Barack Obama encourages Australian youths to take climate change seriously


Barack Obama speaks to a student audience at the University of Queensland. Photo: Kimberley McCosker


In a veiled swipe at the Abbott government, US President Barack Obama directly pleaded with Australia’s youth to pressure politicians to tackle climate change.

Speaking at the University of Queensland three days after the US-China emissions deal, President Obama was applauded by an audience of approximately 1,000 people every time he mentioned climate change.

“As we develop, as we focus on our economy, we cannot forget the need to lead on the global fight against climate change,” President Obama said.

“No nation is immune and every nations has a responsibility to do its part.”

The President warned that no region in the globe had more at stake than Asia-Pacific and said climate change meant more bushfires, flooding, extreme storms and rising seas in Australia.

“I know there’s been a healthy debate [about climate change] in this country, right?” he said to a roar of laughter.

“You’ll recall in the beginning I said the United States and Australia have a lot in common, and one of those things… is we produce a lot of carbon.”

President Obama called on the next generation to step in and say “it doesn’t have to be this way.”

“Combating climate change cannot be the work of governments alone… you have to keep raising your voices because you deserve to live your lives in a world that is cleaner, healthier and sustainable,” he said.

He also highlighted the impact of climate change on national icons like the Great Barrier Reef.

“Because I haven’t had time to go to the Great Barrier Reef and I want to come back!” he quipped.

“I want my daughters to be able to come back and I want them to bring their daughters or sons and have that be there in 50 years.”

The President later announced a $US3 billion contribution to the Green Climate Fund to help developing nations to deal with the impact of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He hailed China’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% before 2025 as a milestone.

“[It] sends a powerful message to the world that all countries, whether you are a developed country, a developing country, or somewhere in between, you’ve got to be able to overcome all divides, look squarely at the science, and reach a strong global agreement.”

“If China and the United States can agree on this, we can get this done and this is necessary for our economy.”

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