A global forum hosted by former President Bill Clinton focused on energy and climate change during its second day Thursday. Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama and his Republican rival John McCain, outlined their thoughts on U.S. energy needs and global warming to the bipartisan group before traveling to Washington to meet with President Bush on the U.S. financial crisis. Victoria Cavaliere has more on the conference from VOA's New York Bureau.
Thursday's panel at the annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York City focused on how to accelerate progress in developing clean energy and reducing global greenhouse gas levels, which have been blamed for climate change. The panel stressed the need for energy efficiency and renewable power sources, like wind and solar energy, as well as clean modes of transportion and local leadership.
Senator John McCain was first to address the panel in a speech he amended to focus heavily on the U.S. financial crisis.
He said rising fuel costs and the dangers of global warming are of paramount concern to the American people. He expressed hopes that innovation will allow the United States to end its reliance on oil and natural gas.
"To make the great turn away from carbon-emitting fuels, we will need all the inventive genius of which America is capable. We will need as well an economy strong enough to support our nation's great shift toward clean energy. Global warming presents a test of foresight, of political courage and of the unselfish concern that one generation owes to the next," he said.
Speaking via satellite from Florida, Barack Obama also began his talk by calling for decisive action in Washington to deal with the economic crisis. He said poverty, extremism and disease threaten the global economy and security.
Obama said it is time for Americans to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He called on the United States to cut carbon dioxide and other emissions by 80 percent by mid-century.
"Abroad, the United States must get off the sidelines. We'll reach out to the leaders of the biggest carbon emitting nations and ask them to join a new Global Energy Forum to lay the foundation for the next generation of climate protocols. We'll build an alliance of oil-importing nations and work together to reduce our demand, and break the grip of OPEC [the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries]. And as we develop clean energy, we should share technology and innovations with the nations of the world," he said.
Both presidential candidates agreed that poverty, climate change and disease present huge challenges around the globe.
McCain and Obama also said they believe that a greater international effort is needed to fight disease and provide education and health care among children.