On his first appearance at the 64th United Nations General Assembly, President Obama stressed international cooperation on climate change and called on developing countries to step up and do their part.
"Those rapidly growing developing nations that will produce nearly all the growth in global carbon emissions in the decades ahead must do their part as well. Some of these nations have already made great strides with the development and deployment of clean energy. Still, they will need to commit to strong measures at home and agree to stand behind those commitments just as the developed nations must stand behind their own," the president said at the U.N. Summit on Climate Change.
Touting the reforms his own administration has made to protect the climate, Obama called on developed nations, including the United States and China, to work together and assist others in taking similar steps.
"Difficulty is no excuse for complacency. Unease is no excuse for inaction. And we must not allow the perfect to become the enemy of progress," the president said. "Each of us must do what we can, when we can, to grow our economies without endangering our planet -- and we must all do it together."
"For the international diplomatic audience, it's a major speech. I think for him personally, it will allow him to forget health care for four days," said Thomas Weiss, political science professor at the City University of New York and author of "What's Wrong With the United Nations and How to Fix It."
Later today, Obama will meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao. In addition to conveying an optimistic outlook on the economy -- China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. government debt -- Obama is also likely to bring up China's approach to climate change.
Climate has been a contentious issue for the Chinese government, which has increasingly been pressured by the international community to cut emissions and change its environmental policy.
The president this afternoon held what he called "frank and productive" meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at which he "was pretty tough" on both leaders, conveying "a sense of his impatience and seriousness and his analysis that they need to get going," a senior White House official said.
The White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, said Obama conveyed a sense that a Mideast peace process "can't just be a perpetual kabuki" if he is "going to continue to invest his political capital."
Before the meeting with the two leaders, Obama said, "Despite all the obstacles, despite all the history, despite all the mistrust, we have to find a way forward. We have to summon the will to break the deadlock that has trapped generations of Israelis and Palestinians in an endless cycle of conflict and suffering."