Oil Report

Climate talks an economic opportunity-Bill Clinton

NEW YORK, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said on Monday that to reach a new deal to combat climate change, global warming needs to be sold as an economic opportunity not “a dose of castor oil you have to swallow.”

Clinton, who as president supported the U.N. Kyoto Protocol that curbs greenhouse gas emissions until 2012, told Reuters there was a danger that momentum to tackle climate change would be lost if a deal replacing Kyoto is not agreed in Copenhagen.

Negotiations between 190 countries on a new deal to fight climate change beyond 2012 began in Copenhagen on Monday. Clinton’s successor, President George W. Bush, refused to sign the Kyoto accord.

“I am worried about (the talks in) Copenhagen, but we are going to be forced by circumstances to do what we need to do,” said Clinton, who since leaving office in 2001 has fought global warming through his Clinton Climate Initiative.

“We can’t know with any precision when the worst bad things will happen and in that environment when you are insecure about the present it’s easy to kick the can down the road. That’s the real danger,” he said.

Clinton said that out of the 44 rich countries committed to emissions cuts under Kyoto, only four were so far expected to meet their targets by 2012 -- Britain, Sweden, Germany and Denmark.

But he said that until the financial crisis those countries were outperforming other wealthy nations in job and business creation and had not experienced income inequality increases because they chose to pursue a sustainable energy future.

“I just hope that the people in Copenhagen won’t lose sight of the fact that there are economic opportunities out there,” Clinton said. “This is being sold as a dose of castor oil you have to swallow and it’s just not true.” (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)