Obama Calls America to Lead World on Climate Change

Friday President Barack Obama said he saw consensus building in the U.S. Congress on climate change and energy legislation. Both issues are critical to international talks on a new global warming pact.

Obama, who supports a bill to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, promoted the legislation during a visit to Massachusetts, saying it would transform the U.S. energy system and spur the United States to lead the world on developing technology for "clean" types of fuel.

"Everybody in America should have a stake in legislation that can transform our energy system into one that's far more efficient, far cleaner, and provide energy independence for America," he told an audience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, urging bipartisan support for a new law.

Obama has said he wants the United States to lead the world on climate change, but his focus on healthcare reform has dominated his and lawmakers' legislative focus for several months. A bill is unlikely to reach his desk by the time U.N. talks on an new global warming agreement begin in December, Reuters reports.

The Los Angeles Times quoted President Obama as saying in Massachusetts, "The nation that wins this competition is going to be the nation that leads the world. And I want America to be that nation -- it's that simple."

Obama praised "a legacy of innovation" that "taps into something that is essential about America."

"Even in the darkest of times that this nation has seen, it has always sought a brighter horizon," the president said at the MIT in Cambridge, Mass. "We have always been about innovation. We have always been about discovery. That is part of our DNA, " The Los Angeles Times reports.

It was also reported, Obama called that the "pessimistic notion that our politics are too broken and our people too unwilling to make hard choices."

The event underscored the sharp divisions that have come to define the climate debate even among Democrats, who have watched as other domestic priorities have overshadowed energy this year. Although some members of the environmental community lauded Obama's speech -- Joshua Freed, who directs the Clean Energy Initiative at Third Way, said the president managed to "reject the can't-do pessimism of opponents of energy reform" -- others questioned why the administration hasn't done more to push climate at home and abroad.

Damon Moglen, global warming campaign director for the advocacy group Greenpeace, criticized Obama for not articulating "ambitious vision and commitments for Copenhagen which are in scale with the global need to address climate change" and taking charge of legislation on Capitol Hill.

"It is clear that Congress will not pass legislation this year that goes far enough and fast enough in addressing the demands of climate change," Moglen said. "The president must get out of the back seat and take the wheel of America's climate policy," The Washington Post reports.

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