President Barack Obama said on Monday (Aug 31) that world leaders must agree to cut carbon emissions at a UN summit in December because the climate is changing faster than efforts to curb global warming.
Obama told a meeting of foreign ministers in Alaska that the United States recognized it played a big part in raising the Earth's temperatures and "embraces our responsibility" to help fix the problem.
"This year, in Paris, must be the year that the world finally reaches an agreement to protect the one planet we've got while we still can," Obama said, according to his prepared remarks.
The Arctic is already feeling the effects of climate change, Obama said, noting Alaska had "some of the swiftest shoreline erosion rates in the world," which threaten coastal villages.
Forest fires are accelerating the thaw in permafrost, which threatens homes and damages roads in the state and also releases carbon stored in the land, which contributes to the problem, he said.
"The science is stark, it is sharpening, and it proves that this once-distant threat is now very much in the present," he said.