Clinton tells global audience Bush "flat wrong" as climate conference nears end

Former U.S. president &to=' target=_blank>Bill Clinton told a global audience of diplomats and environmentalists Friday that the Bush administration is "flat wrong" in claiming that reducing greenhouse gas emissions to fight global warming would hurt the U.S. economy.

With a "serious disciplined effort" to develop energy-saving technology, Clinton said, "we could meet and surpass the Kyoto targets in a way that would strengthen and not weaken our economies."

Clinton, a champion of the &to=' target=_blank>Kyoto Protocol, the existing emissions-controls agreement opposed by U.S. President George W. Bush's administration, spoke in the final hours of a two-week U.N. climate conference at which Washington has come under heavy criticism for its stand.

Most delegations appeared ready Friday to leave an unwilling United States behind and open a new round of negotiations on future cutbacks in the emissions that are widely blamed for global warming.

"There's no longer any serious doubt that climate change is real, accelerating and caused by human activities," said Clinton, whose address was interrupted repeatedly by enthusiastic applause. "We are uncertain about how deep and the time of arrival of the consequences, but we are quite clear they will not be good."

The former U.S. chief executive spoke between the official morning and afternoon plenary sessions of the conference, representing the William J. Clinton Foundation, which includes a climate-change program in its activities.

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