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Calderon and Zuma urge US to step up on climate change

by Staff Writers
Davos, Switzerland (AFP) Jan 27, 2011
Presidents Felipe Calderon of Mexico and Jacob Zuma of South Africa, hosts of global climate change summits, on Thursday urged the United States to take stronger action on the issue.

In a debate before business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the leaders regretted that their US counterpart Barack Obama had not once mentioned climate change in his State of the Union address this week.

"The world needs action from the United States," said Calderon, who last month hosted a climate change summit in Cancun at which countries agreed to deep cuts in carbon emissions in order to slow climate change.

Zuma, who has been working with Calderon and will host the next UN-backed climate summit in Durban before the end of the year, agreed, saying: "We need action in the context of what the world has agreed to do."

Both men agreed Obama faces domestic political opposition to his taking the lead on the emissions cutting agenda, and said they thought him serious about the issue. But both called for faster action from Washington.

"It's the biggest economy in the world and the first or the second carbon emitter," Calderon said, as the leaders praised China for its recent decision to swing behind the clean energy revolution.

Costa Rica's Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Denmark's Connie Hedegaard, the EU commissioner for climate action supported the two presidents.

Hedegaard said that China, once an unrepentant polluter opposed to global controls, had joined Europe in deciding to invest in clean fuel technology in order to steal a march on America in a lucrative future market.

"The Chinese are doing this because it's good business," she said, adding innovation could boost world recovery. "It's not just something that we claim. We can prove that green and sustainable technology can create jobs."

Obama's administration played an active role brokering the December 11 deal in Cancun, pledging deep cuts in carbon emissions, but in Washington, a bill to impose restrictions on carbon died in the Senate.

Since then, opposition Republicans -- many of whom have publicly cast doubt on the warnings of climate scientists -- have become the majority in the House of Representatives, and the issue has fallen down the Washington agenda.

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