On a day when a UN panel warned of growing peril from climate change, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards accused the oil and gas industry of deploying hundreds of lobbyists to Washington to resist efforts to free the nation from its dependence on fossil fuels.
The threat from global warming demands urgent action, the former senator said at a forum in which Democratic presidential rivals Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Dennis Kucinich also outlined plans to confront climate change. Edwards said measures are being hindered by a broken political system in Washington that bends to corporate power and feeds off its money.
"I see the oil and gas companies blocking progress by spending millions of dollars and deploying hundreds of lobbyists in Washington to make sure that America stays addicted to foreign oil and fossil fuels," Edwards said.
Meanwhile, foreign companies are seizing opportunities in wind, solar and other alternative energy sources, he said, with 90 percent of solar panels being produced overseas.
"We're also missing an opportunity to lead the world and reclaim the spirit of American ingenuity that has driven great advances and helped us overcome great challenges in the past," Edwards said.
The three candidates were attending a climate change forum sponsored by Grist, an online environmental magazine, and Public Radio International's Living on Earth, a nationally broadcast program on environmental concerns, in partnership with the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund and other environmental groups.
In Valencia, Spain, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that as early as 2020, Africa will suffer water shortages, residents of Asia's megacities will be at great risk of river and coastal flooding, Europeans can expect extensive species loss and North Americans will experience longer and hotter heat waves and greater competition for water because of global warming. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the US and China -- the world's two biggest greenhouse gas emitters -- to do more to fight it.