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Obama Made 'Big Mistake' on Climate Bill, Turner Says (Update1)
2010-12-05 19:56:58.158 GMT
(Updates with comments starting in the fourth paragraph.)
By Kim Chipman
Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. President Barack Obama made a
"big mistake" in pushing health-care legislation before
climate change, billionaire Ted Turner said today.
"We would have an energy climate change bill in the United
States if President Obama had made that his top priority and
brought that to the American people and Congress first rather
than the health-care bill," Turner, founder of Time Warner
Inc.'s CNN, said today at a conference in Cancun, Mexico. "But
he didn't, and I think it was a big mistake."
Obama, who campaigned on a promise to fight climate change,
made the economy, health care, energy and education his top
priorities after taking office. Health-care legislation was
signed into law earlier this year after contentious debate while
a "cap-and-trade" bill to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions
stalled in the Senate. Obama now says he doubts such a measure
can win passage until 2013 at the earliest.
"The climate bill is much more important than health care
because the climate situation is about life and death whereas
the health-care bill was much more limited," Turner, 72, said.
A bill creating a cap-and-trade program to reduce emissions
and establish a market in pollution allowances passed the House
of Representatives last year. The Senate dropped the measure
earlier this year amid claims that an emissions-trading system
would boost energy prices and hurt the economy.
U.S. skepticism about whether humans are causing climate
change has increased, polls show. Congressional elections in
November will bring into office in January almost four dozen new
lawmakers who question global warming, according to
ThinkProgress, an arm of the Center for American Progress Action
Fund, a Washington research group allied with Democrats.
Turner, who also spoke in Cancun yesterday, said more needs
to be done to raise public awareness of the threat.
"We have to convince the majority of people in the world
that we are right and get them motivated," he said. "That's a
big job, but hopefully we can do it."
Turned noted humans only began burning the fossil fuels
linked to climate change about 200 years ago. "Now we are being
asked to completely change our energy system in a quick period
of time," he said. "It's hard for us. It's something we really
have to do if we want to survive."
Turner spoke this weekend at the World Climate Summit, a
conference focused on how businesses can help combat climate
change. The gathering is timed to coincide with United Nations-
led climate change treaty talks in Cancun.
Negotiators from about 190 countries are debating the 1997
Kyoto Protocol and terms for a new accord that includes all
major polluters. The U.S., the second-biggest greenhouse-gas
emitter after China, is the only industrialized nation not bound
by the Kyoto treaty.
Japan, Russia and Canada have refused to sign up for a
second round of emissions reductions once the current ones
written into Kyoto expire in 2012.
Emerging economies, such as China, India and Brazil, are
pushing for the developed countries to agree on a new commitment
period. Discord over Kyoto threatens to take attention away from
talks for a new global climate agreement that includes the U.S.,
UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said yesterday.
The Obama administration is limited in what it can commit
to in the talks because the U.S. doesn't have a national law
capping emissions by a certain percentage. Obama's lead climate
negotiator, Todd Stern, says the U.S. will stick to its pledge
of cutting greenhouse gases about 17 percent by 2020.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to start
regulating carbon from power plants and oil refiners starting in
For Related News and Information:
Top Stories: TOP <GO>
Stories on the climate talks: NSE CLIMATE CANCUN <GO>
Emissions trading: EMIT <GO>
--Editors: Theo Mullen, Walid El-Gabry
To contact the reporter on this story:
Kim Chipman in Washington at +1-202-624-1927 or
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at +44-20-7330-7862 or