SYDNEY — US President Barack Obama on Thursday said China can't be allowed to wait until its standard of living improves before tackling climate change.
Obama, speaking in an Australian TV interview, said China knew the dangers of global warming but appeared to lack urgency about dealing with the problem.
"Right now their understandable impulse is to say, 'Well let's let the developed countries, the Australias, and the Americas deal with this problem first and we'll get to it when we've caught up a little bit in terms of our standard of living," he told public broadcaster ABC.
"The point we've tried to make is we can't, we can't allow China to wait.
"We have to take responsibility and do what needs to be done, but if emerging countries not just China but also India, Brazil and others are pursuing a path in which they replace us as the largest carbon emitters, that's not a sustainable practical approach.
"So we're going to have to have everybody moving on the same track at the same time."
China has overtaken the United States as the biggest carbon polluter, but some participants accused it of vetoing attempts to forge a stronger agreement at December's UN climate talks in Copenhagen.
Obama added that the United States was not interesting in "constraining" China as it rises to become the world's pre-eminent superpower, but urged Beijing to recognise its growing responsibilities.
"It is in our interests, both of our countries interests for China to be successful, for China to be prosperous, because that means they're more likely to be stable," he said.
"That means they're more likely to be able to deal with issues like the energy efficiency of their industries, and reduce pollution. So we're not interested in constraining China, we want China to do well.
"The only thing we want to make sure of is that a country like China... that they are also taking their international responsibilities seriously and that they recognise that with great power comes great responsibility."
Obama gave the interview after being forced to cancel last month's visit to Australia to push through landmark health reforms.
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