Obama turns interviewer for climate change campaign

WASHINGTON - United States President Barack Obama, for a change, was the one asking the questions in an interview with British naturalist David Attenborough in which they agreed that combating climate change would require a global effort.

Saying he had long been a "huge admirer" of Mr Attenborough's television documentaries about the environment, Mr Obama turned the tables on him in an interview at the White House, which aired on BBC and other international broadcasters on Sunday.

Climate change is one of Mr Obama's top priorities for his remaining time in office, but he faces resistance from Republicans in Congress on how to deal with it. He noted the US agreement with China last year to set new limits on carbon emissions starting in 2025. The two countries are the world's leading carbon emitters.

He told Mr Attenborough, "We're not moving as fast as we need to, and part of what I know from watching your programmes, and all the great work you've done, is that these ecosystems are all interconnected.

Mr Attenborough, 89, has been making TV documentaries for 60 years. After he stressed the value of finding ways to generate and store power from renewable resources, Mr Obama said, "I think you're right about that. There has got to be an economic component to this." The interview was the latest in a series of unusual media appearances for Mr Obama, who has been willing to tap almost any avenue that reaches as many as possible to get his message out.

It came as his administration is finalising rules to curb carbon emissions from power plants and as he pushes world leaders to agree to new targets at a summit later this year in Paris.

He told Mr Attenborough that children were "much more environmentally aware" than adults, citing his daughters Malia, 16, and Sasha, 13.

"They do not dispute, for example, the science around climate change," he said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2015, with the headline 'Obama turns interviewer for climate change campaign'. Print Edition | Subscribe