday's UN summit and the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh later this week seek to add pressure on rich nations to commit to a deal in Copenhagen for mandatory greenhouse gas cuts starting in 2013, and to pay for poorer nations to burn less coal and preserve their forests.

But China and some other major fast-developing economies will not agree to binding greenhouse-gas cuts.

The US and China each account for about 20 per cent of all the world's greenhouse gas pollution created when coal, natural gas or oil are burned. The European Union is next, generating 14 per cent, followed by Russia and India, which each account for 5 per cent.
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