Obama on the Record: Turkey Town Hall

When the Kyoto Protocol was put forward, the United States opted out of it, as did China and some other countries — and I think that was a mistake, particularly because the United States and — is the biggest carbon — has been the biggest carbon producer. China is now becoming the biggest carbon producer because its population is so large. And so we need to bring an international agreement together very soon.

It doesn’t make sense for the United States to sign Kyoto because Kyoto is about to end. So instead what my administration is doing is preparing for the next round, which is — there will be discussions in Copenhagen at the end of this year. And what we want to do is to prepare an agenda both in the United States and work internationally so that we can start making progress on these issues.

Now, there are a number of elements. Number one, we have to be more energy efficient. And so all countries around the world should be sharing technology and information about how we can reduce the usage of electricity, and how we can make our transportation more efficient, make our cars get better gas mileage. Reducing the amount of energy we use is absolutely critical.

We should also think about are there ways that if we’re using fossil fuels — oil, coal, other fossil fuels — are there ways of capturing or reducing the carbon emissions that come from them?

So this is going to be a big, big project and a very difficult one and a very costly one. And I don’t want to — I don’t want to lie to you: I think the politics of this in every country is going to be difficult, because if you suddenly say to people, you have to change your factory to make it more energy efficient — well, that costs the factory owner money. If you say to a power plant, you have to produce energy in a different way, and that costs them money, then they want to pass that cost on to consumers, which means everybody’s electricity prices go up — and that is something that is not very popular.

So there are going to be big political struggles in every country to try to ratify an agreement on these issues. And that’s why it’s going to be so important that young people like yourself who will be suffering the consequences if we don’t do something, that you are active politically in making sure that politicians in every country are responsive to these issues and that we educate the public more than we have so far.

But it is excellent question, thank you.

All right, this gentleman right here.

Q Thank you. I’m studying at Bahcesehir University, and my major is energy engineering, so –

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Oh, there you go. You could have given an even better answer.

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