Obama says climate change 'can no longer be denied'

EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, United States (AFP) - US President Barack Obama warned Wednesday that climate change "can no longer be denied," as he travelled to Florida's Everglades in a high-profile push to raise awareness about the dangers facing the environment.

Obama spent Earth Day in the subtropical wilderness to caution that a warming planet is leading to "stronger storms" and "deeper droughts" that risk hurting the economy as much as the ecosystem.

"Climate change can no longer be denied. It can't be edited out. It can't be omitted from the conversation," he said, ahead of a crucial period that is likely to be vital in shaping his environmental legacy.

While saying national parks must be protected for his daughters and future generations, Obama stressed that climate change is also having an economic impact.

Rising sea water in the Everglades pose a risk to Florida's US$82 billion (S$110 billion) tourism industry, he said, adding that for every one dollar taxpayers put into the national parks, US$10 is returned to the economy.

Many Republicans point to the economic cost of tackling climate change as a reason behind their scepticism.

Obama urged his foes to take a bipartisan approach, pointing out that president Theodore Roosevelt nurtured the National Park Service and president Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency. Both were Republicans.

This summer the Environmental Protection Agency will unveil rules limiting emissions for coal-fired power plants that are sure to cause controversy.

In December, global leaders are expected to meet in Paris to thrash out a binding mechanism for reducing emissions.

Obama is keen to play a leading role in forging that agreement.