US President Barack Obama praised Australia for its bold climate change policies, but noted that the rest of the world needs to make a concerted effort to reduce carbon emissions if we are to effectively tackle global warming.
Obama made his statement at a press conference alongside Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Gillard had recently been engulfed in a vicious public debate over a new carbon pricing program – a program which was successfully voted into law on November 8th. The debate had become so heated that climate change scientists were receiving death threats for the scientific views.
Obama’s support for Gillard and her carbon pricing program therefore serves as a timely endorsement for strong climate policies, given the upcoming climate talks in Durban.
In the press conference, Obama called on other countries to commit to strong emission reduction policies. However, he noted that “It’s going to be a tough slog, particularly at a time when a lot of economies are still struggling, but I think it’s actually one that over the long term can be beneficial.”
Although Obama admitted that the US was unable to implement a cap-and-trade program of its own, he stressed that his government’s efforts to double the fuel efficiency of cars and support clean energy research will make a difference in reducing the country’s large carbon footprint.
Meanwhile, China, which is often viewed with concern for its rising emission levels, continues to implement bold climate policies of its own. It has recognized that achieving per-capita emissions as high as the US would be “disastrous” for the world, and has therefore embarked on an ambitious clean energy program.
Image CC licensed by U.S. Embassy, Jakarta: President Barack Obama practices passing a football with Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia in the Oval Office, March 7, 2011.