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'World is Flat' author calls for radical climate action from Obama

by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) Dec 16, 2008
Best-selling author Thomas Friedman on Tuesday praised Barack Obama's new energy team and said the next US president had to insist on a radical environmental agenda to tackle global warming.

Friedman, whose new book "Hot, Flat and Crowded" is a call-to-arms to reduce US dependency on oil and coal, said Obama's nomination of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu as his new energy secretary was a "terrific" move.

He insisted that the challenge facing Obama required a revolutionary attitude to environmental policy, if the new administration wanted to avoid the devastating effects of global warming.

"We can do it if our next president, who I have great hopes for, is ready to be as radical as the moment we are in," Friedman, whose previous bestseller was "The World is Flat", told a lunch hosted by The Asia Society.

"Our next president is going to be called on to be more radical -- I am talking crazy, wild-hair, paint-on-your-face, ring-in-your-nose radical -- in what he does, than any president since FDR," he said, referring to Franklin D Roosevelt, US president during the 1930s depression and the Second World War.

"The real question I have is... will he have the courage of our crisis? I think our crisis is so deep that only truly radical behaviour will be required to get us out of it."

Friedman, a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a New York Times columnist, called on the United States to become a world leader in green technology.

He said that could only be achieved with strong leadership and called on Obama to put a price on carbon and introduce higher taxes on gasoline, moves that could face strong political opposition.

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Protests heat up over Australia's climate plan
Sydney (AFP) Dec 16, 2008
Angry protests erupted in Australia on Tuesday as environmentalists accused the government of "surrendering" by pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions by only five percent by 2020.

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