President Barack Obama said until there is a political cost to ignoring climate change, politicians will continue to operate in ways ''that are really unproductive.'' Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION). STORY: As the White House launched its first South by South Lawn event, President Barack Obama spoke about the tremendous challenge of battling climate change, but said much could be accomplished by taking small steps. "We can reduce our energy consumption by 20 percent without changing our standard of living, simple stuff like when you leave a room the light automatically goes off instead of it still being on," he said. "Until on a bipartisan basis politicians feel that their failure to address this will cost them their seats potentially, or will threaten their careers, then they are going to continue to operate in ways that are really unproductive," Obama said. Obama also said that climate issues are a global problem with serious consequences. "There's already some really interesting work, not definitive, but powerful, showing that the droughts that happened in Syria contributed to the unrest and the Syrian civil war." Actor Leonardo DiCaprio opened the talks saying, "If you do not believe in climate change, you do not believe in facts or in science or in empirical truths, and therefore in my humble opinion, should not be allowed to hold public office," Republicans in Congress have thwarted Obama's legislative efforts on climate, and mocked him for his focus on an issue they see as less pressing than the economy and defense.