Obama tells Congress US to act on climate

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday told Congress that he will act on his own to tackle climate change unless lawmakers come up with their own market-based plan to reduce carbon emissions.

Obama pledged to support the development of wind and solar power along with cleaner natural gas in the world's largest economy and set a goal of improving efficiency to cut the energy wasted by homes and businesses by half in the next 20 years.

In his annual State of the Union address to Congress, Obama rebutted head-on the many climate skeptics in the rival Republican Party by noting that 12 of the world's hottest years on record took place in the past 15 years.

"We can choose to believe that superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence," Obama said.

"Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science -- and act before it's too late," he said.

Obama pointed out that Republican Senator John McCain, a frequent critic of the administration, in 2003 introduced with then senator Joe Lieberman a proposal to restrict greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change.

"I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago," Obama said.

"But if Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will.

"I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy," Obama said.

Proposals to set up a "cap-and-trade" system that restrict emissions have failed in the Senate. Obama has since focused on executive actions such as tightening standards for power plants, to the anger of many Republicans.