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Obama goes to climate summit to show US can back its pledges

Obama

Washington: President Barack Obama said today that American leadership was helping make gains in the global fight against climate change, as he tried to reassure world leaders assembling for a historic conference in Paris that the US can deliver on its commitments.

Obama was joining more than 150 leaders in Paris for the opening days of a two-week UN conference where countries are trying to negotiate an agreement aimed at avoiding a disastrous increase in global temperatures.

“What makes this gathering different is that more than 180 nations have already submitted plans to reduce the harmful emissions that help cause climate change, and America’s leadership is helping to drive this progress,” Obama said in a Facebook posting hours before his scheduled late-night arrival in the French capital.

“Our businesses and workers have shown that it’s possible to make progress toward a low-carbon future while creating new jobs and growing the economy,” he wrote. “Our economic output is at all-time highs, but our greenhouse gas emissions are down toward 20-year lows.”

The goal in Paris, he said, was a long-term framework for more reductions, with each nation setting targets that other countries can verify. Leaders also will try to support “the most vulnerable countries” in expanding clean energy and “adapting to the effects of climate changes that we can no longer avoid.”

He said he was “optimistic about what we can achieve because I’ve already seen America take incredible strides these past seven years.”

At the summit’s opening tomorrow, Obama was to join French President Francois Hollande and philanthropist Bill Gates for an announcement of an initiative to spend billions of dollars over the next five years on developing clean energy technology, a French official and a former US official told The Associated Press.

They were not authorized to publicly discuss details before the announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity. The US, France, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada and Norway have decided to participate, according to the French official.

Eager to leave a legacy of environmental protection, Obama has scheduled meetings with the leaders of China and India to underscore how developing nations are embracing the effort to combat climate change.