Addressing the climate change issue Monday on ABC News’ Planet Green network, former President Bill Clinton warns that countries like China and India can "burn up the planet without any of our help.”
In an exclusive interview on “Focus Earth with Bob Woodruff,” Clinton notes China surpassed the United States this year as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gas.
“If India and China and the other emerging economies don't join in some sort of limitation, then they can burn up the planet,” he says, noting China and India have declined to join the other G8 nations in agreeing to curb greenhouse emissions.
“They [the Chinese] are coming up with a new coal-fired power plant every 10 days or so. They don't want to make a commitment,” he adds.
“The developing countries believe that western powers will keep them in second-class economic status while they try to manage their own growth,” he adds. “The Indians feel the same way.”
The former president goes on to say, “I think eventually they are all going to join hands in fighting the cause. I think what they're looking for us to do is to prove that there's an economical way to do this.”
Clinton chides President Bush’s current environmental plan and his administration’s refusal to address greenhouse gas emissions before leaving office at the end of his term in January.
He calls the president’s efforts at the recent G8 summit in Japan to cut emissions by 50 percent over 40 years a "net plus," but adds, "I would like to have seen more done.”
Clinton says addressing climate change will be one of the most important issues for whoever wins the White House in November and compliments Republican candidate Sen. John McCain for moving the GOP early on the issue during the presidential campaign.
“I do think it's fair to say that among all the Republicans, Senator McCain has the best position on climate change,” Clinton says. “I agree that Senator [Barack] Obama and the Democrats have a better position," he quickly points out.
Clinton says the next president will have to set a global example on the climate issue or risk the ecological and financial consequences.
"In terms of how real Americans live, over $4 gasoline, exploding utility bills because of the rising price of oil and coal and natural gas, the absence of jobs — which is being made more severe because of the energy prices — that along with health care are the major domestic agendas for the next president, no matter who is elected," he says.
"So we know what to do. If you just change the economic incentives for utilities, we can dramatically increase the number of jobs we create through energy efficiency. We can dramatically increase our production of solar and wind power, and we can rapidly move to cars that use the most efficient biofuels and that are plug-in electric vehicles.”
Clinton closes the ABC News interview by saying, “We need to do this smartly. I think if the American people understood how many good economic opportunities there were here, you wouldn't have nearly as much reluctance to move to a post-carbon economy, which is plainly where we're going."
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