Obama Corrects Himself: Not 'American Ingenuity,' But 'Human Ingenuity'

By Susan Jones | December 1, 2015 | 11:08 AM EST

President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Paris, on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. The leaders discussed the continuing crisis in Syria, and the fight against the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama said his "main focus in Paris is making sure that the United States is a leader" in bringing home a successful climate agreement.

Yet he shied away from using the term "American ingenuity" at his news conference on Tuesday:

"This is happening. We're not turning back.  And the thing about American--ah, human ingenuity--I was going to say American ingenuity, but there are other smart folks around, too -- don't want to be too parochial about this. The thing about human ingenuity is that it responds when it gets a strong signal about what needs to be done.

"You know the old expression, 'necessity is the mother of invention'? Well, this is necessary," Obama said. "And us getting a strong, high-ambition agreement in place, even if it doesn't meet all the goals that we ultimately need to meet, still  sends a signal that it's necessary, and that will spur on the innovation that going to ultimately meet our goals."

Obama described a successful climate agreement as one that sets ambitious targets for a low-carbon economy in this century. That means countries must set specific target-reduction targets that are legally binding and can be verified.

He said success also means "periodic reviews," where countries can update the carbon-reduction pledges that they've made every five years or so.

And success also means a global climate fund to help developing countries meet their carbon-reduction goals faster than they would on their own. (As CNSNews.com reported, Obama has pledged $3 billion taxpayer dollars for the U.N.'s “Green Climate Fund.” Speaking last month in Kuala Lumpur, Obama called it a "smart investment for us to make.")

"If we hit those targets, then we will have been successful," Obama said -- not just because we'll reduce climate change impacts, but also because we will have "built the architecture that's needed. We will have established a global consensus of how we're going to approach the problem," he said.

"And then we can successfully turn up the dials as new sources of energy become available, as the unit costs for something like solar -- or improvements in battery technology make it easier for us to meet even higher targets, and then systematically we can drive down carbon emissions and the pace of climate change over the course of several decades."

Obama said building periodic reviews into the final agreement will send a signal to researchers, scientists, investors, entrepreneurs and venture funds, and "we'll actually start hitting these targets faster than we expected, and we can be even more ambitious."

Obama pointed to the cost of heavily subsidized solar, which "has gone down much faster than any of us would have predicted even five years ago.”

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