Obama asks the questions in interview with British naturalist Attenborough

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 28, 2015 8:58 PM

By Peter Cooney

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama for a change was the one asking the questions in an interview that aired on Sunday 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 Attenborough's television documentaries about the environment, Obama turned the tables on Attenborough in an interview taped on May 8 at the White House, which aired on BBC and other international broadcasters.

Climate change is one of Obama's top priorities for his remaining time in office, but he faces resistance from Republicans in Congress on how to deal with the issue.

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

"If just one country is doing the right thing, but other countries are not, then we're not going to solve the problem. We're going to have to have a global solution to this," he said.

Attenborough agreed that "the solutions are global."

Obama also asked the naturalist if he thought it was possible "to get a handle on these issues."

After Attenborough stressed the value of finding ways to generate and store power from renewable resources, Obama said,

"I think you're right about that. There has got to be an economic component to this."

Attenborough, 89, brother of the late actor and director Richard Attenborough, has been making television documentaries for 60 years. The BBC has called him "the godfather of natural history TV."

It was the latest in a series of unusual media appearances for Obama, who has been willing to tap almost any avenue that reaches as many eyes and ears as possible to get his message out.

It came as his administration is finalizing rules to curb carbon emissions from power plants. Obama has pushed world leaders to agree to new targets at a summit later this year in Paris.

Obama told Attenborough that children were "much more environmentally aware" than adults, and cited his daughters Malia, 16, and Sasha, 13, as examples.

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

(Reporting by Peter Cooney; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Toni Reinhold)