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President Barack Obama attacks climate change denying politicians as not being fit to lead -

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ELEANOR HALL: The president of the United States has issued a warning to other world leaders about the need to act urgently to reduce carbon emissions.

Barack Obama says climate change is happening faster than efforts to fix it and that any world leader unwilling to take the problem seriously is "not fit to lead".

The US president says, while there should be debate on the best way to address climate change, the science on global warming is settled and the time to act is now.

Will Ockenden reports.

WILL OCKENDEN: President Barack Obama says the world has reached a fork in the road on climate change.

One route is to continue on, without doing anything.

BARACK OBAMA: There's not going to be a nation on this Earth that's not impacted negatively. People will suffer. Economies will suffer. Entire nations will find themselves under severe, severe problems; more drought, more floods, rising sea levels, greater migration, more refugees, more scarcity, more conflict.

WILL OCKENDEN: The other, a global agreement to cut emissions.

BARACK OBAMA: The other path is to embrace the human ingenuity that can do something about it. The time to heed the critics and the cynics and the deniers is past. The time to plead ignorance is surely past.

Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone; they're on their own shrinking island.

WILL OCKENDEN: President Obama's comments were addressed at the opening of the GLACIER conference in Anchorage, Alaska.

GLACIER stands for Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience.

The comments come ahead of a key meeting, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which is scheduled to be held in Paris in December

His speech is being seen as a way of building international support, so countries can reach an agreement to cap emissions and therefore a maximum global temperature rise of two degrees Celsius.

Barack Obama says 2015 must be the year an agreement is reached, and attacked politicians who deny the science of climate change.

BARACK OBAMA: Any so-called leader who does not take this issue seriously or treats it like a joke is not fit to lead. On this issue of all issues there's such a thing as being too late.

WILL OCKENDEN: As the world's largest economy, and its second biggest emitter, the United States is key to any world agreement and any meaningly action to cut global emissions.

President Barack Obama has recently annoyed his political opponents in Congress by introducing standards to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants.

He admits that the US is a big part of the problem, but says he believes the country can solve it.

BARACK OBAMA: America will reach the emission target that I set six years ago. We're going to reduce our carbon emissions in the range of 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. And that's why last year I set a new target, America's gonna reduce our emissions 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 10 years from now. And, that was part of a historical joint announcement we made last year in Beijing. The United States will double the pace at which we cut our emissions and China committed for the first time to limiting its emissions.

WILL OCKENDEN: President Barack Obama has 16 months left in office, and hopes that any international climate deal reached at the UN Paris summit would help cement his legacy on climate change.

He's also in Alaska to build support among American voters for taking action against global warming, and to draw attention to many of the threats it poses.

His three-day journey to Alaska will include visits to glaciers and coastlines facing erosion from the effects of climate change.

Summing up his speech, president Barack Obama says he has no time for climate deniers, saying the time to debate the science has passed.

BARACK OBAMA: We know that human activity is changing the climate. That is beyond dispute. Everything else is politics if people are denying the facts of climate change. We can have a legitimate debate about how we are going to address this problem; we cannot deny the science.

We also know the devastating consequences if the current trend lines continue, that is not deniable.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the US president Barack Obama speaking in Alaska. Will Ockenden with our report.