Obama: Climate change defining threat of century

US president during visit to Alaska warns that climate is changing faster than efforts to curb global warming.

    On a visit to Alaska, Obama used the state's changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change [Andrew Harnik/AP]
    On a visit to Alaska, Obama used the state's changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change [Andrew Harnik/AP]

    US President Barack Obama said climate change will shape this century like no other threat, as he visited Alaska to stress it's a problem of now, not the future.

    Addressing a glacier conference on Tuesday, Obama said the "urgent and growing" threat of climate change "will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other".

    Obama said that world leaders must agree to cut carbon emissions at a UN summit in December because the climate is changing faster than efforts to curb global warming.

    Obama told the meeting of foreign ministers in Alaska that the United States recognised it played a big part in raising the Earth's temperatures and "embraces our responsibility" to help fix the problem.

    "This year, in Paris, must be the year that the world finally reaches an agreement to protect the one planet we've got while we still can," Obama said.

    'Hypocritical talk'

    Al Jazeera's White House correspondent Patty Culhane said it was a dire speech, "much more urgent than in the past".

    "Some environmentalists, though, were calling Obama a hypocrite for allowing oil company Royal Dutch Shell to drill for oil in the Arctic," Culhane said.

    The Arctic is already feeling the effects of climate change, Obama said, noting Alaska had "some of the swiftest shoreline erosion rates in the world", which threaten coastal villages.

    Forest fires are accelerating the thaw in permafrost, which threatens homes and damages roads in the state and also releases carbon stored in the land, which contributes to the problem, he said.

    "The science is stark, it is sharpening, and it proves that this once-distant threat is now very much in the present," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera And Agencies


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