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Obama vows to lead global warming fight

By AFP (Agence France Press) - January 8, 2007

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama vowed Monday to tell Americans tough truths about global warming, and backed a “cap and trade” system to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Illinois senator also argued the lagging US response to climate change was the product of gridlock in Washington — in a swipe at his top rival Hillary Clinton, whom he portrays as a symptom of a US political malaise.

Obama’s plan would see a 150 billion dollar investment in “climate friendly” energy, a bid to slash energy use in the economy and a target of cutting US reliance on foreign oil by at least 35 percent by 2030.

“Some of these policies are difficult politically, they aren’t easy,” Obama was to say in a speech in New Hampshire, according to excerpts released by his campaign.

“But being president of the United States isn’t about doing what’s easy. It’s about doing what’s hard, it’s about doing what’s right.

“Leadership isn’t about telling people what they want to hear — it’s about telling them what they need to hear.”

Obama’s cap and trade program would cut greenhouse gas emissions to the level recommended by scientists, and he would lead a new drive for a global compact against global warming, his campaign said.

Cap and trade is designed to provide an economic incentive for governments and companies to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Those that want to emit more harmful gases can buy credits from firms below the cap, in a system already used in the European Union.

Obama also warned “there are some in this race who actually make the argument that the more time you spend immersed in the broken politics of Washington, the more likely you are to change it.”

“These same people had the chance to actually make it happen, they didn’t lead,” Obama said, without mentioning Clinton by name.

Clinton last week accused President George W. Bush of waging a “war on science” and pledged to expand government assessments of climate change.

Global warming is poised to play a more prominent role in the 2008 race than any previous US election. All Democratic candidates are on record as backing more action against climate change, though they differ on the details.

Republican counterparts bicker over whether current science supports the theory of global warming, and several are concerned about the economic impact of attempts to cut greenhouse gases.