Obama vows to take lead on climate change | Connect Asia

Obama vows to take lead on climate change

Obama vows to take lead on climate change

Updated 18 January 2012, 20:45 AEDT

The US President Barack Obama is vowing to lead the world in the fight against climate change.

A new envoy on climate change has been appointed to lead US negotiations on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama is also abandoning the Bush Administration's global warming policies pushing for more fuel efficient cars and vowing to reduce US dependence on foreign energy.

Presenter: Kim Landers

Barack Obama, US President; Todd Stern, new US Climate Envoy

KIM LANDERS: The United States is currently the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.

And now President Barack Obama is making it clear he's dumping the Bush administration's policy of blocking any targets for reducing those emissions.

BARACK OBAMA: We will make it clear to the world that America is ready to lead. To protect our climate and our collective security, we must call together a truly global coalition. I've made it clear that we will act but so too must the world.

KIM LANDERS: Even though the new President is asking for action from giant developing economies, his administration has also appointed a special envoy for climate change. Someone who'll lead negotiations for the US as world leaders try this year to craft a replacement for the Kyoto protocol, a protocol that the Bush administration refused to ratify.

The new US climate envoy Todd Stern is a veteran of the Kyoto talks.

TODD STERN: Eighty per cent of greenhouse gas emissions are produced outside the United States and a rapidly growing percentage is produced in emerging market countries. We will need to engage in vigorous, creative diplomacy to dramatically reduce emissions.

KIM LANDERS: President Obama also says he'll try to reverse America's dependence on foreign oil, calling it one of the most serious threats the US faces.

BARACK OBAMA: America will not be held hostage to dwindling resources, hostile regimes and a warming planet. We will not be put off from action because action is hard.

KIM LANDERS: Barack Obama has also signed an executive order to prod the struggling US car industry to develop more fuel efficient cars - setting a goal of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, a 40 per cent increase.

BARACK OBAMA: Our goal is not to burden an already struggling industry, but is it help America's auto-makers prepare for the future. This commitment must stem beyond the short term assistance for businesses and workers, we must help them thrive by building the cars of tomorrow and galvanising a dynamic and viable industry for decades to come.

KIM LANDERS: Republicans call that decision poorly timed and ill conceived, especially with some carmakers shedding jobs and others on the verge of collapse.

President Obama has also directed the Environmental Protection Agency to re-examine whether California and 13 others states should be allowed to set car emission standards that are tougher than those set by the Federal Government.

The EPA has previously blocked California and the other states from setting and enforcing their own rules.

After years of battling the White House, environmentalists are today praising the new President.

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